Wednesday, July 23, 2008

(My little sister, Melody, about four years ago)

I found a great word today - slubberdegullion. It means "wretched slob". It's not the meaning of the word that fascinates me, but just the fact that there is a word that contains "slubber". It makes me laugh every time I think about it.

I am happy to report that the quality of my life is much improved from my last blog post. Not "absolutely wonderful" yet, but it is at least "good" now.

Again, too hot for tea. Maybe I need to find a summer equivalent of and start a new blog! Tell me what you think:

The Lemonade Snob

The Popsicle Snob

The Otter Pop Snob

The Ben and Jerry's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream Snob

The Frozen Chocolate Snob

The Ice Water Snob

Unfortunately, I do not feel knowledgeable about any of these topics to the extent that I would start a blog on them, or even write a blog post on them.

I am in the process of purging from my home a great deal of unnecessary. I have a large pile to donate to the local charity thrift sale (instead of throwing things away - imagine that!) My bedroom has for so long acted as a storage area that it's really the cancerous area in my apartment right now, and I am trying to spend time every day working on it. The other rooms have remained pretty clean this week.

In fact, the only reason I'm writing this post is to procrastinate. I didn't really have anything meaningful to say (obviously). Goodbye!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Stress and Organization

(Photo courtesy of

Oh, my sanity.

Why, you ask, have I not updated this site?

To be honest, I haven't been very "tea" lately. If I were to express my thoughts and feelings and epiphanies I've had lately, they would probably look like this:


As you may have guessed from the above unintelligable capitalized segment of my recent thoughts, I have been more than a little stressed lately.

And it has mostly been too hot for tea.

When you ask someone, "How are you?", what are the responses you most often receive? For me, I often hear "tired" and "busy". Everyone is always tired. Everyone is always busy. Because of this revelation, I have purposely avoided the use of those words in response to that question for years.

It's probably the pride in me, i.e. the rebel. Because it's not that I'm not tired and busy. Please examine the below short conversation and my thoughts:

Me, to friend. "How are you?"

Friend: "Ugh, tired and busy. How are you?"

Me, also tired and busy, but wanting to cheer up friend, or at least to make the exchange feel half positive: "Good! So, have you not been getting enough sleep? Do you have more homework than usual? What's going on?"

Because of this denial in myself, I am the last person to realize if I am stressed. Please let me know if you are the same way so that we can commiserate. theteasnob @ comcast . net

Well. I have had an extremely stressful week. I am happy to say that I am almost, if not fully recovered (which is a good place to be the day before Monday).

I don't have much else to say. I think I will bring a mug, a bit of milk, and some tea to work tomorrow. I desperately need this week to be better than last, and I am confident it will if I take steps to ensure I don't get too stressed.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Another gorgeous and happy day. I hung my paintings, which look so stunning I cried (just a little bit, though!) I also bought a fern. My living room actually feels like a parlor, but not so stuffy.

I'm usually not one for decorating, which is why I've been here for nearly a year without attempting any kind of furniture rearranging, much less hanging pictures. I have always wanted (or at least I've said I've always wanted) my dwelling to be a safe place - a refuge - for others as well as myself. Without compromising my health and my sanity, I will give as much as I can to those in need of physical, emotional, or spiritual support. It just takes some natural intuition, lots of love, a good dose of Holy Spirit, and life experiences - and suddenly you'll find you often know a good thing to say or do.

I have been learning boundaries lately. Boundaries at work, in ministry, with neighbors, with good friends. When to say "no" and when to stay quiet. I guess I've messed up so much I'm learning what I need to do to protect my sanity, because regardless of what my overzealous conscience thinks, it's not my job to save the world.

For me, that's another kind of surrender. I can give God my life, but I want to take care of everyone else. It's just another thing I want to control, to fix - other people's problems. There are times when I have the opportunity to do that - to make someone a meal, to have a good talk, to let someone spend the night. And there are times when it is best to stop being involved. You know what they say - "You can't help everybody." Here's my response: "I'll help whomever I can. God will help everybody, be it through me or through his Holy Spirit, or through another human like me." It's putting them and their problems in God's hands.

This is not to say that when I see a need, I just ask God to take care of it and keep walking. I have to realize what I'm committing to before I take on a responsibility and make sure I'm up for that. It is so easy to burn out doing ministry, to become disillusioned and tired. And then you become a burden yourself. So you absolutely have to take really good care of yourself. And sometimes that means saying "no" or directing a person to someone else.

Side random thought: Whenever I can't think of what to do in a situation, I consider what my response would be to a friend presenting to me the same problem. Then I do whatever I would tell my friend to do. It works! Have you ever done this? It's always easier to give advice than to remember to follow it.

Friday, June 20, 2008


(These are my two-week old kittens!)

Today was wonderful for a lot of reasons! Enough sleep last night, first day of summer (and the sun was hot, for once!), latte and cinnamon roll and conversation for breakfast, the end of a productive week at work, and Friday, of course!

On Fridays at work, we skip our breaks and take an hour-long lunch, driving to some cheap food place, where we enjoy some time away from work, as well as each others' company. Today we went to Taco Bell, and after half an hour of stuffing our faces and laughing with/at each other, we were done eating. Three of us decided to visit a Japanese tea shop on the other side of the shopping lot. I had been aware of the presence of this shop since I'd moved here, but it said "bubble tea" underneath the sign, and I don't like bubble tea.

Well! The next half hour was restful and enjoyable and full of company of people I love. A gal named Martha sat us down in the tea ceremony chairs and made us small cups of tea. We chatted with her and with each other. The prices were reasonable and we each bought a bit. The experience, in the middle of a hectic workday, was like a breath of fresh air (or a cup of hot tea...).

Then back to work. We worked fast. We worked hard. We flew around like little bees. Then it was time to go home. And I went home. And I cleaned. And I did laundry. And I emptied cat litter (well, I lied about that - but I'm going to do it soon.) I organized. And I paid social time to my daily visiting drunk neighbor (she's very sweet, actually), and I gave my cats love so they would stop meowing at me.

And now I'm sitting here, wondering. Where did I lose sight of the pause in tea?

Sometimes I think I want control of every aspect of my life. In fact, most of the time I think I want control, because I am comfortable when I am in control. That is why I constantly clean and work and help people and be involved in ministries and relationships, because I want to control them, or at least how they affect me.

But I sometimes realize that I just cannot handle all that responsibility. It's usually after a major failure on my part. To deliver it into God's hands is to experience the worst humiliation, the shame of your humanity - and then the utmost relief as you realize you do not need control. And then you feel his love and know that you are his child, and he is actually happy to be taking this burden from you.

Here's what it's like. After a day at work, I am tense, and I have a headache. I come home to a sweltering apartment that smells like cat feces, because one has relieved himself on the floor, because the other one was beating him up. I can't find anything to clean it up with because the floors are completely covered with dirty clothes, dishes, and used Kleenex. I am hungry and grumpy but cannot calm myself down enough to pick something to eat. I have phone calls to make, emails to respond to, and projects to work on. I have zits all over my face and my hair is sticking straight up. I have two coworkers who told my boss that I am incompetent. I have dropped the ball on multiple responsibilities. My rent is five days past due. Moreover, the guy I like told someone he thinks I'm ugly as heck.

And then my best friend comes to my door. I tell her not to come in, because it's really messy. She grabs my hand and pulls me outside and gives me a hug. "Listen," she tells me. "I know you're having a hard day today, and you just want to fix everything. But you can't. Just trust me. Come with me. Let me help you."

We drive to her house, where she has set up a hammock in the yard. "Get in," she tells me. I start to protest, mentioning all the things I have to do. But I get in, and sag down into the hammock. It swings me gently. As I begin to relax, I am aware of the patches of sun on my face coming through the leaves. I am aware of the quiet, majestic swish as the wind rustles the branches. Air seems to be more revitalizing here. I am comforted. I didn't know how distracted I was until my friend brought me back to the way life should be.\

I don't have an ending for this word picture, because I didn't want it to seem "religious" (why is that considered such a bad word?). But the truth is, this continual surrendering to God is both the most difficult and the most wonderful thing we can do for ourselves. It keeps us fit to do the things we should do. And the best part is this: We can trust him! This is not a surrendering into thin air. This is not throwing away problems or responsibilities or control - this is giving them away. But how do you know you can trust him?

If you have experiences in your own life that you can remember when God has proved himself faithful, you can look back on those. If you have friends who might encourage you in this regard, you can ask them to share their testimonies in order to boost your faith. But no matter what your doubts are - no matter what you need to surrender to God, be it your family, pet, house, health, work, or even life - you are going to have to take a lot of risk. Until you reach a point where you can do that, you won't be able to experience the peace that comes from having your life in someone else's hands. Yes, it's scary. No, it's not "safe". But you'll never find peace until you do it.

My only caution is this: Don't do it unless you're sure you're really ready to. You can't do this halfway if you're going to do it.

From then on, it's continual surrendering. I think I know why we humans cannot seem to learn the lesson once and then have it always - because if we didn't keep falling, we wouldn't rely on Jesus.

Tea is surrendering. Tea is admitting that you can't handle life by yourself. Tea is saying, "Okay."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

More Matcha Genmaicha

Image of Yixing teapot courtesy of T Ching.

I used my birthday money and splurged this week. I bought an entire pound of Matcha Genmaicha tea from T Ching, in addition to a Yixing teapot and 50 grams of "Moonlight Oolong", which I have not yet tasted because I have been too busy enjoying my teapot.

You can find more detailed information on Yixing teapots (like the correct pronunciation of "Yixing") by doing a simple Google search, so I'll just tell you that my pot is small, has a strainer at the spout so I don't have to use a separate infuser, and the inside is not glazed, which means it absorbs the flavor of the tea steeped in it. Therefore, it is very important to only steep one kind of tea in each teapot. So, my Yixing teapot is used for Matcha Genmaicha tea henceforth. Amen, and be it so.

I was a little disappointed with my first few cups of tea in my cool new teapot, and I wondered if I'd done something wrong. It didn't taste quite as good as when I brewed it in my plastic infuser, and I wondered if the clay was giving it a flavor I wasn't used to. Of course, the clay teapot made the tea more authentic, so I thought maybe "real" tea didn't taste as good!

But yesterday I went to Safeway with my gallon jug and refilled it with filtered water for 41 cents (which, by the way, is a convenient way of using up spare change, as 41 cents can be made up of one quarter, one dime, one nickel, and one penny.) I made the last few cups of tea for the day with filtered water, and oh, what a difference! I think the filtered water and the clay teapot together made the experience so much more enjoyable. The cup I'm drinking now (first infusion of the day) tastes mild, with none of the "green tea bite" or whatever is the technical term for that sour/bitter taste that comes when improperly making green tea or by making cheap green tea at all (*coughStashcough*). The cups I had last night with the last few infusions were actually sweet.

I'm still searching for my first willing "don't like tea" convert. I'm finding that most people who "don't like tea" really "don't want to try any more tea".

Oh! Another word about the Yixing teapot: I love the way it feels! Maybe it's just mine and not every Yixing pot, but after I pour out the tea, I like holding the hot clay in my hands. There is something so natural and therapeutic about it; it feels absolutely delightful.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Matcha Genmaicha

(Image of Matcha Genmaicha tea courtesy of T Ching)

I wasn't sure which tea to start with when ordering from my new favorite website, T Ching, so I went with the tea currently displayed on the store's home page. Its name? Matcha Genmaicha. Its description?

This is a traditional specialty tea created from the combination of sencha leaves and stems and roasted rice. The teas are made from quality sencha from the second harvest. The tea leaves are mixed with organic toasted rice (GENMAI) and fresh organic Matcha powder. In the cup - a heavenly green color with a delicious toasted, nutty flavor. A great transition tea for coffee drinkers and other newbies to premium whole leaf teas. You will love it.

Well. That describes me - I may not be a newbie to tea in general, but I am a newbie to premium whole leaf teas. So I ordered the smallest amount possible (of course - what if I don't like it?!) and it came today. Actually, it probably came a few days ago, but I have been very lazy about checking my mail lately.

I was a little nervous, I admit. After learning all these things about the proper way to brew tea, and probably lacking the best quality equipment and the purest water, what if I made it wrong and it tasted awful? Green tea has never been a favorite with me, but I was taking a chance here.

The packaging was a cardboard tube, and inside the tube was a small paper bag containing my tea. I smelled it. It smelled really bad. My fear grew. Would I have to admit that I disliked a certain premium whole leaf tea? I, who chides anyone who says "I don't like that tea" and tells them they're just not preparing it correctly?

There were basic instructions/recommendations on the back of the bag including how much tea to use for 8 ounces, the temperature of the water, and the steeping time.

I have never held a meat thermometer in my electric kettle as the water heats up, but I did today. As soon as it hit 165, I poured it into my mug to measure how much tea would fill up the mug and then I poured it from my mug into my "steeper". I don't really know what the proper name for it is - it's one of those nifty loose-tea-individual-cup things where the tea steeps, and then you put this contraption on top of your mug and the tea, minus leaves, comes out!

The instructions said to steep it for thirty seconds. So I counted by "one-one thousand, two-one thousand" till "thirty-one thousand" and hurriedly released the tea into my mug.

The tea was cloudy. It looked weird. I was prepared for the worst. I carried it over to my computer and opened Internet Explorer, then took a sip.

And I actually smiled, because it tasted really good. It was just the right temperature to take a sip big enough to warm all the way down, but not enough to scald. It tasted homey, comforting. I think it's the roasted rice that gives it that element. As I've written this, I've made two more infusions from the leaves. And this tea just plain makes me happy. (Note: I made 5 infusions. The last one was as clear as water, but still had the comforting, toasty taste.)

I'm guessing these 50 grams will last me a month, since you can make multiple infusions. After it's gone I'll buy something else random from T Ching. Check out the T Ching Blog or, if you're feeling greedy or covetous and want to feed your desire for things that are not yet yours, visit the T Ching Store.

Yes, this is blatant advertising. No, they are not paying me for this. No, I do not feel one bit of remorse. Go and have some tea!

Monday, April 21, 2008


(This is Pokey, my little cat that went missing last September. She loved to sleep in a clean sink.)

Here is how I clean: I invite somebody over. Then I take a nap, watch a movie, and goof around on the computer. Ten minutes before they are supposed to arrive, adrenaline starts pumping as I realize my company is going to see what a slob I really am. I make the apartment halfway presentable. When company comes, I apologize for "the mess" (even though it looks much better than it did before) and proceed to clean while talking to them.

That sums it up. Other than that, I get into crazy "cleaning moods" sometimes where I decide I absolutely must scrub the inside of the refridgerator or organize the TV stand or detail clean something more obscure. I vigorously clean and scrub that item, feeling as if I've accomplished something, while ignoring the dirty dishes stacked on the stove, cat litter on the bathroom floor, and twenty loads of laundry to do.

That is why you are not going to get a post today. I cannot justify writing about something as elegant and proper as tea when I am surrounded by unspeakable filth. Instead, I am going to continue cleaning. (Though, a cup of tea does make for an excellent reward for finishing goals! It is difficult, however, to make a cup of tea when there are no clean dishes.)