Tea being made

Well, these are cherry blossoms and not peach, but they must have heard the sounds too... Peeping from our window, April 2013.

We have cherry blossoms, not peach, but they must have heard the tea-making too…
They were peeping through our window in April 2013, and they’re here again now.

“The sounds of the tea being made invite the peach blossoms to peep in through the window.”Sasaki Sanmi, Sadô Saijiki

If you are reading this anytime between 6:30 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, chances are I have the kettle on, or just now made tea, or will be making tea in a few minutes. Assuming Sanmi is right about the blossoms, I’ve got an invitation going out pretty much all day every day. Blossoms of all kinds are welcome…and so are you!

Are you joining me before noon? You might like to share some of my favorite black teas for the caffeine energy boost.  Today I have something very special to offer. Our friend from Nepal has given me a box of delicious Tokla Tea, grown and produced in his home country, and I’ve been enjoying its rich flavor almost every day lately. I highly recommend it, but I also have other choices including several varieties of Earl Grey and English Breakfast tea. And of course, I have plenty of the spicy chai flavors that are among my favorites.

For those of you popping in during the early afternoon, let’s indulge in an extra healthy cup of green tea. After years of mixing it with black tea, I finally have cultivated a taste for green tea on its own, though I still usually mix it with black. Shall we try some of the jasmine green variety? Or a fruit flavor such as raspberry or peach? Or we can have unflavored green tea in one of my favorite brands, Ahmad, which never fails to produce a tasty cuppa.

Assuming you drop by in the evening, we have lots of caffeine-free options. In addition to your choice of fruit or herbal flavors, we can try some Rooibos; it’s available in ever-increasing varieties, all delicious. One of my recent favorites is the lemon hibiscus green rooibos that Jeff recently gave me. I had never even heard of green rooibos, but one great thing about being a tea lover is that there are continual new discoveries. A disclaimer: these are unsolicited recommendations for which I get no remuneration. I mention the specifics just to prove I’m not making all these fabulous flavors up.

How fun to have so many choices! And I haven’t even scratched the surface. What will you be having? If you can’t make it in person, I’ll gladly send you a tea bag or two of your choice (except for the green rooibos, which is running low). We’ll cover the dessert teas (such as chocolate raspberry or marshmallow macaron) some other time.  The blossoms showed up early this year so we’re all set…

I took this Friday evening, March 25, 2016-- the view out our bedroom window on peak bloom day.

Friday evening, March 25, 2016– from our bedroom window on peak bloom day.



  1. Ann

    So glad that I am in time to have tea with you.! Have you ever tried American Classic tea, grown in Charleston, SC? Your cherry blossom tree looks beautiful. All is in bloom here too. I’m noticing that there are fewer dogwoods, I wonder why.

    • Ann, not too long ago I saw a tin of tea from Charleston SC and that was the first I knew about tea being grown there, though I had others mention it to me after that. Of course I bought myself that little tin, but have not yet opened it (it’s loose leaf) but I look forward to enjoying it. I love the idea of tea being grown in SC, one of the original colonies that suffered under the tea tax of 1773!

      Our dogwoods are just beginning to bud. In past years they have not bloomed as fabulously as they used to. We believe it may be due to the increased shade cast by the growing taller trees around them. We recently planted a pink dogwood and it has some new leaves on it already. Drew says that the dogwoods in Atlanta are blooming now, so maybe ours will be coming along soon.

  2. Good morning, Julia! Thank you so much for today’s post – now I will remember to pack a couple of teabags and my favorite mug to bring to work today. Seeing my familiar mug and sipping my favorite teas are sure to calm my nerves (first day on a new gig)!
    Plus, I’ll be thinking happy thoughts of you and your delightful blossoms!
    Have a beautiful day!

    • Whoa, a new gig starting today…I’ll be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers, hoping all goes well! Thanks for stopping by this morning. 😀

  3. wisconsinwellness

    What a lovely post! It reminds me of a call from Japan we recently had with our son, David. David, who lives in Tokyo, told us that they have just received as a gift from a family member a stroller for their five-week old son (first child) and took him for his first walk in the stroller. Our son said the weather was warming up and the blossoms were out and it was a lovely evening. That night, the baby slept all through the night for the first time. Last year, David sent us some tea that opens up like a flower in the water (it’s made in a glass so you can see the flower). Perhaps a little off-point but I just had to respond.

    • Nancy, not off-point at all! I have seen those lovely “blooming” teas in the glass pots, and they are exquisite. I think I would almost be reluctant to drink the tea — I’d want to use it as a decorative object. I do have some smaller bits of jasmine tea that open up in the hot water, which also are fun and quite fragrant. I think all of us (infants included) reap benefits from being outside, assuming there are no allergic complications to deal with. I think the warming air and the sight of so many greens, blues and other natural colors has a calming effect on our brains that scientists perhaps can’t fully quantify or understand. I’ve never been to Japan but I hope to go someday. I would imagine their blossoms are amazing. I hope you will get to visit your son there, if you have not already been. Especially if there are grandchildren involved. 😀 Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! It is always wonderful to hear from readers.

      • wisconsinwellness

        Julia, I haven’t been able to go to Japan yet but I do hope to go someday!

        • I so hope you will be able to go! I think it’s always more fun visiting someone who lives in a place. You really get a different view of the place than you would from a guided group tour. Locals (even if they are only recently arrived) tend to know so much about where the best-kept secrets are!

  4. Carolyn

    Putting on my clothes and will be ther very soon for a cup of tea. Wish I could! I have been enjoying my coffee but am ready for some good tea. The tea that Jeff gave you sound great. I love to have decaf in the evenings. The weather is good now to be on the pouch, except for the yellow stuff that is on everything. Terry is good about blowing it clear before we go out. We are okay right now and hope you all are well. Take care and keep on writing, enjoy read your blogs. Love and hugs to all.

    • Hi Carolyn, I’m sipping my tea right now (English Breakfast mixed with Sencha green) and imagining us having a little tea time together. That yellow pollen can be miserable. Ours has not descended yet. I can never seem to remember when to expect it; it always catches me off guard. I think “okay” would be a good way to describe how we are doing right now. It has been an exceptionally rough week for Jeff, though. I sense we are moving into a different phase of life, not just with his retirement, but with his treatments. Now that he doesn’t have work to distract him, I think he is growing impatient with the side effects, especially since his CEA keeps climbing (80’s now). And I can tell that the cumulative damage from the toxicity is definitely increasing. But, we aren’t giving up. In fact, he’s outside right now installing a couple of new light fixtures. 😀 Love and hugs to y’all too!

  5. That view is to die for!!!! Our plum tree blossoms (pink) are all gone with the rains. My son had less than an hour of sun to capture them this year. They were early and sun just didn’t quite get here. As for tea, I have tea when my daughter comes. She can’t drink coffee, (Fibromyalgia) and is a connoisseur of fine teas. We gave quite a few here and she sweetens those that need it with local honey. I like mine chocolate or vanilla flavored. But I’ll drink anything. Peppermint when I’m lethargic or and orange spice. We have a whole shelf of tea. Not just any old tea will do either. No boxes from the grocery store.. It must be a quality tea. Me, I’m still an early morning coffee drinker, usually hazelnut flavored. But my son just brought back a nice coconut coffee from Kauai that is mild enough we don’t need to mix it with decaf. I’ll be thinking of you as I sit with my coffee. 🙂

    • Thanks, Marlene, that view comes to us only briefly once a year, but it’s enough to make us reluctant to want to let go of our Alexandria town home. Soon we’ll be dealing with the mess of “pink snow” and scraping the dried petals off our windows, but still, it’s worth it..

      I’m thinking of you too as I sit with my tea. My tastes in tea, as in food, aren’t very discriminating; I love it all, including the grocery store boxes. I remember having what tasted like some of the best tea I’d ever had, at a B&B in Ieper, Belgium. I asked the hostess what kind it was…she smiled and produced a LIPTON tea bag, just like we have here in the USA. Some people just know how to brew it…

      I do occasionally treat myself to coffee, though I almost always “spike” it with cocoa and lots of milk. But I’m gradually learning to drink it stronger, especially when I need a jolt of caffeine. Giant hugs and a happy Monday to you!

  6. MaryAnn

    Gorgeous blossoms glorifying our Creator! I am not an eclectic tea lover such as yourself, but I DO savor the conviviality & conversation associated with “let’s have a cup of tea!”
    My favorite most often is Good Earth “Sweet & Spicy” herbal & black tea. I have about 15 or so lovely jars containing a variety of teas. They are enjoyable to have on display at small group, ladies meetings, quilting days, etc. when people gather here & choose just the right tea. My sister started my collection of nice jars in the late 70’s & I have added a few over the years.
    I’ll have a “cup” thinking of you & the love you share!!!

    • Mary Ann, I LOVE the Good Earth teas! They were probably among the first teas I ever drank regularly. I first discovered them during our years on the Central Coast of CA (1990-93) and have kept them on hand ever since. I liked reading about your pretty tea jars. Maybe sometime you can snap a pic of them with your phone and email it to me. I’m sipping a late-night cup and thinking of you! Love & hugs!! ❤

      • MaryAnn

        I will snap a photo…So glad you enjoy the Good Earth teas! My grandson, Aaron: age 22 on April 19, 2016 was here for an interview in marketing. He finished UCSB early! We were talking about games. I told him about our Outburst fun time when I PICKED Matt for my team. I told Aaron that Matt has the facts in his head & he is such a joy to me! I said NO TIMER! Aaron liked that idea, he said, “Leveling the playing field!” Made me feel so happy to be bragging about my Matthew to Aaron (another person about whom I brag)!

        • WOW, does that make me feel old, that Aaron is now a UCSB graduate! What a beautiful place to go to school. Some of the first researchers who ever helped me understand Matt were at UCSB. Matt had a Montessori teacher who studied under the Koegels. Matt learned to read several years above grade level while he was in that Montessori preschool. That was the beginning of him picking up all those trivia skills 🙂 . Reminds me of how his high school history teacher (in a mainstream class) said all the kids would fight over who got to have Matt on their team for trivia contests on Fridays. Thanks for the way you have always been among those who look at Matt and see all the good things. 🙂 I will always LOVE you for it…and for so many other wonderful things that make you who you are!

  7. Sheila

    Good Easter Monday, my southern friend. Those photos out your window are so beautiful. What a view to enjoy, even short lived! Tea making must be ongoing at your home. I love the fruit flavors most, especially the peach. You have sent me such a variety of wonderful teas in recent years. I’m glad “sweet tea drinking weather” is almost here. Verandah required! This was a beautiful post to start my week. I’m so happy to read that Jeff is outside with a project…. Honey-do list? Hugs crossing the miles! Sheila 💛

    • Hi Sheila! Yes, that view is so wonderful. It’s with us for just a few days in its full glory, and a few days of less splendor before and after, with the first and last blooms. Then the messy “pink snow” and the memories. Whenever we finally decide to sell the town home, the cherry blossoms will be one of the things I miss most.

      We’re in agreement as usual about peach tea. It was the second fruit tea I can remember drinking (strawberry was first) and they are still my favorites among the fruit flavored black teas. I tend to prefer my peach tea in the iced form, though. I like strawberry flavor hot. So I have a favorite for each season.

      We have been getting a lot of Club Verandah weather- can’t wait to see April’s venue! Jeff has worked outside just a bit on several days, but tires very very quickly. This last round of chemo really knocked him for a loop. Wish it had the same effect on his CEA, but sadly, it did not. However, he’s really enjoying the springtime flowers– cherry blossoms in Alexandria and azaleas in York, and all sorts of other delights here and there. I hope that this season brings healing to his body AND soul. I know it’s doing wonders for my spirit. I spent the last two days weeding and putting out mulch. I planted two dozen small snapdragon plants, and we put in another gardenia and a hydrangea. Our neighbors and their four-legged family are out and about more often, sharing smiles and chat. So life is good, even when it’s uncertain. Sending warm and loving thoughts your way!

  8. Carol Hoyos

    Cheery blossoms are my favorite as they bring sweet memories of my childhood. We lived in VA and it was a nice day trip to see the cherry trees in bloom in DC. And what a sight! I remember them now as if yesterday. Enjoy yours while they last for soon they’ll be yet another sweet memory. xo

    • Thank you, Carol. You are lucky to have childhood memories of going to DC. I was 18 before I got there for the first time, and I had always dreamed of going. The cherry blossoms at peak are really something, aren’t they? The first time we were lucky enough to time it right and see them in all their glory, I finally understood what all the fuss was about. Thanks for being here, and for your comment!

  9. HarryS

    It brings me much happiness to visit with you.
    Fellow Georgian?

    • Harry, I’m happy that it brings you happiness! Yes, I am still and will always be a Georgia girl. If I haven’t lost that accent in more than 40 years of living elsewhere, I never will — thank goodness! 😀

      • HarryS

        Amen and Amen!

  10. Well you’ve covered two of my favorite tops here: drinking tea and flowering trees. This is also a reminder of the wonderful time we had a year ago this week, and how fortunate we were to have the blossoms open while we were there. We would have missed them this year. What a magical trip. I’ll never forget it. The memories are sustaining.

    • Alys, I’ve had you all on my mind so often during the past few days. In some ways it seems as if a million years have passed since you were here, and in other ways it still seems recent. I was SOOOO relieved that you got to see some blooms before you had to leave. This year, they would have been gone by the time you arrived (assuming you came at the same time) so it worked out great. BTW I totally love your Gravatar pic. Every time I see it I remember!

  11. Amy

    Hello, Last week I changed my settings to the gmail address but I did not get notification of this post. I saw it on FB. I have tried again to reset the address so we shall see what happens this time. Dagnabit I hate technology. Just this morning I was thinking that we have all these ways to stay in touch yet I seem to be in touch LESS with those I know and love than I ever was in college when I had to use paper and pen and a stamp.

    I enjoyed this post very much but I am having coffee this morning. I need something strong to battle all this tech stuff. HAHA

    I am sorry we did not get into down town while the blossoms were out. How lovely that you have a tree right in your yard. It is just as beautiful as DC. Talk with you soon. I love you. A

    • Amy, I hope you have figured out how to get the posts. The same thing happened to Daddy when he switched to Gmail. It took me about an hour on his computer to figure out what was happening, because I don’t know much about Gmail — but in his case, the blog emails were going directly into a folder Gmail automatically set up for social media emails. I think it was a folder called “social” or some such. You can check and see if something similar is happening to your mail. You might be missing way better stuff than my messages! OHHHH NOOOO as Mr. Bill used to say.

      Speaking of hating technology, you should have seen me making a fool of myself tonight at Kohls, trying to find my coupon on my smart phone that outsmarts me every time I try to use it.

      Yes, I’m sorry we didn’t get into town together this year — the blooms opened so much sooner than I was expecting. Jeff and I were there on peak bloom day Friday; Drew and Megan had bought us one of those Potomac River cruises and we timed it just perfectly. I’ll try to post some photos to Facebook. Jeff felt lousy (from chemo) but he insisted on going. I think he enjoyed it despite feeling so bad. It’s hard not to enjoy something so lovely. The weather mostly cooperated. It was raining while we were inside having lunch and stopped just in time to go out on the decks and watch the blooms sail by…maybe we can go next year, or better yet, get in a REALLY REALLY good walk! I hope we can get together this week (per your email) — I’ll let you know soon. Love & hugs.

      • Amy

        I figured out those folders and I have shut all but the personal so everything is coming through now. I think I forgot to confirm my change to WordPress because I didn’t read the confirmation email. I have reset it all now.

        I am glad you had such a lovely trip. What a fun way to see the blooms. I will have to check into a treat for Stephen and I next year. I look forward to hearing from you about the coming week.

        Sorry Jeff is feeling yucky. Give me love to the boys. A

        • Amy, Jeff and I scheduled the cruise based on predictions, and then made a last-minute switch when peak bloom came earlier than expected. So I recommend waiting until the last minute to try to schedule. That’s one advantage of living in the DC area. Sort of a compensation for the hideous traffic. 😀 Jeff seems to be doing a bit better, but is adamant that he is NOT going to take this particular chemo any more. He’s scheduled for several scans tomorrow, so we’ll see what they have to tell us. As always, we are hoping for good news but bracing for bad. We are thankful that the past 3.5 years have had some good to balance the seemingly endless bad news of the beginning months. We’ll keep you posted. Love to you from all of us!

  12. Julia,
    Thanks for the tea education. Until now, the only tea that I knew of was “Lipton.”

    • Alan, the world of tea is huge (and growing all the time) but there’s nothing wrong with drinking only the tried and true. As mentioned earlier in the comments, Lipton is good with me! I probably never met a tea I didn’t like, but I’ve always enjoyed Lipton. Having grown up drinking iced tea as pretty much the exclusive beverage served in our home, I’ve probably had gallons of it. We also drank a lot of Tetley, and I still get their British Blend tea sometimes. But if you are ever in the mood to experiment, you will have lots of options from which to choose! I’ll be happy to send you a few varied tea bags if you want to try some other flavors. Just send me your address to defeatdespair.com and let me know what you’d most like to try.

      • Thanks, Julia. I may take you up on that offer.

        • Good! One thing is for sure, there will not be a shortage of choices anytime soon. 😀

          • Julia,
            I tried to send you an email message to defeatdespair.com but got your blog. So found you on Facebook and left a friend request so as to send a private message with my address. Will take you up on the offer for some Earl Grey and English breakfast teas, when you return my friend request. The email I tried to send was rejected.

            • Alan, by now I have your address, and you have the tea, and I have a lot of stories to tell about everything that happened the day I mailed it to you. Needless to say, putting a few notes in the mail was the best thing about my day that day, but things are looking up. Hope you enjoy the tea!! And remember, I have LOTS of other flavors to try…

              • Thanks so much, Julia. And I did receive them with your note. Will be looking for your follow up note. And happy that things are looking up. You should be receiving the items I sent to you soon. Hope you enjoy them.

                • Alan, I’ll be watching my mailbox! 🙂 Let me know what other tea flavors you’d like to try. Do you prefer caffeine, or no caffeine? Fruit flavors or spice? etc.

  13. WOW! Look at those blossoms ! Spectacular and just plain cherrylicious. As you know, I’m by far a coffee hound. But I do love the smell of tea and sniffed almost every canister at ‘Davids Tea’ one day when I was trying to decide what to buy. I love tea parties though with all the dainties to munch on and china cups. Maybe it’s something I never got to do as a kid and I’m making up for it now. I think it’s fun to pretend to be a proper lady with nothing to do all day except enjoy the taking of tea time with a lovely group of friends. I’ve sent you a wee reminder of my own Cherry Blossom visit last year. It was to arrive before Easter but I fear it’s gone a stray. I probably should try and track it down, I mailed to Alexander, perhaps you’re not there right now. So, cheers my dear ! Here’s to glorious spring out your window (we had snow last night 😦 ) xoxox K

    • K, as you know by now, I did get that wondrous package just in time for Easter, and what a jubilant heart it gave me. The gorgeous cherry blossom tea cup is sitting in my china cabinet between the crystal goblets, and it’s totally beautiful. Believe it or not, since you wrote this comment (I’m TERRIBLY behind, for reasons that are obvious to many of you) we actually had a dusting of snow ourselves. No worries though, spring is here to stay, and today was beautiful– chilly winds, but brilliant sunshine!

      • Hooray for sunshine and family news and cherry blossoms and jubilant hearts. Snow can’t put a chill on that one bit. Happy Spring Day Julia ❤ xo K

        • So true! Happy spring to you to. We’re chilly here, but sunny. Hope you are too. Thanks for being here!

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