Leaving the 50's Palate Behind

I am always concerned that I am not appreciating all the flavorful essences my tea has to offer so I set out on several months of reading "how to" to develop or fine tune a palate (the sense of taste). This read-a-thon lead me to discover the worlds of Julia Child, M. F. K. Fisher, David Olney, James Beard, Ruth Reichl, David Leibovitz, Molly Wizenberg and their gastronomical worlds as foodies/chefs/cooks. Each one opened a new foodie interest for me -- sooooo much goes into developing a recipe, who knew! The similarities in developing a specific tea with perfecting a recipe are amazingly similiar beginning with the  processes of a series of repeats with slight changes until the desired taste is achieved.

A variety of food, wine, and tea for today's developing "foodie."  

A variety of food, wine, and tea for today's developing "foodie."  

Along with a renewed interest in food, tea, and wine I found several passages that certainly joined my "favorite" quotes.

  • "If she was going to gain weight, she decided, she’d rather do it with some good pâtés." From . . . Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child" by Bob Spitz
  • "Child had always known that what she did was teach people to be fearless, unintimidated, to try and if necessary to try again, to cook, to taste, to enjoy, to have fun—"
  • "She (Julia Childs) and Beard and all the other pioneers of cooking in postwar America had fended off 1950s “home ec” attitudes about convenience and speed— the idea that cooking should be fast, simple, processed, frozen, and prepackaged. But while maintaining her commitment to excellence, she had taken a key lesson from the “home ec” approach; she understood the importance of accessibility." From . . . Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child" by Bob Spitz

Having done a large part of my palate's basic development during the 50's the above excerpt and the following made absolute sense. I am wondering if the food of the 50's was so bland that, perhaps, some of the reason my palate does not distinguish fine taste is that those taste buds were never fully developed. I am thinking the way to correct this situation is to indulge in and learn to appreciate fine wine, food, and most definitely specialty Tea. (My justification for more fine wine, food, and tea!) Of course, for development of a fine palate must be repeated, and repeated, and repeated. 

  • ". . .the 1950s were a time of awful food in general in America. There was the convenience-driven rise of canned and processed foods to accompany increasing prosperity and suburban living—the “Station Wagon Way of Life,” as House Beautiful referred to it. Quick and easy cooking was celebrated. There were time-saving gadgets, premade salad dressings, instant and powdered soups, and Swanson TV dinners. . . "Provence, 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American Taste" by Luke Barr.

Okay, there is only thing to do . . . Move behind my 50's palate. Here's to sharing more book/tea/food/wine adventures with you.  

The Tea and Hat Lady  

New Beginings -- Happy Tea 2017

It is that time again, a chance to officially have a new start, remake ourselves or lifestyles, gain new good habits while eliminating or, at least, decreasing old ones. Here's to all of you that are able to stay with your intentions better than I am. My intentions are always good, even though perhaps striving to do change too much.  

Well this year, after many years of experience, I am going to be realistic with my intentions . . . Eat healthier, drink good tea and wine, and most importantly appreciate what life brings my way. . . Keeping front and foremost in my mind that it is never too late to do whatever the heart desires. Of course, at this stage I am thinking ENJOYMENT . . . GOING TO DO WHAT MAKES ME HAPPY!!!! 

To start the new year I have selected a gifted Pu'erh tea that is absolutely robust with earthly flavors and aromas steeped to perfection in my new teapot. Make your 2017 initial tea selection one of wellness while delivering a deliciousness that stays with you throughout the day.  

 

Loose-leaf Pu'erh steeped to provide a bold, robust earthly flavor. . . With happy thoughts of "Downton Abbey"  

Loose-leaf Pu'erh steeped to provide a bold, robust earthly flavor. . . With happy thoughts of "Downton Abbey"  

Tea, Tea, and more Tea everywhere. Tea and good books . . . What more could one want?

Tea, Tea, and more Tea everywhere. Tea and good books . . . What more could one want?

Looking forward to sharing tea, books, and life throughout 2017. 

The Tea and Hat Lady  

The Word for Summer 2016 -- Marathon

Reflecting on Summer 2016 and how tea and books were a necessary prescription to survive the media marathon provided the public. 

Read More

Simplicity -- A Lost Art?

Every new technology represents a trade-off: something is gained, but something is also lost. -- "Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat" by Bee Wilson (www.ConsidertheFork.com)

While researching tea, foodie trends, and lifestyles for my blog, I came across this quote regarding the basic wooden spoon. ("Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat" by Bee Wilson).

"The wooden spoon does not look particularly sophisticated—traditionally, it was given as a booby prize to the loser of a competition—but it has science on its side. Wood is nonabrasive and therefore gentle on pans—you can scrape away without fear of scarring the metal surface. It is nonreactive: you need not worry that it will leave a metallic taste or that its surface will degrade on contact with acidic citrus or tomatoes. It is also a poor conductor of heat, which is why you can stir hot soup with a wooden spoon without burning your hand. Above and beyond its functionality, however, we cook with wooden spoons because we always have."

After reading the above quote I began to think about how the enjoyment and preparation of tea has changed over the years. Interestingly, we return to three basic ingredients for our tea preparation and enjoyment -- water, tea leaves, and a cup.

Oh, how we have progressed from the simplicity of a leaf falling from a tree into a pot of boiling water to the high-tech water-heating devices available in today's tea markets. Tea has certainly moved into the world of technology. Take the BREVILLE® ONE-TOUCH TEA MAKER, it heats water to the correct temperature for your tea, lowers the tea basket automatically into the water, and, at the correct time, auto-lifts the basket to prevent over steeping. It will keep your tea warm for up to 60 minutes. Tea made simply. (http://www.teavana.com/us/en/teaware/tea-makers/breville-one-touch-tea-maker) I don't know about you but that certainly does not sound like "Tea made simply" to me. I have also found, through my own experiences, that the more technology involved the more likely it is that something will go wrong. . . Just saying. 

The Beauty and Peace of a Cup of Tea

The Beauty and Peace of a Cup of Tea

Somewhere in between the simplest form of tea preparation to the most high-tech tea preparation devices , we have the beautiful Japanese Tea Ceremony. This tea preparation ceremony joins the peacefulness of spirituality with the palatability of Japanese green tea in the surroundings of a setting arranged to enhance the experience. The History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage, p. 136, offers a splendid description of this particular form of tea preparation.

The Beauty and Simplicity of a Cuo of Matcha

The Beauty and Simplicity of a Cuo of Matcha

Just as the wooden spoon continues to be the most frequently used kitchen utensil let us continue to keep our tea time simple while concentrating on using the best water at the correct temperature, quality loose-leaf tea, and a peaceful, fun setting. The simplicity of a cup of tea shared with friends and family can certainly add joy and peace to one's existence in today's stressfull environment.

Remember, keep it simple. 

The Tea And Hat Lady  

Building a Tea Library

What could possibly be the best accompaniment with a cup of tea than a good book. Of course along with that cup of tea one should be wearing comfy sweats and be consumed in silence -- I am talking "home alone silence." So it only seems natural that a tea person should have a thorough tea library; in fact, every tea person I know has an extensive tea library some of the material in hardcopy, some ebooks, and some as audio books. You name the device and I bet I could find a tea publication that utilizes that media.

In many eyes this would be a very small tea library but in my eyes this demonstrates my tea passion through books, accessories, and tradition of family..  

In many eyes this would be a very small tea library but in my eyes this demonstrates my tea passion through books, accessories, and tradition of family..  

With all the Tea publications available, how does one choose which books to add to their personal library?  After all, there are books that address tea history as well as tea agriculture, processing, preparation, selection, culinary uses and let us not forget the occasional fictional character that enjoys a cuppa tea. As a student of the leaf, my approach was to first explore the authors available. My original selections were of authors I knew and respected for their knowledgeable and experience within the tea industry and authors known as the long-term (take  notice I did not say "old") sages of the industry. Therefore, my first selection of books were written by Norwood Pratt, John Harney, Michael Harney, Jane Pettigrew, and Bruce Richardson. I have had the opportunity to meet all these fantastic people through the Specialty Tea Institute and attendances at World Tea Expos. Later as I got to know more people in the industry, I added Lisa Bolt Richardson, Linda Gaylard, Earlene Grey, Kevin Gascoyne, and others to my preferred authors list.

Books, Books, and yet there are still tea books I have yet to discover.  

Books, Books, and yet there are still tea books I have yet to discover.  

Next I will select a book that addresses a specific topic about tea.  Reviewing my tea book selections, I find that I have books that address countries of origin, the terroirs of tea gardens, and detailed tea historical times. My most recent tea book purchases have been books on how to incorporate tea into culinary/beverage recipes. Tea can be used to create an marinade for meats, infusion for rice and vegetables, a rub for meats and fish, or as seasoning similar to using herbs just to mention a few of the culinary uses being written about by tea culinary enthusiasts. I would be amiss if I did not mention the trending use of tea as an ingredient to cocktails and, of course, there are books available on "how to" construct these cocktails. There is no limitation to the versatility of tea . . . Just let your imagination go!

Let us not forget the occasional fictional character that enjoys a splendid cuppa tea. My fictional tea library consists mostly of mysteries where the main character owns a tea room or shop, is a detective who enjoys tea, or where the magical calmness of tea enhances the hero or heroine's effectiveness to solve the pending mystery. Yes, I have definitely been known to buy and read a book just because the cover pictured a beautiful tea setting and even better yet if the tea setting included a woman, enjoying tea, wearing a chapeaux. 

Yes, my tea book library does include the latest trend . . . Tea coloring books. There are outstanding tea coloring books available that allows and encourages creativity. Enjoy!

Yes, my tea book library does include the latest trend . . . Tea coloring books. There are outstanding tea coloring books available that allows and encourages creativity. Enjoy!

Utilizing multi-media search engines one can usually find a book on any tea topic, for any tea use, or by any author. Oh my, I almost forgot to mention the books that are available to record the teas tasted, tea rooms visited, and tea experiences shared. I must admit that I spend more time reading about the fictional character who enjoys a cuppa tea than I do about the countries of origin or terroirs but I am able to state that I do learn something from each book I read. 

Here's to your next cuppa tea and learning experience through books,  

The Tea And Hat Lady