08 May 2019


Warning: rant ahead

I have Instagram, and quite a few other social networking/media accounts, and spend more time looking through these than I care to admit.  So I'm not here to denounce the entire idea of it all, but to whine a bit about some of the more irritating side effects.

Let me get a related rant out of the way first.  I don't drive, but I know there's laws in place for people who text and drive, or basically for anyone who is distracted by their phones instead of concentrating on the road.  This is good, but what about pedestrian hazards? It's rude to walk while writing on and scrolling through your phone.  We all do it to a point, and it'd be impossible to police everyone doing so.  But while crossing a street it is downright dangerous. I have to dodge bikes (and sometimes cars) that blow through red lights, only to find someone in the zebra crossing too engrossed in whatever's on their screen to care about who is in their path.  This is all bad enough, but I don't take it personally - not until it interferes with my tea enjoyment!

This brings us to a situation that occurred recently.  It was an unseasonably warm weekend day, and I found myself near the Flatiron District.  I've always liked that area, because it's busy enough without being Midtown crazy (usually).  I decided to go to Cha Cha Matcha, as I've been trying to get there for a while.  I was worried I might not find a seat once inside, but surprisingly one became quickly available.  I'd planned to try their Matcha Latte, but as it was warm and I'd seen someone sitting with ice cream, I decided to go for that (matcha banana swirl, very good.) I took a quick and not very quality picture of my ice cream for the Instagrams, and dug in.  Because, like I said, I'm not against sharing some of my minutia.
Bad lighting, good ice cream!


There were two girls sitting to my right, who both had beverages that looked amazing, and otherwise weren't dressed up (t-shirts, jeans, maybe more makeup than necessary but no let's not judge), who spent the entire time there taking pictures of each other and their drinks using their phones.  If they had expensive camera equipment I would theorize that they were doing an important photo shoot, though that didn't make much sense on a busy Saturday.  All I know is that they barely said a word to each other, just posed and posed.  I would not have cared - I see that sort of thing in Central Park all the time - but one of the girls had her back to me and kept leaning back until her hair nearly touched my ice cream.  

Can't I catch a break in these places already?

Otherwise, aside from the loud music, I liked Cha Cha Matcha, as I think most people would.  It's festive with its pinks and greens, and if the ice cream was any indication, the latte is probably good too.  I would like to go back, so this is no criticism of the place itself.  I simply don't understand the need to document everything in such a way that any actual appreciation is ignored in favor of "likes".  The girls were probably, at least in their estimation, "influencers".  Now I know some people build entire careers around the ability to recommend products and look attractive doing so.  Fine, if there's a market for it.  But I cannot see what exactly came out of taking a billion pictures of some beverages...and that's me talking!

If anything, please try to strike a balance.  I go to tea rooms and bookshops (the main things I like to write about), and while I'm there I often take a few notes and pictures in plans to blog later.  Then, I get on with the business of living a little.  If I'm with someone else, I try to use my limited attention span to be present with that person, because we all need flesh and blood connection.  Some people go to tourist sites merely to buy souvenirs from the gift shop.  Others visit the gift shop on the way out to buy gifts for others and a memento for themselves to solidify what they've seen.  I prefer to be the latter.

01 May 2019

Taking Floral Teas

Just in time for May, it's time to talk about something near and dear to my heart, in which love I am certainly not alone: flowers!  And not just flowers, but the kind you infuse either alone or with its good friend, tea.

Not everyone likes floral scented or infused tea.  That's okay, the world is full of differing opinions and tastes.  Honestly, if made too strong, it can be a bit like drinking perfume heated and served in a pretty cup.  Done just right, which for me means subtly, it can be a treat to smell and taste. Today  I will go through the floral teas I like, and then the ones I don't like as much.

Rose: An old favorite in some black tea, and a good complement to other flowers and herbs.  As flowers go, they're not my favorite; probably because I associate them with funerals. but sprinkled in tea, I am far from mourning.

Violet: I'm one of those people who like those violet candies, and I like violet just as much in black tea.  I'd had it before, but after having a cup with my Victoria sponge cake in Lovecrumbs, Edinburgh, I had renewed appreciation for its delicate beauty.  Now I'm rarely without some in my tea cupboard.  I also have a Violet Rose tea from Simpson and Vail, and it's tastygorgeous!

Lavender: This features more in my herbal tea collection.  I love lavender: the smell, the taste, its clean, calming qualities; and if you're about to comment on its "old lady" associations, there's the door!  I have a Lavender Lime tea from Celestial Seasonings which is an odd but good pairing!  And there is nothing quite like a London Fog Latte when they remember the lavender.

Jasmine: And I......., will always love yoooouuuuu...Seriously, I don't crave this every day, but it is a classic, and it may be a good way to coax someone into drinking green tea. For some reason I find it gets me more jittery than other ways of drinking green tea (matcha lattes are a close second), so I limit my intake.

Hibiscus: Very nice hot, full of healthy properties, and a pleasure iced.  A good alternative to Sweet Tea in the (American) South.  It can be kind of tart, so use care in how strong you make it!

Chamomile: I don't drink this for pleasure, but as a calming infusion, and an aid to digestion.  Love the tiny daisy look of the flower, dislike the scent.  Well mixed with other herbs, as it is in Sleepytime (hello again, Celestial Seasonings!), and I'm sold.

Lilac: I have a pouch of lilac black tea from Simpson and Vail, and it's my least favorite of their floral teas.  I don't hate it,  but, meh.

I found a place in the East Village that shares my love for all things tea and flowers: JQK Floral Tea.  It features hot and iced teas and lattes with most of the above flowers, and additionally Osmanthus and Chrysanthemum.  I'm pretty sure I've had chrysanthemums in my tea at some point, but not enough to make a commentary.  So adventures awaits!  It's a nice space, not huge but not hole in the wall tiny.  I had a Rose Hojicha iced tea when I stopped by, and based on this I will return.  Maybe on one of my Flower Fridays!

What are your favorite floral teas?