Thursday, September 6, 2007

Friends are great, aren’t they?

That was my thought for the evening. Despite humidity that just won’t go away, I made hot tea. Not just any tea, but the green tea anemone. The anemone is the performance artist of green tea. Several leaves are bound together. Dry, it is a tight ball of tea leaves. Toss it into hot water and watch it perform. I guess it provides a moment for de-stressing, even a ritual. Not quite the ritual of a tea ceremony, but it was exactly what I needed.

I prop my chin in my hands and watch the green tea anemone slowly float to the bottom of the tall glass and begin its unfolding, I smile through the moment. This thoughtful friend of mine gifted me special tea anemones because these have flower petals hidden inside! She found tea that mirrors the oils I create in my practice. The subtle healing properties of flowers combined with the herbal properties of green tea are likened to the combination of the subtle healing properties of essential oils and Chinese herbs in Elemental Oils. See, friends are great.


Most people know me as a coffee aficionado, essentially pretty particular. If I’m going to have coffee I’m going to have a good cup of coffee as a real Americano or in a French press. If you stop by sometime you will notice I keep very small amounts of Alterra, Metropolis, Stumptown, or Intelligentsia around, but I have a massive collection of tea.

A small portion of my stash comes from jet-setting friends as remembrances from travels to Israel, England, Scotland, Ireland, Holland, China, Japan, Russia, France, and Italy. (I remembered you all.) Most of my collection I order from Specialteas. I love their tea, especially the green tea. I can think of 15 varieties, but I know I have more. Yes, they all vary by the same characteristics that coffee and wine vary – taste, color, body, tannin or acidity. Some days I want a stronger fermented or malty taste, other days I want grassy crisp flavor, or maybe a sweeter floral jasmine or peony.

White Tea

Young soft sometimes fuzzy buds of leaves, and contains the most antioxidant properties.

White tea is usually a great alternative for the caffeine sensitive or for whom tea is too drying.

Green Tea

Mature leaves used in the majority of green tea varieties. We’ve got sencha, bancha, kukicha, genmaicha, and dragonwell to start with.

My foray into tea began with pai mu tan (white peony). Sundays afternoons, a couple with whom I shared an Angelic Organics food share would sip white peony green tea and eat mung bean tea cakes while I divided out veggies. That was a long time ago.

Intelligentsia used to carry a green earl grey – drinking that was like a 2 for 1!

A basic green with grassy taste

My favorite memory with sencha tea is skipping a continuing education class (before I was licensed) with a friend to sip cherry sencha while lying on the lawn of
Balboa Park reading our new used books from bookstore

Roasted, full flavored leaves

"Twig tea" because it is made from the twigs and branches of the plant
This is generally my rainy, foggy morning at home tea

Green tea with toasted rice

I suppose it is delicate, but it’s not my favorite

Partially fermented and therefore has more caffeine and a stronger flavor.

I was told by a tea seller at a conference that no one loves all green teas; you either love oolong or you hate it. I just pursed my lips, nodded and walked on. As usual I don’t fit the supposed norm; I haven’t met a variety of green tea I didn’t like.

There is no other green tea that you want aged. Aging is for wine but Pu’er tea is the exception. This one is fermented and aged and classified just like wines. Seriously robust and great for digestion (and hangovers).

You know as well as I do that tea has antioxidant properties. Every magazine or television show has informed you over many years. Antioxidants assist the body in removing free radicals - those lovely molecules generated by cells of our body upon exposure to toxin, viruses, germs, fungi, stress, pollution, and chemicals. At first they are beneficial to us destroying unwanted invaders but everything is affected by imbalance.

Free radicals begin to attack the cellular DNA which directs key cell activity, the body wards off attack with antioxidant defense – free radical scavengers. I could go on and tell you all that happens but essentially free radical damage is partially responsible for aging and disease. There are many aspects of nutrition that will help on the antioxidant front. I will only say so many times, “EAT MORE GREENS.” So instead drink a couple cups of tea daily, you will receive a mild to moderate caffeine boost and will get busy on the free radicals. my old standby cute but the novelty has worn off 3 years later green tea anemone with flower petals now has powdered green tea. Look mom, no bags!

And if you’d rather:

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Loosely defined recipes

For $3.77 I was able to buy enough (non-organic) veggies for a salad. I know, I should be in rhythm with the earth, but when it is an amazing 80+ degree day in September, I am making salad!

Testosterone anyone? brassicas and beans are beneficial for testosterone (photo and beans from

1/2 head of small red cabbage, chopped

1 cup of green beans, chopped
1 cup of broccoli stems, diced

1 large cucumber, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 cup quinoa, cooked
3/4 cup of ojo de tigre beans, cooked
several sprigs of dill chopped
juice of 2 limes
a dash of rock salt
(optional: I added a drizzle of scotch bonnet pepper agave i made awhile back)
almonds and pepitos for garnish and more crunch!

I am content eating most of my vegetables raw or steamed. Here are some ideas for alternative ways to eat some of the veggies I mentioned in the previous post.

I love to cut in half, brush with olive oil and grill it. It will end up tender, less bitter and tasty.

Brussel Sprouts
There's always just steaming them whole and quick saute in butter and garlic

Wilted Brussel Salad
For winter, shred brussel sprouts and radicchio, add dried fruit and beans and toss with a warm dressing usually of fruit puree or juice with lemon, herbs and oil. The salad will wilt with the addition of a warm dressng. A great addition to a cozy meal at home.

Mustard Greens
Spicy Miso Soup
Miso paste can be bought at most natural food stores either in the a refrigerated area or in the asian section. Simmer miso, do not boil or it will lose its healing properties.

Mix a tablespoon of miso paste to small amount of simmering water until the paste is dissolved. Add that to 2 cups of water simmering in pot with sliced ginger and garlic. Add more miso if you prefer a richer broth.

Cut up a heaping handful of mustard greens and add to pot and continue to simmer til wilted.

Serve warm.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

tis the first

Woohoo, we've got Trebuchet font! Matches my website. It's the little things that make life go round.
I've been wondering how, how should i get my information out there. I don't talk much, I don't journal much but maybe a weekly blog will keep my mental creative juices flowing. A new years resolution in September. It works.

(photo from

So here I post the first quicky of an article that a friend gave the A-OK on:

I reluctantly face the reality of Summer passing into Autumn into Winter. The Midwest autumn contains a hint of summer warmth, but the truth is our personal and collective rhythm should shift with the rhythm of the Earth.

In the Five Element theory of Oriental Medicine, Autumn is Metal. We’ve left the Fire element behind us with Summer, and the Water of Winter isn’t far off.

The expansive outward yang energy of Summer is waning. Metal is contraction, condensation and crystallization - the time of more yin, inward and downward movement. The Metal element is connected to the skin and pores, the Lung and Large Intestine. Therefore an imbalance in Metal can result in respiratory or skin problems, constipation or immune dysfunction. Autumn, Metal, and related organs release and let go. This is the time to reflect and to let go of which no longer serve us.

This summer, the abundant rain swelled the wooden door in my backyard. It would stick, a hard yank and slam would announce each tenant’s coming and going. That dampness of summer rain swelled and stagnated the door just as the excesses of our sociable summer can accumulate in our bodies causing sluggishness, foggy-headedness, and maybe digestive or sinus issues.

I needed to exert more energy to open my backyard door just as it would take more energy to work with my sluggish body. Eventually the sun dried the dampness from the door, but sometimes a person needs more than warmth from the summer sun to clear the dampness from the body.

The sweetness of summer fruit, juices, pastries and ice creams can add to the dampness that causes sluggishness and heaviness. Balancing all the seasonal flavors of sour, bitter, spicy, bland, salty and sweet will reduce potential for imbalance. Introducing bitter and spicy flavors will cleanse the body of the damp excess.

Lungs are most susceptible to imbalance and the most easily strengthened during the Autumn. Respiratory imbalances will be fraught with mucous and tight heavy-headedness. Infections will cling to the dampness throughout the winter without intervention.

To flow with the seasonal rhythm and to strengthen the Metal element, experiment with pungent greens and warming spicy teas to activate qi (energy) to push outward and upward raising warming yang energy and maintaining yin. Look for arugula, radish, kale, mustard and turnip greens, horseradish, chives, and brassicas – cabbages, brussel sprouts, broccoli rabe, radicchio, and endive. Make herbal teas with fresh nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and cinnamon.

You will clear away dampness and strengthen the immune and respiratory systems for the next season. Practice yoga, qi gong, or receive tonifying and cleansing acupuncture for the Lung and Large Intestine.

Watch the leaves change and fall and feel the North winds blow, follow the same rhythm turning inward and reflecting and you will be living more balanced and harmonious.