Tea Time – Pure Leaf Matcha & Ginger with Orange Blossom

Anyone who has had the pleasure of performing or witnessing a traditional Japanese tea ceremony knows how serene and meditative it can be. It’s a beautiful experience, one I think everyone who appreciates traditional Japan should have at least once in their lives.

However, sometimes you crave the fresh, soothing taste of a hot cup of matcha but just want a quick and easy drink. Thankfully, Pure Leaf tea has a solution! While their iced teas have been available for some time now, they’ve recently ventured into bagged and loose-leaf hot teas. I was selected to review two of their new hot teas; individual servings of matcha and a lovely ginger and orange blossom tisane, courtesy of ChickAdvisor.

First off, I knew I wanted to start with the matcha. It’s a single-origin tea from Japan, 100% pure tencha leaves cultivated specifically for matcha. The trees are protected from the sun as they grow, ensuring even exposure which results in a smooth, delicate tea. The nice thing about these pre-measured sachets is that all you need is hot water, a sachet, and a teaspoon! No fussing with pots, whisks, or braziers.

The tea has the distinctive fresh, grassy taste of the matcha we’re all familiar with. It is a smidge more subtle, less of the “soapiness” of tea from a tea ceremony, but that’s not a bad thing. If anything, it makes it more versatile for folks who might not necessarily be familiar with traditional matcha. Certainly, nothing will replace the experience of a proper tea ceremony, but these are a delicious and accessible alternative. They’re small and convenient enough to keep in your purse!

Next up, Ginger with Orange Blossom. This is much more of a typical herbal tea comprised of ginger, orange flowers, orange peel, lemongrass, and other all-natural ingredients. There are no tea leaves of any variety in this blend, which makes it great for a nighttime drink or a treat for anyone sensitive to caffeine. It comes in wonderful pyramid bags which allow for much more water flow and movement than old-fashioned flat bags. It’s the closest you can get to loose-leaf tea without losing the practicality of the bags.

This is a warm, comforting tea with the familiar heat of ginger at the forefront. It’s very well-balanced, somehow taking very strong flavours but keeping them delicate. I drank it plain, but a dollop of honey would be delicious in it. I also think it would make a fantastic iced tea in the summer!

I highly recommend both of these products, and I look forward to trying out more hot teas from Pure Leaf soon. Thank you to Pure Leaf and ChickAdvisor for giving me the opportunity to try these out.

 I received this item from the manufacturer for honest review purposes.If you have a topically appropriate craft, product, or service you would like me to review, please contact me. 

#Monokimono Challenge – Mustard

Anna of KimonoTEKA recently came up with the #monoKIMONO challenge; the last weekend of every month in 2018, challenge yourself to make a monochromatic outfit! I am always up for new kitsuke ideas, and I know I can handle one-a-month type challenges, so you know I’m going to go for it!

My first thought was red or pink, but as I was flipping through my collection for ideas, this odd mustard yellow colour jumped out at me. You might remember this kimono as my emergency backup piece for Belle that I ended up falling in love with. It’s not a piece I’ll ever be able to wear, even if I were to lose an unhealthy amount of weight it would still be too narrow for my broad back and too short for my giant self. Also, this particular colour looks lovely on a lot of folks, but utterly terrible on me. However, I’m always excited to find ways to coordinate it, and I realised I have a vintage obi that’s nearly the exact same colour. A few similarly ochre-toned accessories and voila, a beautiful, wearable, vintage monochrome outfit.

This whole outfit pulled together so smoothly and easily, I hope it’s a sign of things to come for both the challenge and the year as a whole. Are you participating in the #monoKIMONO challenge? If so, I’d love to see your coordinations!

Items used in this coordination

Kiltmono for Robbie Burns

Yesterday, January 25th, was Robbie Burns Day, a celebration of the life and work of Scottish poet Robert Burns. Traditionally, a Burns Supper is held, an evening filled with bagpipes, haggis, poetry, whisky, and laughter. A few weeks back, a family friend came over while this outfit was on the mannequin, and he jokingly asked if it was for Robbie Burns. It got me to thinking, how could I combine the two, and this “kiltmono” is what I came up with! I’d intended to do it yesterday but this flu season has been kicking my butt over and over again, and I could barely get out of bed. Thankfully today was better.

I hiked the kimono up quite high, to what would be roughly the length of a kilt. The white obi is to echo a crisp white dress shirt, and the black haori calls back to the formal black jacket typically worn with a dress kilt outfit. I chose the red accessories to tie together the red accents in the haori and in the tartan of the kimono. The sporran is my father’s, as is the sgian-dubh (dagger). Traditionally, the sgian-dubh is worn tucked into the sock with a formal kilt outfit, but it reminded me of the traditional kaiken dagger worn by Japanese brides, so I tucked it into the obi. The shoulder fur is reminiscent of both traditional fox fur kimono shawls and a pelt that would have been worn for warmth in the Scottish highlands.

Honestly, I’m kind of shocked at how well this whole experiment came together. As much as I love traditional kitsuke and “proper” kimono coordinations, I also really love demonstrating how modern and versatile these garments can really be. When we stop viewing kimono as rigid, regimented garments with strict prescriptive rules, and start remembering that they are first and foremost clothing and were once worn every single day, we’ll all be able to have a lot more fun with them while still remaining respectful.

Tropical Fire Ikebana

Tropical Fire Ikebana

I suspect you’re all probably quite tired of me complaining about winter, but I’m not done yet! Still cold and damp, still sick, and now they’re predicting half an inch of freezing rain overnight! I was very much in the mood for something reminiscent of the sweltering humidity of the tropics. The little flower counter at my local drugstore is not the place I’d expect to find birds of paradise or bright red waxy anthuriums, but lo and behold, they found me and called out to me.

The flowers are so bold and dramatic that I knew I wanted to do something big and sparse and sculptural. The beautiful blue vessel was a Christmas gift from my cousin and I love how it anchors everything, is reminiscent of water, and pulls out the hint of blue in the bird of paradise flower. I tried to arrange the anthurium to almost look like steps leading up to the stark angles of the bird of paradise, and attempted some fancy weaving of the palm leaves. It didn’t hold quite as well as I’d like, I clearly need more practice! The whole arrangement was perched dramatically onto this carved wooden stand that was my grandmother’s. I love the way it raises the whole piece up and elevates it to a work of art.

Spring can’t come soon enough! Aside from all my complaints about flu season and the cold and snow, I’m also eager to go back to working with seasonal flowers from my own garden and the great outdoors. There’s a forsythia bush in our yard that I never got the opportunity to work with last year, and I’ll be damned if I miss its blooms again this year!

A Promissory Note for Spring

I am utterly, completely fed up of winter! I am tired of the cold and the snow, and I am tired of this awful ear infection/sinus/flu situation I’ve been fighting off since the beginning of December. I really needed to remind myself that this will come to an end eventually, and spring is on its way.

This kimono always feels good for this time of year, since it’s got multi-seasonal flowers and the colour scheme is pretty subdued, but with the right accessories it can really pop. I got the obi from Lyuba of Strawberry Kimono and I suspect it’s going to be come a fast favourite. I love the bold pattern, and it’s really nice and soft, but textured enough to hold well against itself. I tend to dislike overly soft formal obi because they can also be slippery and don’t hold a nice shape, but the slightly rougher fabric of this and the fact that it feels more casual means it’s great for relaxed, natural-looking obi musubi.

Soft leaf-green accessories helped reinforce the spring vibe of the outfit, and a pink haneri helped to emphasise the pink bits of the outfit. Of course, since I got the obi from Lyuba I had to tie the obiage in a bow shape that always reminds me of her kitsuke.

After the winter-heavy efforts of the 12 Days of Kits-Mas, it felt good to do something more transitional and bright. It was tiring working through being sick to do this, but I’m glad I did!