Sunday, October 21, 2018

Tea Review - Mi Lan Xiang Honey Orchid Oolong Tea (PATH OF CHA)

As I have stated way too many times, I LOVE Oolong tea. I love the way it smells and tastes and no two Oolongs are alike. When I discovered Mi Lan Xiang Honey Orchid Oolong Tea from Path of Cha, I knew I had to order a bag. Never mind the fact that I have probably over 40 bags of tea in my pantry (grin). When I smelled the tea in the bag, I couldn't really get a clear scent except clean - not a problem for me at all, though. However, the real delight came when I prepared and drank my first cup.

After pouring my first cup, my nose went right to the tea  - the trademark Oolong "scent" mingled with the warm sensation of honey and a faint hint of orchid/flower garden. I sighed after smelling it. When I took my first sip, I actually looked at the cup and said, "Wow . . . .mmmm . . . . ." With every sip, I kept looking at the cup with delight. The taste was smooth, a bit grassy, velvety, not overpowering flower garden, and the warm aspect of honey. Each sip "showed" more and more of the mixture without being too much or bitter. This tea was a great choice to prepare and enjoy with the cool temperatures in Memphis today. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys Oolongs as much as I, or for someone who wants to try something new but doesn't want anything overpowering. A good tea also for breakfast or after lunch with just a small hint of added honey but no sugar.

Much thanks to Path of Cha!

Friday, October 19, 2018

A Tea Blend for Photographers . . . and Everyone Else

(Overton Park - Memphis, Tennessee - taken by me) 

I wear many hats - tea blender, author, and photographer. All three of these things feed into each other and have opened other doors I never knew existed. In being a creative spirit, I have met many others who are passionate about what they DO and ARE. For example - I have met and befriended many photographers so far  - each one presents the world in their own unique way. They love the camera and it shows through their work.

May I present to you the new blend from Viridian Tea Company - The Art of Photography!

This tea blend is a black tea base blended with elderberries, blueberries, lemon peel, and infused with vanilla beans. I let this blend sit for several weeks and OH BOY, does it smell like Heaven.

But enough of the tea - I want to instead brag on the people who partially inspired this blend - check out their social media when you can and show some love. These hardworking people are masters in the field of photography:

Mitchell Hartman - One of the coolest conversations I've ever had was with Mr. Hartman as I stood in a museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, waiting for the hailstorm to pass. His work continues to astound and inspire me and I know you will feel the same way - Embrace the Grain is his link.

Carlton Johnson - I really do wish we were blood brother and sister. This beyond cool dude is an artist to the fullest and his photos of Los Angeles show that off quite well. Plus, he's got the most adorable little baby boy that I know will grow up to be just like his father - dapper, smart, artistic, and just cool - @Atlantean72 is his Instagram link.

Retta Bodhaine - I first met Retta through mutual friends and soon, I asked her to take part of a Cyberpunk photo shoot that I conducted in NOLA back in 2016. I simply adore her and her work and she is quite the force to be reckoned with as she embraces the concept of a Renaissance person - Write Brain Artistry is her link.

Mike Lee - I'm going to admit that I envy his style. He shot one photo that I literally couldn't stop staring at for quite some time (a woman intensely reading a book in either a bookstore or a library). I met Mike through Mitchell and I am so glad for the friendship. He is one hell of a genius behind the camera as he shows off his version of New York - Mike Lee Photography is his link.

David Lee Black - I first met him online through Myspace (yes, I am old) many years ago because I stumbled upon his work and fell in love with it. I had to tell him how much I liked his work and the rest is history. His style is fluid, dreamlike at times, and just gorgeous. One of his photos is the cover for the Realms of Imagination anthology (Dark Oak Press) - David Lee Black Studios is his link.

And as for me - Kimberly Richardson

Okay, back to the tea - you can order bags of the tea through my Etsy store, or purchase directly through me at the Cooper Young Farmers Market.

Good night and . . . Point. Click. Shoot.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Loneliest Man - fiction

He was the loneliest man in the world and you'd never know it. For years, I always saw him as this amazing creature, this person who defied all expectations of what a person could do. I used to admire him and secretly desired him to admire me, yet that was never the case. One look, one glance, one simple fucking word of acknowledgement from him was all I wanted. When months went by with sporadic conversations that ended with "so, what are you wearing?", I knew that my time with him was over. He only saw me as a piece of flesh, ass rather, than me as a full human being. I left and never looked back. Years later, while in a bookstore, I ran into him. He looked older yet still had that THING that made me want him as before. When I asked him how he was, he nodded his head and claimed that he was busy, oh so busy, and that he had to run soon for another project. I told him that I understood then made as if to leave, when he grabbed my arm and said that he had some time to spare if I had it as well. We found a quiet corner table near a window to sit down and enjoy. As soon as I did, he asked me if I was still single. I replied yes and that my life suddenly took a dramatic turn that made me happier for being so free. When I asked him the same, he refused to meet my eyes and instead shrugged. Life is what you make of it, he replied in a voice that suddenly sounded so frail. When I asked him what he meant, he finally looked at me then grinned. I don't mean anything, he said with a grin and it took all of my willpower to not take his hand and kiss each finger like I used to do. Instead, I checked my watch then said that I had to go. He rose with me and asked for my number, to which I gave him because, sure, I guess so. He then hugged me and kissed my cheek as his scent of clean cotton permeated my senses. When he pulled away, I felt my heart beat a little too fast. We went our separate ways.

It finally dawned on me as I enjoyed my massive bowl of angel hair pasta with meatballs at lovely Gerald's place that he was truly lonely. My friend, the one I loved and hated at the same time. When he looked at me, the way he asked for my number. The way he sighed without ever moving his lips. He was lonely. Such a being within the artistic community in our city with many friends always surrounding him. Yet, I finally knew better. Should I wrap my arms around him, pull him in close, and whisper, "You can let go now. I know your secret." Would he cry, or perhaps curse at me for knowing?

He actually called me a week later. Wanted to meet up for coffee or in my case, tea. I agreed then spent an hour figuring out my outfit with finally settling on one of my dark librarian looks. When we met up in the cafe down the street, he still looked older than before. We sipped on our drinks and made for the bullshit polite conversation that people have to go through in order to get to what's really bothering them. When he did, I was stunned. He told, no, rather confessed, that for years he'd been in love with me yet never knew how to tell me. How could I tell you something that I thought you would have rejected, he asked with a laugh at the end. I was stunned; I said nothing yet drank my tea to hide my shaking hands. I loved you regardless of our age differences, regardless of our race differences. I loved you then and . . . he glanced away. Damn that habit of his, I thought. I . . .love you now, he said as he took my hand in his. Can you ever love a broken painter? His hand felt so rough yet so real as he stroked my hand. I thought you were lonely, I whispered, to which he grinned. Of course I was and still am, he replied. Even if you say yes and I want you to, I can't ever get rid of that. I glanced out of the window and noticed how people slowed down as the world went on. I feel like I'm in a Wes Anderson film, I said. But in this reality, he replied as he leaned forward to kiss my hand, my loneliness loves you.

I said yes.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

New Tea Blend and Photo Shoot - Shinrin-yoku Herbal Tisane

(model - author Hilaire Barch/HC Playa)

I was first introduced to Shinrin-yoku through Emily Guenther, owner of The Broom Closet in Memphis. The term means either "taking in the forest atmosphere" or "forest bathing". What that means is - taking a walk in a forest or nature area and enjoying the surroundings. To slow down your breathing and be aware - a kind of meditation. From all of my time walking through forests and Nature trails, I then began to wonder about a tea blend for that specific concept.

May I present to you - Shinrin-yoku Herbal Tisane!

Herbal tisanes contain no caffeine; the blend does consist of chamomile and passion flower. Don't drink this blend then expect to have a productive day. Shinrin-yoku is meant to relax you and calm your senses. I actually made the blend a while ago and let it sit. When I opened the lid to smell it, the lovely smell almost overpowered me in a good way.

The herbal tisane will be available through my Etsy store as well as The Broom Closet located in the South Main Arts District in Memphis. I will also have the blend available at my booth at upcoming events (Contraflow in November for example).

And now, here are other photos from the Shinrin-yoku photo shoot - much thanks to author Hilaire Barch/HC Playa for being such an amazing model:

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Jazz Lovers and Almond Croissants

It began, of course, with jazz. That music that can’t be defined no matter how many scholars try with regal effort. The first time I saw him, arrogant prick, was at a jazz concert. I stood in line to get my CD signed by the musicians while he sauntered through the crowd. When I saw him, I wanted to laugh. All black clothing worn with a careless effort, black sneakers that looked to be expensive, and a man bun to accentuate his striking face. He walked through the crowd with an air of “oh yes, I belong here”. When he turned in my direction, I suddenly found my CD to be very interesting. Apparently my glance wasn’t timed right as I felt a presence near me. I looked up as the scent of sandalwood greeted my nose.
“I studied under him, you know.” It was him, the man bun object of my interest and disgust. I looked into his face and felt at a loss for words. His blue eyes seemed to sparkle with some knowledge that only he possessed. “It was five years ago,” he said, “and I don’t regret that time at all.”
“I’m sure and why are you telling me this?” I asked, wanting to challenge him on anything that he had to say. He took my CD from my hands and flipped it over several times as he studied it.
“You stared at me,” he said as he handed the CD back to me, “so why not?” I felt myself growing warm under his gaze and my embarrassment. “Kyle Greenlaw,” he said as he held out his hand.
“Olympia Taylor,’ I replied as she shook hands, with me giving more of a grip than necessary. His eyes never left mine.
“So, Olympia, I’m assuming that you’re a jazz fan or just damned curious.” We released hands and I gripped my CD even tighter.
“My granddad raised me on jazz so I’m here by default. I would have taken him to the concert if he was still alive.” I wanted to one up him just to wipe that smirk off his face. “And you’re here to see your former teacher.” Kyle said nothing yet remained standing next to me as the jazz quartet finally arrived at the table to sign our CDs. They were sweating from giving their all during that groovy hour and 30 minute concert, yet mustered enough energy to give us one last look at them before they left in the middle of the night for their next destination. The energy between us concertgoers and the musicians was dazzling and soon, I forgot that Kyle stood next to me. We inched ever closer to them as I racked my brain trying to come up with something witty or sarcastic to say to him. I wanted to have the upper hand in what little exchange we had, yet the words left my brain like sand in an hourglass. He, on the other hand, looked as though he could have cared less to converse with me. He came, after all, to see his former teacher. I refused to wonder about his MO for standing with me and turned all my attention to the meeting the drummer of the quartet, the first seated at the table.
I handed my CD to him and said how much I loved their concert as he smiled widely, showing off the gap in his teeth, and signed my CD. I moved along the table as each musician had a chance to sign the CD along with words of thanks and phrases from the 60s that may have sounded outdated by anyone else but a jazz musician. Kyle continued to remain silent next to me. We finally reached the leader - 80 years old and still playing the saxophone like he was born with it in his mouth. He signed my CD then his eyes went wide as he saw Kyle.
“Greenlaw!” he said as he leaned across the table. Kyle leaned forward and grabbed the old man in a tight hug as they both burst into laughter.
“Killer show tonight,” Kyle said as he pulled back.
“You know I gotta give to my audience!” He signed my CD then looked at both of us as a slow grin crept across his face. “Lucky bastard,” he said. “I hear your trio is doing well, and you’ve got yourself quite woman with you!” Before I could say anything, Kyle quickly wrapped an arm around my waist then kissed my cheek. Here we were - one white uber hipster guy grinning like crazy and one black woman completely and utterly lost at the current situation.
“I’m a lucky man,” Kyle said with a big grin that almost made me want to laugh. “I can’t complain when I’ve got her with me.”
“I can tell. Say, coming to Boston next month? I’ve got your backstage passes.”
“Wouldn’t miss it.” The old man nodded his head like a wise sage then we were out of the line and walking toward the door. When we walked outside, the cold crisp air hit my senses with a punch. I took a deep breath then exhaled with head toward the night sky. I wondered which star was mine. The rest of the crowd started to come out of the performance center. Their conversations surrounded us yet I couldn’t hear them. This guy . . . I thought. And thought some more.
“Why didn’t you tell him that I’m not with you?” I said as I continued to watch my breath float toward the black heaven. The noise surrounding us suddenly quieted down.
“Why didn’t you?”
I looked at him and his smirk. “Too caught up in meeting the quartet.”
“Ah. Really.” He crossed his arms.
“Let down your hair,” I replied as I crossed my arms as well.
“Rapunzel you ain’t, but let down your hair anyway.” Kyle reached up to tug on his man bun then shook his hair loose. Long dark brown waves of hair fell around his face. He ran his fingers through it then gave it a final shake, causing me to laugh.
“Got anything planned on November 20th?” he asked while I willed my heart to stop beating so damn fast.
“Other than nothing, why?”
“How about we start with a date tomorrow, see if we like each other, then, and I know we will, have several more, then you come with me to Boston? Week long vacation.” I stood there in cold silence. Cold because I was freezing yet warming up to his idea. Stranger things have happened before and tonight . . . I looked up at the night sky again.
“One condition,” I said.
“Name it.”
I lowered my gaze to him again. “Cafe du Noir, please. They’ve got really good almond croissants.” Kyle stood in silence then leaned forward and kissed me.
“Your phone number,” he said as he pulled away. I quickly gave him a business card. He studied it then whistled low. “My my,” he said as he placed the card in his pocket, “I chose well tonight. Artist, no less.”
“Painter and photographer.”
“Details, Olympia.” He took my hand and kissed it.
“I thought you were some arrogant prick.”
He caressed my face. “I get that a lot but I still want tomorrow and beyond.” Somewhere deep inside of me, I wanted to believe him. What did I have to lose? More importantly, what did I have to gain? He asked me where I parked my car and if he could walk me to it. As we finally made our way away from the event, Kyle took my hand in his and suddenly, Boston seemed very possible in my future. So long as I could get an almond croissant. 

(thank you, Mr. Lloyd)

Monday, October 1, 2018

TEA REVIEW - Tanzania Oolong (Upton Tea Imports)

Let me say right off that this oolong tea stumped me. Although I am still working on obtaining my Tea Specialist certification, my senses are nowhere near as those of James Norwood Pratt or Jane Pettigrew. This Tanzania Oolong from Upton Tea Imports really got me  - I am still trying to "decipher" the complex layers as I am typing out this review. But, like the Indonesian Green Tea I previously enjoyed by them, this one is quite good!

The scent of the tea is a cross of earthy, sweet, and minty. I kept shaking the bag and sniffing, wondering if I truly did smell the mint - every time, I did. The mint scent is milder than gum. When I brewed it, I accidentally let it over steep (bad habit of mine), yet when I poured a cup, I was surprised. The brewed tea smells earthy with that hint of mint. My first cup was light earthy with something that rolled underneath it. It took me at least five sips to figure it out and I think I have - it's the sweetness rolling undetected under the earthy taste. It was hard to put that part of the tea's taste into words, yet as I continued to roll the tea around in my mouth, the sweetness came forth. I could also taste the "oolong" part of the tea - if you've had an oolong tea before, you know what I'm talking about. It's not green and it's not black but rather right in the middle of both that is distinct of neither. The earthy taste was not repulsive at all as it was mild. Don't think of earthy as "dirt" but rather as "fresh" - kissed by the sun and pulled by hands that cared. So, the way that the tea works in your mouth is like this - earthy - oolong - sweet. You really don't need sugar or any kind of sweetener with this one. It works all on its own - that's how you know you've got a stellar cup of tea.

Much thanks again to Upton Tea Imports - I hope to review more of their tea!