ZEN & PICKLED EGGS





Have you ever had a beet pickled egg? They are objects of beauty, pluck, vibrancy and delight. Just look at them for goodness sake! I dare you not to smile, ooh and aah, then toss one back.  Then one more. The technique to make these is simple and the effect, dazzling. I'll do anything for color . . .

Slightly sour, heady with savory whole spices and rich with a tender yolk -- these eggs are arrogant in their splendor. They are the champion of afternoon snacks (or outstanding cocktail fare).

What to wash the bright egg down with? My favorite grocery store brand tea blend -- Tazo's Zen Tea. This comobonation of green tea, spearmint and lemon grass is the perfect soothsayer to the acidic, bold flavors of the pickled egg. It's a calming, healing and aromatic tea; ideal for afternoon. It has a little caffeine so can help bridge the sometimes interminable gap between lunch and dinner. Those blasted 5 or 6 hours can seem to go for ages when you're an eater like me!


Pickled Eggs
makes 12 halves

6 eggs
1 can beets with juice
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon peppercorns (I used fiery pink peppercorns)
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
fresh dill + dill flowers
1 teaspoon salt

Hard boil the eggs and discard the shells. In a large jar or bowl, prepare your brine by mixing vinegar, beet juice, beets, sugar, and spices. Stir the ingredients to evenly distribute everything. Lower the cooked eggs into the brine and cover for 12 hours, or up to 3 days. The longer you leave them to sit, the more pink and pickley they'll taste.

Slice in half and serve with extra dill flowers as garnish.

A Cuppa with Arna Bee


Arna Bee is a positive force, unbelievable photographer and bearer of the most infectious laugh. Her energy lights up the room by about a million watts. This girl is one of my role models and I'm constantly learning from her. We have the great luck of being able to call upon each other when we're looking for an assistant, extra pair of eyes and general muse buddy. Having a friend in the same industry as you is so so important, and I'm grateful to have Arna in my court to hash out pricing, talk shop and be inspired by. Plus, I'm definitely going to try Arna's grandmother's method for steeping rose hips and other flowers to relieve aches and pains. Grannies know everything!

What is your favorite type of tea and how do you take it? Iced mint tea with fresh mint from garden, a squeeze of lemon and Ojai Sage Honey for sweetness. Best served in bell jar with stripy straw lying in sunshine.
  
How does tea punctuate your day? There’s nothing like a ‘staycation’ – when the sun peaks through Mesa fog it’s time to take a break from editing and projects to meditate on goodness around the casa.

My tea accompaniment of choice is: Santa Barbara’s abundance in fresh produce year round is a true blessing. A giant grapefruit, a bowl of blueberries or for the days needing extra oomph chocolate almonds hit the spot.

Beirut radio on Pandora has been my summer choice for frolicking and skipping through the day . . .  is on when I'm having tea.

I first started drinking tea when . . .  My grandparents came to Germany from Bosnia. I remember my grandma steeping rose hip tea, chamomile and mint for little aches and warming on cool evenings.

My dream tea party would include . . .  A group of my favorite soul sisters in summer dresses, playing jazzy French music and a table full of colorful finger foods in a woodsy summer scene.

When I sip from my tea cup, I . . . Close my eyes and focus on the now, as much as my self allows.

LEMON YOGURT CAKE & STEVEN SMITH'S MEADOW TEA



We had a brief and perfect moment of coolness between a mighty heat wave. Post 7am pancake party, I settled into the idea that a tea cake should happen. With a basket of lingering lemons and a tub full of yogurt, the French standby would surely fit the bill. I'd save half for us to nibble on while watching the new Woody Allen documentary and the rest, divy up in wax paper amongst friends. A plan was hatched and executed. While stirring up the batter, I got to thinking about the ins and outs of tea cakes. I know what perfect snacking tea cake is by what it is not . . .

My qualifications for a great tea cake are as follows:

• not too sweet
• could be improved the next day by popping a slice in the toaster and slathering its surface with a big gob of butter and/or jam
• baked into a loaf shape, not a circle pan
• tender crumb
• bouncy and rich, but not greasy
• could take a lashing of icing, yet delicious by itself
• does not induce dessert guilt, its a confection dressed in breakfast/afternoon snack clothes
• sturdy enough to stuff into the bottom of a backpack for a bike ride then a picnic

This tea cake comes together quickly and always hits the spot. My favorite variation is this one, flaked with bright lemony flavor. The yogurt keeps the crumb tender, flexible and moist, the hint of rum adds depth and a golden hue. Don't skimp on it. And the butter, it makes the whole thing better than the oil the original recipe calls for.

Lemon Yogurt Cake
makes 1 9"x 5" loaf - adapted from Chocolate and Zucchini

1 cup whole milk yogurt
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted butter (a little extra for greasing the pan)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon Rum
1 2/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
zest from one lemon

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour the loaf pan, set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, eggs and sugar. Add the melted butter, vanilla and rum. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet. Finally stir the lemon zest in.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes, when deep golden brown color is achieved. Let cool for about an hour before slicing.


Meadow Tea
The delicate flowers of chamomile and rose petals sit merrily atop the surface of a tiny tea cup. Meadow tea by Steven Smith is just that -- a walk through a sunny hilltop covered in wildflowers and tall grasses. It tastes like running your fingers atop a field, all summer and light. Steven Smith is based in Portland and blends vivid tastes, notes and stories into each and every tea. I'm sure he'll be popping up here again in the near future.

• Visit Steven Smith Online: Steven Smith
• Read the article I wrote about Steven Smith for The Kitchn: Expert Interview: Brewing the Perfect Cup with Steven Smith

SUMMER TEA ACCOMPANIMENT: BUNNY & WILD BLACKBERRIES

Summer has us in it's glorious clutches. It's almost too hot for tea, almost but not quite. Besides isn't there a thing about hot beverages cooling you down because you start to sweat while drinking them? In India, chai wallas endorsed this mystery.

The perfect summer accompaniments to a cup of tea are surely a wild blackberries pick by the side of a farm and a chance encounter with a fat bunny rabbit. Goodness, I love August in the Pacific Northwest!

A Cuppa With Rikke Hansen



Rikke Hansen is a Career Change Expert based in London. She helps women who are ready to ditch their unfulfilling jobs by showing them how to identify and create the business or career that is perfectly suited to their unique personality, skills and passions. Isn't that an amazing profession? She also helps people within their jobs grow and change to reach their goals.  Rikke helped me sort through a few ideas for my business while she was on holiday in Portland last month. It was a joy to connect with her as she is an inspiring person and avid drinker of tea. We laughed a lot! Rikke clued me in on several tea shops in Portland I didn't even know about -- love it when that happens. Cheers Rikke!

What is your favorite type of tea and how do you take it?  Japanese Sencha (a grassy green tea with good umami) – brewed at 80/176 degrees in my beloved turquoise Stump teapot….Aaaaah!
I highly recommend Foxfire Teas in Portland and Postcard Teas in London for their unique selections. In US retail, Rishi does a beautiful Sencha too.

How does tea punctuate your day? I love it first thing in the morning (after having written my morning focus pages and set my business/personal intentions for the day) when my taste buds are still perfectly pure and able to capture subtle nuances (which just doesn’t’ happen later on). This is when I truly get to savor the full tea tasting experience in all its glory!

My tea accompaniment of choice is: A special ‘perfume cup’ designed by the fab Timothy d’Offay from Postcard Teas here in London. Its unique design enables the top of the cup to capture/concentrate as much of the fragrance of the teas as possible. I rarely drink Sencha tea with my food. I prefer Oolong or Genmaicha for that.

Silence… is on when I'm having tea… Though I love and often indulge in  music and powerful conversation,  I have recently come to appreciate the power of silence for both work and sensualist pursuits.

I first started drinking tea when . . . I developed a severe red wine allergy 6 years ago and needed to find another gourmet passion. Discovering the world of green tea and roasted/floral oolongs has been a luscious and highly rewarding experience (thankfully I have since recovered from my red wine allergy, so now have two competing liquid passions…the joy!).

My dream tea party would include . . . Oscar Wilde, Orla Kiely, Patti Digh, Danielle LaPorte, Pia Jane Bijkerk, Jared Flood, Donna Farhi, Dyana Valentine, Christina Baldwin, Tove Jansson, Randi Pearce, Lisa Cherney, Lisa Sasevich and Flora Bowley. Ilse Crawford would design and decorate the space, Bono would serenade us with his spine-tingling voice and Dovetail Bakery (Portland) would provide the buns (no pun intended!).

When I sip from my teacup, I . . . inhale deeply and loose myself in the moment (who needs Eckhart Tolle…xx). 

LAVENDER, GOAT CHEESE, AGAVE PANINI WITH VANILLA SALT & CHOCOLATE ROOIBOS TEA


Tea sandwiches aren't just for girly girls. They are for hungry husbands, sweety pies, friends dropping in to help with big projects, little buddies and indulgent parents. When petite, perfect sandwiches are grilled slightly, eyes light up. They even go white at the edges when you mention this particular sandwich involves creamy goat cheese, fresh lavender buds, raw agave syrup and vanilla flake salt. This is a next level tea sandwich.

Portland's clouds have given way to the most other worldly blues and evening pinks. It's the perfect time of year to use a panini machine, avoiding traditional cooking and not having to turn on the stove. And what to serve with such a delight? Chocolate Rooibos from Gypsy Tea is warming with layers of spice: carob, ginger, red tea as a backdrop for all the other ingredients. It's a fabulous, mellow, non-caffeinated chocolate fix that is enhanced by a splash of whole milk and a dram of sugar. This earthy beverage compliments the cacophony of tastes found in the panini: sweet, creamy,ripe, salty and floral. Have you ever tried Rooibos tea? What do you think of it?




Lavender, Goat Cheese, Agave Panini with Vanilla Salt
makes 1 sandwich

2 slices buttermilk bread
goat cheese (I used about 2 heaping tablespoons)
1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon minced fresh lavender flowers
flake vanilla salt (I buy mine at the Meadow. You can order some online from this unbelievable shop)
1 tablespoon agave syrup (or honey would be lovely)
butter for greasing the pan/panini machine

Preheat a panini machine to about 375-400 degrees (I have this panini maker left over from this shoot)or just a nob of butter in a pan on low heat. Butter both sides of the bread. Spread as much or as little goat cheese as you like on one side of the bread, sprinkle the lavender and vanilla salt all over the cheesed half of the sandwich. Add the agave (you may have to evenly spread it with your fingers) to the top of the cheesed side.

Put the other piece of bread on and grill for 3 or 4 minutes on each side if toasting on the stove. If using the panini maker, grill for 3-4 minutes then rotate 45 degrees for another 3 minutes so you get those cute cross-hatch grill marks.

Chocolate Rooibos Tea
I found mine at Whole Foods. I'm pretty sure Zhena's Gypsy Teas are available all over, but if you can't find it locally, try their site.

A Cuppa With Anne Ditmeyer


Anne Ditmeyer is a bit undefinable, and I mean that in the best possible way. She juggles so many different projects -- all with her trademark style, wit, humor and grace. I first met Anne through her blog, Pret A Voyager, where she invites others to share their travel stories, tips and triumphs. When I was living in India, I was in another universe, and I was honored to be invited to share some of my experiences through her corner of the interwebs. A lot has changed since we first had tea over 3 years ago (we recently reunited in her home city of Paris, where I photographed her--see above!--at the incredible shop/cafe, Merci), and we've been able to involve each other in personal and professional projects along the way.

Among many other things, Anne's got her own graphic design work boomin, she's traveling like crazy and speaking at blogging conferences, blogging for Design Sponge, writing for magazines such as Anthology and Dwell, and in the midst of it all -- trying to find a new apartment in Paris, her adopted homeland. She certainly deserves a little tea time break!

What is your favorite type of tea and how do you take it? Chai tea. It's best in summer with milk and a bit of sugar and over ice. However, most of the time I find myself drinking the warm version.

How does tea punctuate your day? Typically two cups of Cylean black with milk and sugar in the morning with my oatmeal. (I limit myself to one if I know I'm going to be dealing with French bureaucracy - lots of waiting and bathrooms are much harder to come by!). In the afternoon I'm more likely to have a green tea or a camomile in the evening.

My tea accompaniment of choice is: Oatmeal! I actually tend not to snack when I drink tea if I have one in the afternoon.

The internet or NOVA radio . . . . is on when I'm having tea.

I first started drinking tea when . . . I had a day job. I needed an excuse to get away from my desk, and get going in the morning. When I moved to Europe it really became part of my morning routine. I always would have my tea "straight," but when I went to India I discovered the comforts of a bit of milk and sugar in the morning.

My dream tea party would include . . . .
mis-matched tea cups and saucers. My dad used to pick up one for my grandparents when he traveled to new places. I love eclectic and different styles and how each piece can hold a different memory.

When I sip from my tea cup, I . . . feel warm and cosy inside. I am at ease from the stress of the world around me.