Friday, 24 June 2011

Day 70: Bewley's Pure Rooibos

I think I was at a Bewley's hotel in Dublin about six or seven months back and took this one with me to go.  (I love taking tea packets from hotel rooms...or hotel breakfast only rule is that I can't take so many as to be greedy, and there's a fine line. How many do you take from your hotel room? One or two?  Some people drink a lot of tea, and that's what it's there for.  I generally take the ones that I like, and leave a few for the room.  If I got bad service, though, I take them all.  That's right!)

Okay, tangent over.  So this is a 'pure rooibos', which can go either way.  Some rooibos teas are lovely, and some are pretty dark.  I really like this one - Bewley's chose well here! There's that slight bush-flavour, as though the tea leaves just came out of the dirt...but good clean dirt. It's hard to describe. It's not too heavy, if you don't oversteep, and has that slight caramel or toffee taste, a sweet tea without any sugar in it.  Lovely to drink at night before going to bed, too, because it's caffeine free and won't keep me awake for hours.

Walk/run length: 40 minutes

Day 69: Twinings Blackcurrant, Ginseng and Vanilla

You can tell I'm hitting the bottom of the barrel here.  I'm not a huge fan of ginseng - it's a really powerful flavour like cardamom or ginger.  But, this is a tea I haven't had on this blog yet, so here we go!

In this instance, the ginseng (as with the other intense ones noted above) just takes over everything. The blackcurrant is a pretty serious fruit, and is no mean competitor, but ginseng insists on having the last word.  Vanilla is a bit of an afterthought, like something they had to scrounge around for at the end, when they realised that things weren't going as smoothly with this tea as originally planned.  And the only vanilla I actually taste is probably something that's in my head because it's listed on the packet - they could have left it out and I wouldn't even know!

My walk today (Wednesday) was an excellent one - I went out in the morning, as planned, and came back rejuvenated and enthused, as planned.  Check!

Walk length: 35 minutes

Day 68: Whittard's Peppermint

I'm a bit worn out on blogging the last few days.  I've been walking (and even running some) faithfully every day, but I have to confess it's been a struggle to find a new tea, taste it, photograph it, and blog about it every day.  So, I'm catching up on a series of days. 

Today's was Whittard's Peppermint. The thing I like peppermint tea for is when I have a cold. When it's chilly and raining outside, and I'm snug in my bed with the duvet wrapped around me and warm socks on and a cup of minty tea for my throat, which is aching.  This wasn't the case today, which is good in many ways, but it does make it kind of odd to just randomly have a cup of peppermint tea.

Peppermint also made me think of those American sticks of candy, the striped ones? My sisters and I went to a place in Arizona called the Blazin' M Ranch, and they had a little sweet-shop that sold those striped sticks, and I bought several of them.  I think I was supposed to give them as gifts, but somehow they just ended up in my house, so every once in a while I pull one out and enjoy it.

I think I'll do that tonight!

Walk length: 35 minutes

Day 67: Whittard's Spiced Fruits

I mentioned earlier that I am beginning to run out of teas in my house.  I do have a whole sampler of Whittard's teas that was given to me as a gift, so I've got a few days out of those still!

I was making a card for a friend who is in hospital, and decided I'd share some of the joy of tea whilst doing it.  I've seen these cards before, with the little slot in them for a tea packet, so I decided to make my own, and was quite pleased at the results!  I spent a lovely hour with pens and paper and colours and craftiness and then slotted in a tea packet and away went the card!

My absolute favourite of this sampler is the Spiced Fruits. It tastes just as it ought to...fruity, but not overwhelmingly so or with a thick aftertaste, as many combination-fruit teas have; and with just a little tang, as though someone added chili powder and lemon, or some sort of odd addition like that. It's very different, but it works!

My walk today was to the train, from the train, to someone's house to look at a camera, back to the train, back home!  I was pretty exhausted actually! Those hills in Edinburgh get fairly steep, especially when carrying around my camera and lenses on my back.  I was glad to get home and chillax for a bit before going out to see a film in the evening.

Walk length: 1 hour

Day 66: Rest

No blogging, walking, or choosing of teas today.  I am enjoying some reruns of those I love though!

Day 65: Green Chai Tea

This was another one from my friends at Tea's Me Cafe, and another one that I bought because it sounded amazing, not because I loved the smell or taste of it.  I am learning my lesson to smell the loose leaf tea, and if possible try some before buying 75g of it!  I like it all right, but chai is very, very powerful, and this one is no exception.  Even smelling it kind of blows you away! 

When you smell it, it does kind of remind you of a green Christmas.  Cinnamon, cardamom, green leaves,'s a sharp and tangy taste, powerful, with hardly any of the 'green' taste at all.  As a chai it's very light - without the milkiness of a usual chai, it's not heavy, and I think it could be a good one if combined with some other teas or flavours. 

Or perhaps I should try it as a proper chai!

Walk length: 20 minutes

Day 64: Fog Tea

This is a tea that I got at Souvia in the States, and I did something different and bought it solely on the basis of its name.  I live in Britain, so I figured a green tea that included the word 'fog' would not only be applicable, but a perfect match for a wet or drizzly or gloomy or foggy evening.

Unfortunately, this is the first green tea I really just don't like.  No matter how I steep it, it tastes like green tea that has sat around too long. I'm not sure what taste I was expecting from the word 'fog'...maybe a green tea that was fairly soft, not too bitter, with not much of a taste at all, I suppose.  I looked up the description on Souvia's site, and it said that it's a combination of green teas that are grown "high in the Wu Lu mountains where there is always clouds or fog".  And so the plant produces more chlorophyll...and there we have it.  Unfortunately there I have it, an entire package of this loose leaf tea, but I've had the brilliant idea of mixing my own loose leaf teas with all the ones I have, so I may do that soon!

Walk today was hard, but good...and right at the end I was running past a guy who was watching me come, and I thought 'ah, maybe here is some encouragement'. I was very near the end of my walk and usually I just walk the end, but I thought I'd push on and even run most of the end.  I was pretty proud of myself for being able to do that, since I'd run a good portion of the rest as well.  Unfortunately, all I got as he neared was, "You can go faster than that!"  Of course, as we all know, the initial response is nothing, or something useless, and then when you get home you come up with all these brilliant returns that would make him feel like a fool.  I don't know why I didn't think of, "So can you!", but I was pretty worn out, and that was a pretty discouraging thing to say.

On the other hand, it certainly stuck with me, and there have been days after this one that I thought about it and realised that although it wasn't true then, when he said it, there are times when it is true. I'll just take it for when I need it, and ignore it the others!

Walk/run length: 40 minutes

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Day 63: Red Berry (Suki Tea)

Tonight I went into Glasgow to meet up with a friend who was in town, and had a few minutes to spare beforehand, so of course I went in search of a good cup of tea. Sadly, my favourite tea shop which I had only visited once (Brewhaha) is now closed, so I was pretty disappointed about that.  This recession is driving me crazy. You find an amazing place, you visit it once or a few times, you rave about it, you blog about it, you tell your friends...and six months later it's like it never existed.  Come on, businesses! Pull yourselves together!

In place of it, though, was The Streat, which amazingly enough we happen to have one of in Airdrie. I remember having gone into our one several months back and ordering tea, to be told that they had loose leaf teas and being able to choose one.  This was well before I got into my tea blogging, but even then I realised the amazing difference in a loose leaf tea.  So, I walked into the Streat cafe at Buchanan Galleries and looked at their teas listed, but couldn't tell whether I was going to be presented with Twinings teabags, or a loose leaf infusion, so I asked. The kind lady behind the counter explained that they used to have loose leaf, but now they have these infusion bags, the ones that are like thin muslin with the loose leaf tea in them. I've had them before and they're lovely.  The teas they had didn't overly impress me (although the Earl Grey Blue sounded lovely, earl grey with blue cornflowers), but I went for a decaf one, Red Berry.

It was okay.  There is an odd taste that some fruity herbal teas have, like a rubbing at the back of your throat, and I'm not a big fan.  I was hoping that the little infusion teabag would make a difference, but either I didn't steep it properly or it just wasn't the flavour I like ("red berry" did sound a bit vague - I'm starting to prefer specifics, like what kind of berries? and what else is in there?).  Of course, being British, when she asked me how I enjoyed my tea I said oh, it was lovely.  Classic.  What else do you do?  And it was was lovely sitting there on a comfortable couch watching the world pass by.  It was lovely that the lady actually spoke to me, and chatted away, and let me take photos of the tea bags (looking at me very oddly!), and cared enough to see if I was enjoying it.  So yes, I enjoyed my tea, although I probably wouldn't go for that one again. Maybe the Earl Grey next time!

After my tea I waited a little while outside for my friend, and sat outside on the steps near the Glasgow Concert Hall.  The sun was setting, so I sat with its rays warm on my face listening to a man play the guitar, in that early-evening-glow of happiness and rest and quietness and peace.  Even the people walking by and the apparent drug dealers to my right and fake-homeless-guy to my left were quiet.  (I say fake because he put his hand gently on my arm and said, "God bless you, God bless you", which especially in Britain just sounds like one of those phrases people say so that you will think well of them.)  The guitar man played La Bamba and then he played Simon and Garfunkel's 'El Condor Pasa' and I sat transported back to my childhood when we listened to the latter while we folded laundry in the house.  (Not so much La Bamba, but to guitar-guy's credit, he managed to make that relaxing and peaceful, too!)

After my little time of rest we went for dinner at a completely random Italian restaurant, whose name I don't even recall, and then we went to the Glasgow Film Theatre, which I'd never been to.  It shows independent films, which usually means subtitles and sometimes very odd plots and characterisation. They even handed out a wee paper that explained the film, but Joel and I looked it over and he said he got the jist and I said I didn't understand a word of it, and we settled back to enjoy the film. It was really, really excellent. I forgot how long it had been since I watched a film in which I had no idea who was going to live or die, and how it would end.  The one sentence in the review they handed out that I did understand, and appreciate, was, "Savour the vicarious thrill of Point Blank while you can before some movie producer casts Daniel Craig or Matt Damon in the inevitable remake."  Now, I'm a pretty big fan of both those gentlemen, and don't really mind seeing anything with them in it.  But I forgot that when you're watching a Daniel Craig film, you know that he's going to win. You know that he will very nearly get killed several times, but he won't die.  You're pretty confident that his lady will live too (although to be fair that can be up for debate, and has been, in both Daniel and Matt's films), and that all will be more or less well in the end.  Because, of course, they have to live to play in another film.  But here, in the Glasgow Film Theatre with French subtitles and real-looking people and the hero running until he can't breathe anymore, you really aren't sure. I gasped a lot. I found myself sitting with my hands over my mouth in terror while he went in search of some very evil men.  Because in an independent film, anything can happen.

I'd highly recommend it.  Well worth a go!

Walk/run length: 40 minutes

Day 62: Kombucha Decaf (Green Tea)

I didn't think it was possible, but I really am starting to run out of teas in my tea cupboard.  Today I looked through the whole thing to find one that I hadn't tried, and I think there were maybe one or two (and it's late, so I don't want something with caffeine). Come on, I've got less than 30 days to go!

I guess that means I need to start stocking up again.  The hard thing about tea is that it doesn't really come in the one-size servings. You generally buy a box of tea with about 20 or even 40 teabags in it, or loose leaf tea that lasts for months, and that's it for the one kind of tea!

But my friend Sylvia came to the rescue with this one.  She gave me a random teabag a few weeks ago when I was in the States, and said that it would serve me well if I ever hit a day where I didn't have a new tea to try. She was certainly right, and today I scrounged around and found the Kombucha Decaf green tea, and poured it out.

It's a lovely tea for the end of the day.  As soon as I poured the hot water over the teabag I could smell the mint (spearmint, according to the packet).  I'm starting to enjoy trying to figure out what's in a tea before I find out.  Normally I'm not a huge spearmint fan, but mingled with green tea it's incredible. I love it. I think this might be my new favourite bedtime tea.  Celestial Seasonings has one called 'Sleepytime' which I love simply for the name (the taste isn't bad either, and it has a little mintyness to it), but this one has a flavour all of its own. I even smelled something slightly fruity, and lo and behold the packet informs me that there is 'natural plum flavour', as well as passion fruit.  There's lemongrass, too, which I didn't pick up, but it merges very well with the light fruit flavours and the green.  (Green tea with lemon is one of my favourites too, so that makes sense.) 

Kombucha is the key ingredient, which I'd never heard of, but I've looked it up and it's apparently made from fermenting tea! Mmmm.  The packet proclaims that it 'supports immune and digestive function' (which is, to me, a very odd statement to make on a tea packet), but Wikipedia insists that the proof of medicinal purposes is few and far between.  Well, never mind. I've found a beautiful tea that's decaffeinated, and my only problem is that it's sold in the States!

Walk/run length: 40 minutes

Day 61: Celestial Seasonings Green Tea Decaf (with White Tea)

This is a tea I picked up in the States.  I have perfected the art of the self-decaffeinated green tea, but it doesn't always work. Sometimes I leave the teabag in too long, despite my best efforts, and lie awake at night.  Other times I don't leave it in long enough, and it's like drinking lightly coloured hot water.  I thought this might be the answer.

I do like this tea, as an alternative and something to drink late at night.  It's no loose-leaf, certainly, but it has a decent green flavour without being too overwhelming, although I can't really have more than one cup at a time.  There's no lovely mango or peach or cranberry flavouring to help it along, so it's a bit plain.  The white tea (which, according to the box, has been added for a 'smoother taste') definitely does help things along.  I do like the combination, and am now thinking about how I could do a little combo of my own with my loose-leaf teas!

Another successful walk/run this morning - nothing exceptional to say here except that I am definitely back in the pattern, and enjoying it.  And the weather right now is so perfect I couldn't be happier.  Sunshine, but not too warm; a breeze, but not a wind; a few clouds, but nothing cold.  I think what's amazing in the UK is that there is such a tendency to give up hope.  "Lovely day," I'll say to someone, and inevitably the response will be, "Yes, it's nice finally" or "It's only meant to last till tomorrow" or something like that.  I say, enjoy it while you have it!  I even went to the lengths of insisting on being cheerful while waiting in the queue at the post office today, and I think I might be in danger of losing my British citizenship over it.

Walk on!

Day 60: Green Tea With Mango (Loose Leaf)

Today I finally got back into my good pattern of getting up to a cup of green tea, doing my morning pages, going for a walk, and then starting my day.  It's amazing how long it took me to get back into it, but as I was going (and being tempted to berate myself and beat myself up for how I'd fallen off the regular-pattern-wagon), I realised that that's just a part of exercise. And discipline. And life. If you have a period of time where you've done really, really well - getting up early every day, eating healthy, walking or running, being disciplined with emails, achieving all kinds of things - there is always, always going to be a period where you just can't do it anymore.

And instead of attacking myself for what I haven't done, I'm seriously considering just letting that be part of the process.  Obviously lying around watching films all day is not something you want to just let happen whenever, but sometimes you get sick. Or are jet lagged. Or have put out 110% for the last six months and just can't do it anymore.  And falling back is part of the process.  It means you've been doing everything right.  It means you need a rest (and perhaps have been pushing too hard).  And it means you're human.

At the end of the day, I'm always going to get back on the wagon and go forward. I'm never going to just lie around being useless, because I hate that.  And this week I've already started to see increased enthusiasm and energy - and it could just be that all this renewal came from me being down for a little while.  Regardless, I'm back in the pattern.  And all is good.

Today's tea was Green Tea with Mango - but the loose leaf version that I got from Tea's Me Cafe.  Gosh, this tea is good. If I had to pick one tea as a favourite from the entire 60 days so far, it really might be this one.  (Okay, the Angels' Kiss is a very close second.)  It's light, refreshing, fruity but not overwhelmingly so, has just the right amount of green tea for flavour but not for bitterness, has a pale yellow colour and fresh fruity flavour that means I can drink cup after cup without any bad effects other than an inability to fall asleep at night! :)

I've also discovered that I can use my cafetiere (which I use for ground coffee) with my loose leaf tea as an infuser alternative.  I'm pretty impressed with myself.  I don't have a tea infuser or infused teapot or any of those fun things (hint, hint, anyone who's thinking of sending a gift for any reason), and I have tried a variety of options before I hit on this cafetiere idea. I tried putting the tea leaves in a teapot, and then straining them out as I poured.  It worked okay, but made a big mess.  I have a tea-spoon with holes that works well for a cup of tea, but not so much for a whole pot.  So here then is my answer.  I'm still learning how much tea to use (I always put in too much), and the lesson is: use very little!

Walk/run length: 40 minutes

Day 59: Rest

Today, I rested.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Day 58: Gojiberry Green Tea

Today was another one of my loose-leaf extravaganzas! To be honest, I have no idea what gojiberries are, and bought the tea simply because at the shop (Teas Me!)they opened up a box of it and it was so pretty, with blue flower petals and red dried berries and green tea leaves, and it smelled heavenly.  I've had it a few times now, and it's one of the strangest green teas that I have.  First, it actually smells better than it tastes.  I like the taste pretty well, but the smell is so exotic and powerful, whereas once it's steeped it's still a very light green tea.  Secondly, it tastes better with the first cup than with the second or third - whereas some green teas are much more powerful the second or third steeping.

I wasn't even sure if a gojiberry was a real berry, but it appears to be.  This tea has blueberry and pomegranate flavours, with blue cornflowers for colour and even some lemongrass in the tea!  Makes for an intense taste that you can have over and over again from just a few teaspoons of dried tea.  It makes me wish I could drink green tea late at night, but even though green tea is lighter in caffeine, it's still there - and my little trick of decaffeinating the teabag doesn't work so well with loose leaf tea!

My walk today was to visit one of the older housebound ladies, and then to the grocery store and home.  I must still be getting over my exhaustion because that about did me in!

Time for another cup of tea and then bed!

Walk length: 15 minutes

Friday, 10 June 2011

Catching Up

I took almost a week off from my blog up until today. Put simply, I was exhausted. A lot of traveling and a good bit of work and photography and visiting and family and walking and running and shopping and hundreds of other things meant that I was just worn out from all the little daily things that I'd been doing so well.

So, I just stopped everything for a little while. It's good to do that. Whilst in one way it's great to be such an achiever, and successful, and firing ahead at all pistons every day, it always catches up to you.  And when it does, just lie down and rest until you're ready to get back up again.  It's a good thing. 

Day 57: Organic White Tea (Pai Mu Tan)

Today was a pre-wedding shoot with Robert and Lorna in Belfast.  It's only a few days since I arrived back in Scotland from the States, but as I said to a friend later that day, flying from Edinburgh to Belfast is like taking public transport.  I had no luggage with me, so it was a matter of dandering through the airport, editing a few photos on my laptop while I waited for the flight to board, and then a 20 minute flight and I was there.

We had an amazing day, and a very full one. We started off with breakfast at a little place called The Yellow Door (interestingly enough on our way there I spotted the Green Door and the Amber Window and several other similar restaurants - a popular notion!), and of course I asked for tea.  They brought out an entire box of teas for me to choose from, and I hesitated for quite some time before finally deciding on an organic white.

I don't think I've had a 'plain' white tea yet, and this one was described as a white peony tea, which sounded perfect to me.  And it was.  I really, really love white teas.  And on a day when I'm doing a pre-wedding shoot, and looking at wedding venues and sprinkling rose petals and taking photos of beautiful engagement rings, a white tea is just right.  I think if I got married I would love to have an entire tea bar of white teas - there are so many and they have such incredibly beautiful names!  And anything white goes well with a wedding :)

So we went to the venue where Robert and Lorna are getting married (the Dunadry - a gorgeous place!), where they spent ages going over the tiniest of details with their wedding coordinator.  Meanwhile I wandered the grounds and found beauty everywhere.  And then it was on to Dunluce Castle, and White Rocks beach for some fun shots, and after a quick dinner I was off on the flight again (through a completely empty security - nine security guards and one little me!) and home before 10!  An amazing day, and a lovely tea to start it off with.

Walk length: All over! Hard to say.

Day 56: Pear Helene Green Tea (loose leaf)

Well, I need to admit it.  I'm a loose-leaf-tea snob now.  Having spent a few weeks in the States trying loads of different tea cafes, loose leaf teas, teabag-teas, and just about everything there is, and then coming home with more packets of loose leaf teas than I should probably admit to, I'm really finding it difficult to simply toss a teabag into a cup of hot water and drink it.  The intense flavours, the sweetness, the fresh flavour of loose leaf tea of any kind has spoiled me rotten for any other kind of tea - at least for a little while.

Today's tea was my 'bonus' tea that I got because I bought so many at Souvia (the day I tried the Angels' Kiss green tea with Betty).  It's called Pear Helene, and has little pieces of dried candied pear pieces in with the green tea leaves.  It also includes marigold flowers, the packet says, and originated in Germany. There's an interesting aspect I haven't looked into yet - the origination of all the different teas. I never really had a burning desire to go to China, but I definitely do now. I'd love to go somewhere to see the tea plants and the drying leaves and the whole process from beginning to end!  This Pear Helene tea is another perfect example of an excellent fruity green tea - light, so light that there seems to be very little flavour, but like walking through flowers and yet not overwhelmed.

I have to confess I can't even remember what my walk was like this day.  I'm writing this blog post many days after the fact, so my best guess is that I walked down to my local grocery store and stocked up on supplies!

Walk length: 15 minutes

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Day 55: Good Earth Sweet & Spicy

I’m home in Scotland today.  It is so good to be home.  I love traveling and visiting my family and seeing new places and doing weddings, but there is nothing like walking in my front door to my warm and cosy flat (okay, cold and chilly, but it WILL be warm soon), all tidy and clean like I rarely get to see it! J

I had no idea what my tea of the day would be.  I thought of getting one at the airport, but other than Starbucks (which really doesn’t do tea), there weren’t many options.  And I do like to enjoy a cup of tea, and my traveling today, whilst not stressful, wasn’t relaxed and easy-going, either.  I actually finally got called over the announcements for the first time!! “Miss Karen Reyburn, please come urgently to gate A3, where your flight to Edinburgh is closing.”  The hilarious part was, there were 15.25 and 15.50 flights to Edinburgh boarding right next to each other, and I had it in my head that I was boarding at 15.50, so I was sitting comfortably at gate A2, checking to make sure it wasn’t boarding yet, and typing up blog posts while I waited.  It’s amazing how there can be so many announcements which just pour over your mind like water, and then suddenly your own name is spoken and alertness comes roaring back! Fortunately I didn’t have far to go, so I picked up my bags and took a few steps to the right and all the gate attendants were laughing at me.  (No, with me!)  At any rate, it was quite comfortable really – I wasn’t stressed at all, and I didn’t have to queue up, and I didn’t miss my flight! Perfect!

So, when I got home, amongst the pile of junk mail, magazines, bank statements, pleading letters from Scottish Hydro, gas bills, and other incredibly boring mail, I had this amazing letter from my friend Emily, complete with my cup of tea for the day – and it’s even caffeine free, so I don’t have to fear that I won’t sleep tonight! (I had a grand total of 1 hour of sleep during my 15 hour journey overnight, so I think I’ll sleep well.) 

I’ve never had Good Earth Sweet & Spicy before.  I’ve had Good Earth and I like it, but this is on a whole different playing field. It’s an incredible tea.  For a teabag (ie non-loose-leaf), it packs a serious punch, with more flavours than you could imagine pressing into one little package.  Right off I noticed the sweetness – it was like someone had put in a huge spoonful of honey or brown sugar. I was shocked to discover that it’s all natural sweetness.  On my own I could taste cinnamon and orange and rooibos, but other than that I had to go to the packet to see what else was amazing me in this tea.  It has (according to the back of the packet): Red Rooibos, Chicory Root, Rosehips, Cinnamon, Lemongrass, Peppermint, Papaya, Chamomile, Panax Ginseng, Anise Seed, Dandelion Root, Ginger Root, Orange Oil, Orange Peel.  Wow.  Almost every single flavour is intense in and of itself – ginger, cinnamon, lemongrass, ginseng – you don’t mess with those guys.  They’re the mobsters of the tea world, but really nice once you get to know them.  That is, as long as you’re on their side, and you hang out with them in the right company.  Mix in the wrong fellows and you will wish you never took a sip.  It’s not personal, it’s tea.

I’m off to bed now.  It’s raining outside, and my walk for the day has consisted of a fairly long stretch through Heathrow’s Terminal 5, as well as Phoenix Sky Harbour’s Terminal 4.  I think I’m good for the day.

Day 54: Desert Blossom Iced Tea (Jobot)

Today was my last day in sunny Phoenix, and as my flight didn’t leave until 8pm, I seized the opportunity to spend a little QT with my sister Laura.  I had a LivingSocialvoucher for a coffee place called Jobot, down near 5th Street and Roosevelt, and we thought we’d give that a bash.  I really love LivingSocial.  Other than the failed Arizona International Festival, which was an ultimate disappointment, all my other LivingSocial purchases have enriched my life experiences.  

Jobot is in a strange part of central Phoenix.  It’s an area where two blocks north you’re doing some nice shopping and buying a Starbucks; two blocks west you’re potentially buying a house; two blocks south and you’re cheering on the Diamondbacks; and two blocks east you feel like you’re going to get shot at.  But right where Jobot is makes you feel like an artist.  There are little houses that have been renovated and spruced up (but not too much – they still maintain their roughed-up, grunge feel), some as artist blocks, others as galleries, and Jobot as a coffee place.  It’s a classic grunge café, complete with peeling paint in various colours, old furniture, a random bathtub in the toilet, various memorabilia you’ve never heard of before (for instance, instead of a little wooden milk truck it’s a wooden beer truck), outside tables with misters to keep out the heat, and very down-to-earth staff who are friendly but you also get the feeling that they’re writing a novel or dreaming up three different business ventures while they’re making your tea. 

In terms of a tea experience, the taste was excellent but the knowledge was a little lacking.  I chose the Desert Blossom tea as it sounded like a nice white, perhaps with peach or pear or even prickly pear flavour to it.  But when my tea was delivered to me, I asked, “Is this a white tea?” hoping for some more details, and the server just looked at me as though trying to decide if I was asking a daft question or if he ought to know this, and said, “No, it’s a dark tea”.  I stared at the very pale iced tea and then back at him and decided to just leave it.  I guess I’ll never know what’s in it.  He was funny though – he had a little trouble making my sister’s Sweet Peach tea, getting remnants of tea leaves floating merrily about at first, and had to try three times to get it right.  It’s the kind of place where you don’t really mind when that happens, especially when he said very matter-of-factly, “This is becoming the most difficult task I’ve done all day, making this one cup of tea!” 

We ordered savoury crepes which were excellent – mine was root beer pulled pork with jalapenos, and Laura’s was a Monte Cristo.  We enjoyed both, and our teas, immensely, and I’d highly recommend the place.  Just go with a relaxed mindset and you’ll be all set.

My walk was short today – I got a late start and on the last day of May in Phoenix, you don’t want to walk too far at 11am.  It did start to cloud up a little, so we did about 20 minutes round the block, but even that seemed to wipe me out.  I think I’ll be glad to be back in Scotland where I can go for a walk any time day or night, and my only query is how heavy of a jacket to put on! 

Walk length:  20 minutes

Day 53: Laura’s Homeblend Herbal Iced Tea

Today was Memorial Day in the States, and our family got together for a dedication barbeque for my dad’s new property in Sedona, Arizona.  This place is absolutely amazing – I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating, that this is a sprawling ranch-like property complete with caboose, gazebo, tree house, workshop, garage, and creekside access, all in addition to the house itself.  The place just exudes peace and rest, and my sister and I drove up the night before to experience some of that rest, and I almost found myself rushing about to grasp every opportunity for rest – down at the creek, on the swing, watching the stars, and sitting in the very comfortable reclining chairs inside.

My sister Laura made some homemade iced tea for our family get together , and I have no idea what kind of tea it is specifically, and I didn't even take a picture of it, but I  kind of like the fact that it’s just original Arizona blend, in keeping with our family barbeque.  This was some barbeque.  There were at least 75 or 80 people there, and yet with such a sprawling place you hardly even noticed.  Car parking spaces seem to materialise out of thin air, and hide the cars away so that their technological look doesn’t spoil the woodsy feel of the place.  There were children playing in the caboose and treehouse, men fishing down at the creek, a rousing game of Connect 4 over here, and lazy discussion over there.   It was just the right kind of day – blue skies, red rocks, incredible steaks, good company, time with family, and the reminder over all that all of these blessings come from God.

The verse my dad quoted which is the only response to all these benefits and graces and gifts and joys is: “Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that You have brought us thus far?” (2 Samuel 7.18)

No real walk today. I tramped over the rocks to the creek and back, but I needed a few days off, and this was one of them.  

Day 52: Absolut Wild Tea

Tonight Pin and I went to Dad’s new place in Sedona for some R&R, and I brought out one of the most amazing teas I’ve had in this whole challenge: a white-tea-and-elderflower-flavoured-vodka. Wow. It was like drinking white tea on fire.

It was incredible, after having tried so many different teas, and beginning to really tell a white tea from a green tea from any other kind of tea, that I could really taste the white tea flavour in there.

The elderflower gave it a softening aspect, but after I sat and savoured a few sips, I decided to add a little cranberry juice. It changed the entire flavour of the ‘tea’, but definitely made it go down a little more smoothly. I liked it both ways.

It really was a rest day today, so that’s all I have to say about that!