Tea Time (and brewing and blending the perfect tea)

Tea has been a long standing tradition in every culture around the world.  Many times the teas were medicinal, other times sacred.  Mostly shared in moments of friendship or sometimes as a break from the day.  From Japanese tea ceremonies to 4:00 tea time, tea is a lovely custom.

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Despite my family being on American soil for three to four hundred years now, our European DNA hasn’t altered much.  For me, 4:00 and 8:00 are automatically timed within me to make a spot of tea.  Sharing tea is wonderful if I have someone over.  My mother always drinks tea in lovely tea cups throughout the day.  I do as well.  My daughters followed suit.  The cup is important.  Drinks taste different in varying cups and always taste better shared.

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This is my new tea set.  I love Japanese gardens and I adore ponds of koi.  This sweet set reminds me of our travels to gardens and it reminds me to take a moment to breathe.  In this set, you put the loose tea in the pot, let steep, then pour through the strainer into the pitcher and serve in tiny cups.  This tea pot calls for Genmaicha tea.  It is a fragrant green tea with toasted rice.

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I was given my first tea set when I was ten years old for Christmas from my Grandma and Grandpa.  A miniature tea set with espresso-sized cups with pink rose buds.  I had a Tuesday Tea Party where I was allowed to invite a friend over and my mother made us tea with real sugar cubes and small snacks.

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One of my favorite teas is a good black tea like Earl Grey or Assam, with agave and cream.  Or maybe brewed with honey and orange peel instead.

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Use 1 teaspoon of loose tea per cup of near boiling water and steep for 4 minutes.  You can use dried herbs like mint, roses, or yarrow.  I grow my own jasmine as a houseplant and it is lovely as tea.  Combine herbs and teas and enjoy to your heart’s content.  Tea is low in caffeine, filled with antioxidants and health benefits, and is good for the spirit.  It makes you slow down, breathe, and take a moment to be present.

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Japanese Friendship Garden

The gardens are beautiful here in Arizona.  Today we visited the Japanese Friendship Garden in Phoenix.  These wild ducklings befriended me.

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This park is filled with ideas that I would love to incorporate into my own gardens.

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I love the rain chains.  They softly carry water down its rings into a place designated for water flow that carefully takes the water to designated gardens.  The sound is soft and tinkling as the water flows easily down the chain.

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The sound of water is so soothing and a simple solar powered fountain would really be nice near my greenhouse.

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A place to have tea near the water feature would be a lovely respite.

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Koi need to be able to drop below three feet in order not to freeze.  I don’t think it is warm enough in our area to have them, but I do love their gaping mouths and sparkling, colored scales.

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The stone lanterns were used to light meandering paths.

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Statues add something special to ordinary garden spaces.

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This is a lovely, small park with pine trees shaped like bonsai  and entertaining birds, koi, and water features.  Shaded spaces and benches to sit and contemplate round each corner.  They have public and private tea ceremonies.  If you are in the Phoenix area, it is only seven dollars to walk through the Japanese Friendship Garden.

Meandering Paths (shunning straight rows)

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I have visions of meandering paths.  Perennials interspersed with annuals.  Gardens in themes.  Soft grass (or mowed weeds) in the path.  Maybe wood chips.  Maybe pea gravel.  I want to walk upon something soft.  My granddaughter never wears shoes, what would she love to walk on?

Hills and secret benches for pondering butterflies.  A pond or two.  Corn growing the way I have read in old American Indian gardening recollections, a large hill, seven kernels around, squash plants growing between mounds.  Beans of course growing up the corn.

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What if we took a world journey through the gardens?  What if you begin your trek by the multiple rose bushes in the English garden and walk past the peas and cucumbers, radishes, lettuce…

Then you turn the bend and suddenly you are in Ireland?  There are swirling mounds of potatoes and kale, parsnips and cabbage.

In Italy the tomatoes would be red and plump near the eggplant and oregano.  The basil and zucchini and artichokes (I’ll try to grow them here.) and garlic tucked amongst.

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In the Asian garden yard long red beans hang over soybeans and pak choi.  Snow peas for stir fry interspersed with Thai basil and green onions.

In the Americas the corn will stand proudly waving with pumpkins at its feet.  The old varieties of beans will slither upwards.  Homage to my southern ancestors with collard greens and sweet potatoes (I’ll try to grow those here too!).

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Flags or little statues and annual flowers join in the fun.  And the medicine plants will fill all spaces, rest assured.  Forty plus varieties of herbs that we use in medicine will add beauty and pollinators to the spaces.

The orchard will be grand, with plum and cherry (cherry bark for medicine), apples, and apricots, willow, and hawthorn, sumac, maple, and bushes of berries.  A meditation pool.  A fire pit.

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A place of enchantment is what I wish to create, not just for sustenance of the body this time, but for sustenance of the soul….