Tea Tasting

What is it about tea parties? How do little girls and even little boys know about them? Right? How many of you have sat through a tea party with a collection of dolls and such fine edibles as leaves and sand and rocks pretending all the while that you are at the finest of establishments?

Since my early days of plastic teapots and muddy tea, I’ve taken tea at the Savoy London and at Brown’s Hotel. I graced Betty’s Tea Room once or twice and thought for a while that Darjeeling was my best friend. In short, I love a good tea party.

I can’t claim to organize anything nearly as posh as these establishments. But what fun to taste tea with a group of friends and a wide variety of tea!

Edibles:

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Scone bites
I used the Women’s Bean Project Denver Tea Room Cream Scone Mix from Trade As One to make tiny bite-sized scones, which I placed in a little plastic dish and topped with Strawberry Jam from The Cherry Hut. A dollop of whipped cream on top makes a delightful and light twist on the tea room tradition.

IMG_7145Berries in a tiny cup with a pinch of lemon zest and a taste of mascarpone are super refreshing and a great way to cleanse the palate.

IMG_7149 IMG_7146Melba toast with a spoonful of brie and apricot jam looks like little eggs but packs in the flavor.

I like to taste the gamut of teas when I do a tasting so we all get a sense for the nuances between greens, whites, oolongs, and blacks.

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My recommendations are:
Pai Mu Tan (white), Jade Cloud (green), Formossa Oolong, and Lover’s Leap (black). To round it all out and if there is time, I end with the tea that isn’t tea – our Compassion Spice rooibos. It finishes so well as it is comforting and calming.

With fall here and the holidays creeping up, now is a great time to break out the fancy china and plan a tea tasting with your friends!

The Least of These

Have you ever been exhausted and ramped at the same time? I find myself in this dichotomy this morning! What a weekend… my daughter’s 10th birthday complete with a tea party birthday party with friends and a day of fun with family and horses and Japanese chefs throwing eggs into their pockets and hats… the missions conference at our church which meant making 6 batches of baba ghanoush and 18 gallons of iced tea and speaking in front of lots of people. (Exhausting!) But WHAT A WEEKEND! The chances and opportunities! The big ways God showed up and the little reminders that he actually never leaves! The tugging on my heartstrings… my baby girl growing up and hitting double digits when her birth and the events and people surrounding it are so vivid and fresh in my memory… the different ministries represented at the conference which highlighted ways to help the homeless, the children, the troubled, the lost. WOW.

Forgive me for my jumbled thoughts. I feel a little giddy right now! There are a couple of things that I want to highlight and that I think I can speak about coherently.

First, Compassion Tea Company donated the iced tea to the missions conference and we were able to sell our tea at the conference. We were blessed beyond measure by the response and reception we received. It was the kind of event that leaves us at Compassion Tea euphoric because it means that we will be able to support our parent organization, CompassioNow, even more. An event like this is a huge splash in the pond of aiding Africa with wide concentric circles radiating out. It looks like this:
Circle one: Compassion Tea Company — You recall, of course, that 100% of our after-tax profits are given to CompassioNow. None of our directors takes a salary in order to increase our profit margins. Our members’ support allows us to steadily add to the funding CompassioNow receives.

Circle two: CompassioNow — In turn, CompassioNow has seen a growth in donations, which has allowed several new and/or increased ways to save lives in Africa. In April, the board voted to begin supporting the medical clinic at Village of Hope, Uganda, an orphanage for over 200 children abandoned, abducted, enslaved, orphaned, and abused by the 20+ year war waged by Joseph Kony on the Ugandan people. Being able to save more lives is what we are all about!

Circle three: The clinics CompassioNow supports – Also in April, CompassioNow received a report from the medical clinic at 1000 Hills outside Durban, South Africa. When CompassioNow first began supporting Dawn Leppan and her work at 1000 Hills, the medical clinic was a dream and Dawn was serving food to the community in the basement of an abandoned church. According to this report, the medical clinic now treats an average of 180 patients per day and provides roughly 4000 treatments per month. The clinic serves the gogos (grandmothers) who attend twice a week for hypertension and diabetes monitoring, and for treatment for other illnesses. A well-baby clinic held weekly allows babies to be weighed, assessed, and treated if necessary. The HIV/AIDS support group works with 500 members who are weighed, monitored, and educated about living with their disease. The medical clinic at 1000 Hills runs an ambulance service for emergencies and for community members who need urgent transportation to the nearest hospital. And the clinic has also organized a group of volunteers, the Community Health Care Workers, who visit the families, the elderly, and the bedridden who can’t make it to the clinic. They monitor for rape, abuse, and nutritional needs, as well as providing some medical care.

Circle four: the larger community — The report states that “our figures have increased quite a lot since last year… because the community really is not getting the help they need from the local government clinic, so they are coming to us.” To use CompassioNow founder Wendy Bjurstrom’s words, we are “blown away” by the growth of this clinic and its ability to provide quality healthcare to a growing number of people. As CompassioNow is able to fund more staff and supply more pharmaceuticals and medical supplies to our clinics, more people are reached, treated, and saved, which in turn provides a community with a healthier populace better able to care for themselves and each other. And the circles rippling in the pond of providing aid to Africa continue onward and outward.

The second thing that came out of the missions conference that I want to share is the message. Any good missions conference will remind its attendees of their mission… to go out into the world — to the lost, the hurting, the downtrodden and oppressed – and to bring God’s light into the darkest corners. From heart-pumping renditions of sending songs to the examples of others who have gone forth to “bring the light to the nations” this conference didn’t disappoint! And they showed this video. It really struck me. You see, I live a very blessed life (and I imagine that if you stop and think about it, you do too!). I want for little, lack even less, and have around me beauty and freedom and love that leaves me breathless when I take the time to contemplate it. What do I do with those blessings? God gave me these blessings; He gifted me with talents and skills. What do I do with those blessings, talents, skills? What do I do with my bounty, the beauty around me, the love and freedom in my life? It reminded me of a Facebook conversation I recently had with a friend. This friend was distressed over the factory collapse in Bangladesh and was wondering if she should stop supporting clothing stores that provide cheap clothes by sourcing clothing from companies that treat workers inhumanely. How should this friend use her blessings? With her freedom to speak, in this case through her wallet, what and how could she bless someone else? The answers aren’t always easy because the world complicates and confuses, hides and disguises, befuddles and discourages us from serving others.

I go to 1 John chapter 4 from the Bible to help me. John wrote, “19We love because he first loved us.” God’s amazing love for us, and our recognition of that, fills us with the desire to share that love. John also said, “7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

It’s the “which came first, the chicken or the egg” kind of thing. Love isn’t that we take the first step and simply love God. We don’t love God and then He blesses us because of our actions. Love is God sending Jesus to love and heal and preach and redeem the world. In response, we love Him and one another… lost or found, worldly or saved. And in loving one another, we help one another.

There’s a song getting a lot of play on the radio lately. Click here to listen. I love the line, “If not us, who will be like Jesus to the least of these?” Who will be the hands and feet of Jesus if not us?

Let me try to wrap up my thoughts here into a neater package. We at Compassion Tea Company have been blessed, saved, and made free by God and His amazing, startling, overflowing love. His love staggers us. He showed it again so visibly this past weekend. This is the kind of love that can’t just be silently meditated on, held close and secret. No. It is the kind that demands a response. And “when we love the least of these,” we are responding. We are sending God’s love in a bandage, an aspirin tablet, a plaster cast, a round of antibiotics, a pair of eyeglasses, a nebulizer, in a vitamin. When we add a nurse or increase a doctor’s hours through increased funding to a clinic, we are adding and increasing God’s love poured out for “the least served.”

So, thank you family, friends, supporters, members, fans, and followers. Thank you for helping us “love the least of these.” And imagine how many more we can love! Share tea! Save Lives!

Spicing It Up

It’s summer and it has been hot. Tempers have been running quick and red. Energy has been flagging. Yet, the rigors of summer… the camps, the play dates, the swimming and tennis and horseback riding… must go on. One day at a time, we march through summer, prey to the heat, at the whim of the schedule and our own diminished interests. The garden needs tending, the chicks must be checked multiple times a day, towels need washing, and what the heck, let’s camp out in the backyard tonight. Pop the tent.

Batter speckled with tea… interesting!

And we’re only 1 ½ weeks into it.

Bearing all this in mind, I couldn’t face making a “normal” dinner tonight. Often, when at my wits’ end, I opt for “breakfast for dinner”… a delightful break from the usual rigors of cooking, a quick way to get food on the table, and a sure way to get the kids to eat their dinner. Tonight, just to change things up, I decided to spice it up, too! The results have been nothing short of miraculous. As I type, Clara is reading and singing to Joseph; they are snuggled up on Joseph’s bed together completely forgetting the continual fighting of the other 12 hours of the day. I am chalking it up to chai tea pancakes and I’m loving it!

Chai Tea Pancakes
(adapted from Tracy Stern’s book Tea Party)
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder (I used 1 ½ tbsp.)
½ tsp. salt
2 cups buttermilk (I used 1 ¾ cups vanilla flavored coconut milk)
3 large eggs, separated
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract (I used 1 tsp. vanilla and ½ tsp. almond extract)
2 tbsp. ground chai tea (I used Compassion Tea Cochin Masala Chai)

Pancakes topped with whipped cream, maple syrup, and granola… looking good!

Whisk together the flour, 2 tbsp. sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add the milk, egg yolks, vanilla, and almond (if you use it) and whisk until smooth and thick.

Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the remaining 1 tbsp. sugar to the egg whites and beat until stiff. Fold into the batter and fold in the ground tea. Cook on a griddle until golden brown in each side. Serve with maple syrup, yogurt or whipped cream, and granola. Makes about 1 dozen pancakes.

Ready for consumption. Yummy happiness awaits!

These pancakes are thick and fluffy, moist and spicy, sweet and pleasantly unusual. They would make a great brunch dish if entertaining. Add some fresh fruit and candied almonds, a cup of chai tea softened with milk and honey, and viola! Delicious!

Fresh from the pool, the kiddos dig in. Joseph cleaned his plate in record time.

Clara’s eyebrows go up in surprised delight as she tries her pancakes.