The Adventure Begins

The Adventure Beings
A few years ago, I gave up on one futile dream (finding true love, giving my daughter siblings to play with and all those shenanigans) - and replaced it with the more humble and doable one:
Making a pot of tea together wherever we go.
In my fantasy, we'll be going to some remote places, with these simple pieces of equipment, an open mind and a willingness to step out of our comfort zone - and brew tea for others and perhaps also be invited to their brew.
I hope we make many new friends in the process, even for just the duration of the tea party.
And if not - at least we had a heck of a good cup of tea, outdoors.

I had the teapot for a long time now. It belongs to a lost love that by now I've given up 99% of hope to ever seeing again. I think after more than a year passed since two lovers have seen of each other is time to move on. At some point, the heart does not grow fonder from absence, but simply gets used to it and tries to forget the pain of being ripped apart by life's cruel injustices. The heart needs to give itself wings to fly and grow - and get itself smashed into the rocks again by another chapter of cruelty.

But I digress.... I had a kettle that can serve as a teapot -  stainless steel and lightweight as it should be. And also with sentimental value, which is always great for an object you plan to encircle the globe with. But I had no way to heat it up. I'm just take on the characteristics of a clueless chick when it comes to anything hardware or that remotely resembles camping-gear. For that reason alone, perhaps it is good that I met someone new to break my heart. We had a few outdoors tea parties together and I realized those portable little gas burners needn't be heavy nor complicated to operate, so I quickly acquired one for myself while my heart was still bleeding. Because of course I wanted nothing more in the world than to brew a pot of tea outdoors like he did for me. Apparently I'm the kind of masochist that likes to remind herself for as long as possible of the person that she should really forget about immediately.

Did I digress again? Sorry. It's all part of making the point that my repeatedly broken heart brings me eventually to the conclusion that really all I can do about it is make tea. I am a fully capable adult, I've accomplished plenty of things in my life, mostly all by myself,  including raising a child, which is probably the most challenging thing do to solo - and I'm pretty proud of it. The thing with relationships, is that you can't do them all by yourself. There is always another person involved, and that usually wrecks everything. I mean - the success of such operation is only 50% dependent on what I do or say, and 50% is entirely up to another person. Which so far hasn't really proven to be all that great... Maybe it's even worse than that: it's only third my responsibility, third the other person's, and another big third is left to chance/luck/serendipity/divine providence - call it whatever you like, it's something we have zero control over.

So here I am, finally hanging the towel and admitting I just can't do this. Especially not the heartbroken phase. It's just too painful, thankyouverymuch. Instead, I'm going to travel the world with my little girl (who is quite grown up now and loves to travel way more than I do), and on the way we're going to stop in places and make tea. Whomever is going to join us or interact with us is welcome to do so. And I hope we'll also be invited to a bunch of tea parties along the way. Our first destination is the area of Mt. Hermon where we set off for a little weekend adventure. And what we brewed and drank there I will tell you in the next few posts...

Victoria Tea Festival

Flowering Teas, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

I just got back from Victoria Tea Festival last night - apparently, it's the largest tea festival in North America, and is a relatively new endeavor (this is the 3rd year). The event was held at the Crystal Garden (713 Douglas Street, just behind The Empress Hotel), an internesting building that used to be an indoors swimming pool. The exhibitors were quite varied, ranging from well established local tea companies, tea rooms, bakeries, tea accessories and china, and even a tea-leaf reader.

High Tea Display, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia, is a pretty and small town on Vancouver Island with interesting heritage and strong British influence. Which makes tea there even more popular than in Vancouver - and English tea in particular. Afternoon tea are offered in several prestigious locations, the most known are perhaps White Heather, Butchart Gardens and The Empress Hotel. I have experienced the latter a couple of times (this weekend being the second) - a classy yet laid back settings (if you are comfortable with being served) and the tiered treats are to die for all-time classics (see image with recipe for their scone, printed on a tea towel below).

Scones Recipe, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

I was hoping to find interesting china or tea sets, but this was not a strong point at the exhibit. I did, however, find a couple of interesting vendors. One being a Japanese family-owned business that imports laqcuer ware and tea containers made of cherry wood. I was particularly smitten by this display of leather clutches, with elaborate designs that are white and raised obove the leather surface. The little red purse in the middle holds the stamps of the business owner's family name. There is a little locket-medallion attached that holds a tiny circular red inkpad. Apparently, this is a common accessory in each family in Japan that gets passed down the generations. What a nifty way to carry the family's signature!

Japanese Leather Accessories, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Teapot from Artfarm, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.
Similarly elaborate, was this surprising vendors from Duncan on Vancouver Island. Artfarm make their own tea pots and carry an interesting selection of teas, including a tea I've never heard of before - Hojicha (roasted Japanese green tea, with a comforting, nutty-cereal aroma), jasmine pearls, pine smoked black tea (Lapsang Suchong), and organic White Peony, which I am sipping as I write this.

Lapsang Suchong, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

White Peony, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Which brings me to the point of my mission: I wanted to find really good and interesting white tea in this event. And while I'm not quite sure yet that I've found my favourite white tea yet - I sure did find a few interesting ones, from Silk Road. They can be viewed side by side on the image below, and as you may notice, one of them (the Snow Dragon) is actually individually spiraled silver needles. I was not impressed with it too much, but I might have brewed it with water that were not hot enough. I am yet to try the One Hundred Monkeys.

Two White Teas, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

I may have not accomplished the white tea mission, but I sure did find one tea that I am very smitten with and am sure to be drinking a lot of: Oolong perfumed with magnolia flowers. This is an authentic perfumed tea, in which the tea leaves are layered with flowers. Tea readily absorbs the aroma of the flowers, and so this process is much like enfleurage with tea (instead of fat; and withouth the alcohol washing in the end, of course!). The petals are removed after they've exhaled their beauty onto the tea leaves, and so in a true perfumed tea the petals are for the most part absent. Their flavour possessed no value and if anything - they tend to add an undersiable bitterness to the bouquet. A so-called-perfumed-tea that has a lot of petals in it is often not a true perfumed tea, but a perfume that is aromatized with artificial and/or natural essences, and the dried flowers are added on as a supposed-proof-of-authenticity for those who are uneducated about perfumed teas.

Magnolia Oolong, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Overall, it was an interesting event. I only wish it was a little less crowded to really experience the teas and speak to the vendors. I also hope there will be more educational lectures and presentation in the future.

Tea Time on the North Shore

On a somewhat rainy and not particularly cold afternoon, three ladies of varying ages sat to have some tea at the stuffy Mariage Frères boutique/tea house in West Vancouver (Park Royal).
Tea service included cheescake with stilton and rhubarb and strawberries, pistacchio and sour cherries, and almond and pear tart. This was accompanied by the Sakura 2000 green tea, scented with cherry blossom and rose petals.
I have to say that while I enjoyed the company
And the scent for the day is Terre d'Hermes.
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