Spring is here and I've got the fever! To celebrate winter's end I'm offering a 15% discount on all teas. Order here and enter the discount code: BLOOM (in caps). If you come by the shop, just mention flowers and we will honor the discount. Yes, the flowers are bursting, but it’s still cold in Oregon so hurray, more time for tea with friends. Also, Mothers Day is just around the corner, so order your gifts soon!
I used to read poems and books where spring was referenced. I knew lots of songs whose lyrics celebrated the renewal and anticipation of SPRING. But, I never truly understood the intensity of this season until I moved to Portland. I grew up in a desert, yes LA is a desert, even though the water thieves of years gone by still deny it. Spring is when the thaw happens, the ground remembers warmth and nature begins to wake up, sending us gifts you could never invent. (Plants are far more interesting to me than robots.) Thank you Mother Nature and Oregon for teaching me about spring.
TEA TRIP: This past March I was invited to the island of Kyushu. I wasn’t planning another trip to Japan this year even though it’s the only place I think about going back to. Every. Single. Day. I haven’t felt the world to be a very safe hospitable place lately, but in Japan I feel held, taken care of, and well, really safe, especially as a woman traveling alone. I’m not sure why that is because we all know that those islands have had their fair share of tragedy and disaster the past decade (and beyond). I understand some things so well when I’m there, while other things totally mystify me. That’s the intrigue! My favorite new takeaway word this trip was Tokie Dokie — it means sometimes! Sometimes I get it, sometimes I don’t.
So, as I was saying, I was going to stay home this spring, but received an email from one of my tea vendors inviting me to come visit their farms and facilities in southern Japan. Who could say no to that? It was five solid days of smelling, drinking and eating tea, along with country lunches, elegant dinners and even a night at the local karaoke bar with all the sake (and whisky) refills one could handle. Many of the Kagoshima farmers we met are part of the cooperative so they can compete with the other famous tea growing regions of Japan, like Kyoto and Shizuoka, and grow their export business together. Sharing processing facilities, admin, and ideas, they will grow together and produce even better teas. These tea farmers are well aware of the growing matcha market and are ramping up their knowledge and capabilities in that arena. Instead of sending their premium tencha (shade grown tea leaves) to the north so other matcha producers can then grind it and sell it and make the big bucks, they are making matcha themselves. I was so honored to be hosted on this lush sub-tropical island and to experience delicious tea, spring blossoms, friendship and more. Email me to try the pure green deliciousness of these Kagoshima senchas - rich, grassy and full bodied with a smooth silky texture. I use this organic sencha in my blend Green Green Grass of Home however I also have it unblended for those of you who prefer a pure green sencha. To get the pure tea, you must email me to order, as it's not posted on the site. Stay youthful and vital: drink green tea!
T PROJECT GALLERY: Time Capsule opening April 20th, Friday, 4-7 PM. Seven works on paper by Portland artist, Laura Burke, a recent graduate of PNCA with a degree in printmaking. I'm so excited to share these works that shine a fresh light on the still life genre. Burke’s art appealed to me instantly when I discovered her on Instagram. There was a poetic, almost sorrowful playfulness in these piecework drawings. I had to own one! I sensed the craft, her skill, even on a tiny 1x1 inch iPhone image. Flowers and vessels are a consistent motif in this body of work where the artist creates 'time capsules' maintaining and extending the transitory life of an object or live flower. These imagined arrangements are a collage of experience and memory for the viewer. Burke writes, “A flower can’t hope to survive the years a bowl does, but by rendering them into these scenes, they’re given the same chance. I don’t know how to write poems, so I draw them instead.” The show will be up through May 19th, check hours on website or call for appointment.
One of my favorite Portland potters, Katie VonLehman, made T Project our very own proprietary tea bowls. I made a suggestion and Katie ran with the ball...or bowl! Glazed in olive green or white, sipping from these stunning vessels makes my sencha taste even better. They also cradle my favorite spring soup, Spring Nettles & herbs, perfectly! See recipe below. Limited bowls available.
FRAZIER & WING POP UP MAY 5th SATURDAY 12-5 PM
How lucky we are to have Frazier + Wing, a made-to-order clothing collection, right on our doorstep. Focused on the craft of dressmaking, Heather Frazier’s pieces are designed, cut and sewn by her just down the road from T Project. I LOVE my cream colored F&W dress with big usable patch pockets! Join us for tea & treats at T Project Saturday afternoon, May 5th.
READING, LISTENING TO AND LOVING:
Hippie Food by Jonathan Kaufman
Jose James (going to see him in Seattle in May!!!)
Articles by Robert Svoboda, Ayurvedic master and teacher
NPR Podcast How I Built This (giving me the courage to forge onward)
My Simple Nettle Soup
3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 celery stalk, finely chopped
1/2 small carrot, finely chopped
2 stalks green garlic, chopped OR 1 clove garlic, chopped
1 potato, peeled and chopped to 1/2 inch chunks
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 large gathering of wild nettles, blanched and chopped (see internet on cooking and dealing with the prickly little leaves i.e.wear gloves) should equal about 1 cup greens when water is squeezed out of the cooked greens.
3 cups chicken stock or water
1/4 cup creme fraiche, optional
4 pretty Katie VonLehman bowls, to serve (selling online Monday)
Warm butter or oil on medium heat. Saute one medium onion for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add celery and carrot. Add green garlic or garlic. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes. Add potato and salt and stir another minute or so. Add the broth or water and bring to boil. Turn down to simmer and cover for 5 or so minutes until potato is cooked. Add the balanced nettle greens and cook another 5 minutes on simmer, stirring a little here and there Allow to cool a bit and using an immersion blender, puree the soup. Or, use a blender, being careful to hold down the lid if the soup is still hot. Rewarm if needed and ladle into the pretty T Project/KVL bowls. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and a dollop of creme fraiche (if you like) and EAT hot. (Taste to season.)