Loose Tea Nerd

November 26th, 2014

I’ve had some requests for a tea post, and this cold rainy day is perfect for it! I didn’t always love tea, it was an acquired taste for me. The calming ritual of brewing it, the scents, colors, and my mug fetish kept me coming back for more until the flavors grew on me.

Lately I get most of my teas from Tin Roof Teas. They offer monthly tea tastings, and the walls of the shop are covered in every tea you can imagine. Lucky for you guys they now accept online orders, so if you aren’t in the Raleigh area you can still shop. I’ve also worked my way through a bunch of teas from DavidsTea over the years, and they have some great ones too.

If you don’t know much about preparing tea, the most important thing is not to brew it in water that’s too hot and not to brew it for too long—otherwise you can end up with some foul tasting concoctions. Any loose tea worth its salt will be labeled with the amount of tea to use per cup, the brewing temperature, and time. I’m a little lazy and don’t use a thermometer—I just put the kettle on and listen for that hissing noise the water makes when it’s hot but not boiling. You’ll need a good infuser with super tiny holes to make sure the leaves don’t escape into your mug. Basket infusers like this work great and give the tea room to expand. This is how I store my tea collection.

I’m going to recommend some teas, but for the record I’m pretty terrible at describing the flavor nuances and scents beyond “yum” or “it smells good”. If you really want to geek out, head over to steepster.com and read some wonderfully eloquent tea reviews. Sometimes I don’t even realize what flavors I’m tasting until I read someone else’s description.

I started out drinking herbal and fruit teas. Tin Roof’s Blackberry Royale and Roasted Almond are winners. You won’t believe the vibrant colors that come out of them! Peppermint tea is a safe bet too. I like this one from Stash.

loose tea nerd

Rooibos teas are also great for beginners. They’re caffeine free and never get bitter (even if you accidentally steep them too long or in water that is too hot). There are tons of rooibos flavors and combinations out there. Tin Roof’s Rooibos Cream Caramel and DavidsTea’s Jessie’s Tea are both excellent.

loose tea nerd

White teas are really subtle and a good choice for tea novices too. Sometimes the color and taste are so subtle that I’m like, “Wait, am I just drinking hot water?” They’re not all like that though—Tin Roof’s China Fancy White Peony and DavidsTea’s Gold Rush are truly scrumptious.

loose tea nerd

At first I hated green teas, because I thought they were always bitter. It turned out I was brewing them for too long and in water that was too hot. Green teas are usually brewed at around 165 degrees F and only for a minute or two. Then you’ll end up with a cup of sweet deliciousness (that’s good for you too!). I’m particularly fond of Tin Roof’s Sencha Fuka-midori and DavidsTea’s Gyokuro Yamashiro. (Just don’t ask me how to pronounce those names.)

loose tea nerd

Oolongs are yum. They’re a happy middle ground between a green and black tea. Milk oolongs (like this one) are my very favorite. You won’t believe how creamy they taste—and the scent! There’s nothing like it. Ginseng oolongs (like this one) are another excellent choice—the sweet ginseng hits you after you take a sip.

loose tea nerd

I don’t love straight black teas, but maybe I’ll come around some day. I love black tea in chai with milk and sugar though! This is how I make Masala chai from scratch, but it’s a little time consuming. Tin Roof’s Tiger Eye Chai and DavidsTea’s Saigon Chai are both delicious. You know, Earl Grey is pretty good too as far as black teas go. I just haven’t found my ultimate favorite yet.

loose tea nerd

In case anyone else is wondering, two of the three tea plants I planted last year are still alive, but they haven’t grown at all. Bugs really seem to like to eat them, and I think the climate just isn’t ideal for them here.

If you have any tea questions feel free to ask. I’ll try to answer or make something up that sounds feasible! ;)

(I pulled these tea photos from the websites that sell them—Tin Roof Tea and DavidsTea.)

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Bunny Sitting

November 20th, 2014

My sister recently joined the ranks of house rabbit owners. She’s on vacation this week, so I get to bunny-sit my new niece, Misha the Flemish Giant. Misha is still growing, so we’re waiting to see just how giant she’ll get! Right now she’s about Mabel’s size. Watching a big bunny and a small dog entertain each other might be the cutest thing ever.

flemish giant house rabbit

Mabel and Misha like to play a sort of whac-a-mole inspired game. Misha hides under the bed poking her nose out in different places, and Mabel rushes over every time she spots her.flemish giant house rabbit

Then, while Mabel is still looking under the bed where she last saw the bunny, Misha pops out from under the other side and sneaks up on Mabel from behind.

flemish giant house rabbit

It’s kind of hilarious.

flemish giant house rabbit

Aww, bunny butt!

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New Stamps!

November 18th, 2014

As promised, I just added a batch of new stamps to the shop!

Every geology teacher needs to own this “you rock” stamp, so if you know a geology teacher send them my way. (Great for non-geology teachers, too.)

you rock rubber stamp

A long while ago a customer suggested that I come up with a “please deliver to” stamp without the lines underneath. So finally, here it is!

please deliver to stamp

Gold stars are the best rewards. Here’s a gold star stamp, because stamps are cooler than those little foil stickers.

gold star rubber stamp

A big thank you to Lara for suggesting that I create a “do not bend” stamp for photos. I had a blast looking at old cameras to coming up with this design.

camera do not bend rubber stamp

This “not a bill” stamp will ensure that your outgoing happy mail isn’t mistaken for sad mail.

not a bill rubber stamp

This ribbon award stamp is great for a zillion occasions, but I’d recommend using it for something sarcastic. For example, make a “most dirty dishes left in the sink” award for your roommate/husband.

ribbon award rubber stamp

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Sketchbook 11.14.14

November 14th, 2014

I’ve got some sketchbook pages to share! First of all, I’m going to be adding a batch of new rubber stamps to the shop next week! Here’s a little teaser, although some of the final designs changed quite a bit from these original sketches.

wit & whistle sketchbook

wit & whistle sketchbook

wit & whistle sketchbook

I did the produce basket sketches below as I worked on a card design for Water for Good, a non-profit organization working to improve the living conditions in the Central African Republic. They’re offering charitable gift cards for the holidays—perfect for that person who already has everything. You can peek at the final card design I contributed to represent their agricultural program right here. There are gift cards designed by other artists available for their well drilling efforts and radio program, too. Pretty cool!

wit & whistle sketchbook

wit & whistle sketchbook

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Fall Love List

November 12th, 2014

I’m hoping you’ll allow me one more fall themed post! The Japanese maple tree in our front yard is on fire right now, and I couldn’t help grabbing my camera. This past summer I posted a list of all the things I love about summer, and now I want to do the same for fall since it is my favorite! What would you include on your fall love list? Did I miss anything?

fall love list

fall love list

fall love list

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