I had the luxury of attending a garden wedding this past weekend in Mexico City (among many other dreamlike events arranged by my dear friends and hosts over the course of four days there.) Not only was the ceremony held in a mystical private garden complete with bamboo trees and a stairway to the beyond, but all of the guests were asked to sit in a circle and share a story, poem, song, joke, anything to honor and celebrate the bride and groom. One of my favorites was the reading of an excerpt from Mexican poet and Nobel Laureate Octavio Paz: “Listen to me as one listens to the rain…asleep, with all five senses awake.”
The next morning, I sat outside a favorite juice shop near the magical Red Tree House in Condesa where we were staying and watched the changing sunlight at 8 o’clock as cars went round and round the traffic circle. I stayed for about an hour and did little else but smell the coffee my neighbors were drinking and let their conversation in French wash over me (rare are the moments when I feel such a profound sense of focus and peace. ) It reminded me of an experience I had at the marvelous T-Shop the night before leaving New York, run by the elegant and deeply present Theresa Wong. I stopped in while she was having a tasting with an old friend and was able to spend more than two hours drinking steeping after steeping of a high mountain black tea and roasted oolong. Theresa herself says that she opened the spot to help New Yorkers slow down and that anyone will quickly realize upon entering that this little hideaway on Soho’s Elizabeth Street is not the place to grab a to-go cup.
TShop NYC’s High Mountain Black Tea: I cannot recommend this shop more highly to tea lovers or anyone who could use some slowing down and quietness in their life. Make it a point to come if you live in New York or are visiting. If not, you can also buy teas online via the website. I was able to taste an earthy, but bright and warming high mountain black tea on one of this winter’s coldest nights in New York, with temperatures plunging to near-zero. Theresa has an almost monk-like quality of stating her thoughts and memories as she drinks with you, like “when I visited the place where this tea is grown, I already knew it from the smell and feeling of the tea.” A real treasure–worth visiting and revisiting.
Tiny Pinecone’s Drum Mountain White Cloud: I’ve also been fortunate to stop in this charming West Village pop-up where you can listen to the low hum of Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra while sipping a well-brewed monkey-picked oolong with delicacies like matcha chiffon cake from French-trained pastry chef Lisa Chan. I had a most lovely and delicate high mountain oolong that resembled a milky oolong and was nicely complemented by sesame wafers. Do pop in before they close on February 21 and see if you can get your hands on some loose leaf Drum Mountain White Cloud–a meditative and ethereal white that tastes like a cross between a White Peony and green Dragonwell with floral and grassy notes. Read more, too, about my passion for high mountain oolongs in the next issue of Scents & Sensibilitea at http://www.sensibilitea.co
Teatulia’s oolong with notes of lemon, sake and pie crust: I don’t often use tea bags but fell in love with this unusually bright oolong on the plane ride to Mexico and during my stay there (I haven’t reached the point yet where I bring tea paraphernalia on flights.) This award-winning tea is true to its description (though I get less pie crust than lemon and sake.) Like all of Teatulia’s organic teas, it comes from a sustainable single-estate garden in Bangladesh which helps promote social programs in the country and arrives in environmentally friendly packaging. Winning on every level–my ideal for karmic luxury.
Atelier Cologne’s Sud Magnolia with bitter orange, magnolia and cedarwood. I scored this festive blend the night I visited TShop (it’s right next door and available only at Atelier shops and via Sephora.) I love how fun and floral it is while still being grounded by the darker, complex bitter orange and cedarwood. I can attest that the drydown is “reminiscent of antebellum elegance and nights of warm abandon” (also brought this one down Mexico way) and love how Atelier uses natural essential oils and raw materials. Bitter orange is also a marvelous winter scent for those of us braving colder climes!
Raaka’s Pine Needle Tea Chocolate: One of my favorite winter chocolates with a subtle kick (which came in my January subscription.) So far, it doesn’t seem to be sold individually, but look out for it and consider signing up for Raaka’s monthly shipment for other delightful surprises to come.