Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

True to my dorky roots....

Let's start with a little history lesson. 

The month of January is named after the Roman god Janus who had two faces, one that looked backwards into the old year and one looking forward to the new.  He was the god of gates, doors, archways,  beginnings  and endings. In this month people would typically make some resolutions with a moral flavor i.e be good to others. 

Centuries later and now we make resolutions to quit smoking, lose weight and give up caffeine.  Not quite in the spirit of the original intentions but you get the picture.

I personally don't make New Years resolutions.  I think if you're going to make a change in your life, you shouldn't wait for the turning of a calendar page to do it.  You should do it whenever you're ready to commit to making a change in your life. 

Case in point.  The gyms are PACKED at this time of year.  They are making a killing on new memberships from people who are determined that this is the year they are going to get into shape.  Honestly, I hope that every single person that joins a gym in 2012 sticks with it.  That would be awesome.  But in my experience, changes that are made spur of the moment or with no real thought or planning typically don't result in permanent long term changes.

But here's to a happy and healthy new year.  May we all stick to our resolutions with ease and determination.



This is not your Grandma's Tea

Hi, my name is Ashley and I am a tea fanatic.

Don't get me wrong.  I love a good cup of coffee.  But when it boils down to it (no pun intended) there's nothing quite like the ritual involved in brewing the perfect cup or pot of tea.

Now in past years tea has been able to shuck it's frumpy stereotypes and developed a new image.  With the growing popularity of Green Tea and Chai amongst New Age Hipsters, tea isn't just for your grandma anymore.

For starters, there are THOUSANDS of different blends and combinations.  It is the most versatile beverage on the planet and there is without a doubt, a tea out there for everyone.

There's also a sense of history and ritual about preparing tea.  I mean seriously, there's a reason why there are tea rituals in so many different cultures.  There is a formal Tea Ceremony that can be found in Japanese, Chinese and Korean Cultures, there's the English practice of High-Tea and in the Southern US, sweet tea is practically part of the culture.  Heck, if you're so inclined you can even read tea leaves.

Then there's the spiritual aspect.  Yes I said spiritual.  Think about it.

True tea fans typically have multiple different teas that they enjoy at different times and in different settings.  What you have in the morning before work, is not what you may enjoy in the evening while you relax with a book.  And tea allows for this.  But think about it from the perspective of preparation.  There's something soothing and methodical about measuring out the tea leaves, hearing the whistle of a kettle and then steeping it for the perfect amount of time.  The end result is a fragrant and joyful beverage.  I'm not talking drinking tea for the sake of your health or your hydration.  I'm talking about drinking tea in order to enjoy the complexity of the blend or for how satisfying it is when you take that first sip and it's PERFECT.  It's like picking out the perfect red wine to go with the perfect meal.  There's an art to it.

Tea is also pretty good for you.  There are anti-oxidant properties and many medicinal combinations that can be formulated to help everything from an upset stomach or a sore throat, to jittery nerves and insomnia.  This is actually one of the primary reasons why tea has become so popular over the past few years.  With organic foods and naturopathic treatments becoming more and more popular, tea became an obvious alternative to the sugar heavy fattening mochachinos and frappa-whatevers that could be found at most coffee chains.

So at a time when you can find a Starbucks on almost every corner, boutique tea shops are cropping up.  And they're becoming REALLY popular.

Wall Of Tea at Davids Tea in Toronto
One of my favorite shops in Toronto is Davids Tea.  You can either have a cup of tea, buy a funky mug or tea pot, or pick from dozens of loose leaf teas that they sell.  If you tell them what types of tea you typically like they will make recommendations and let you smell canister after canister from the great WALL-O-TEA.  I go  into this place and can walk out with $50 in tea without even having to try.  I'm like a kid in a candy store.  Mate and Rooibos and Oolong OH MY! I have my go-to teas but every time I go there, I make a point of purchasing a small portion of something I haven't tried before.

Who knows, maybe the Assam Banaspaty that I picked up today will be my new favorite tomorrow?

Also from Davids
So in the true spirit of this blog, I'm going to curl up with a nice cup of Darjeeling in my awesome Space Invaders mug (Yes, I am a child of the '80s) and think happy tea thoughts.

So as the water boils let's part with a quote:

"It has been said that tea is suggestive of a thousand wants, from which spring the decencies and luxuries of civilization."
- Agnes Repplier