What’s Making Me Happy: November 2017

Does anyone else feel like November zoomed by? Again? It feels that way every year, first with Thanksgiving and now Christmas approaching fast. And while November was relatively stress-free, I’ve been struggling to keep up with blogging because of changes in my work circumstances. I’m not sure how this impact the blog in the long term. But since I’m planning to take an annual holiday hiatus from blogging soon, the time-off might be a good chance to think about what changes, if any, might be needed for 2018.

But I shouldn’t get too ahead of myself, shouldn’t I? 🙂 So let’s turn our attention away from what may be ahead to what we can already be thankful for. As always, feel free to share your joys of the past month in your comments. But for now, I’ll share with you the things that made me happy this November!

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The Liebster Award 4.0

Liebster No 4

Back in September (which seems like forever ago now), Rona at Tea with Polly was kind enough to nominate me for my fourth Liebster Award. (Thank you, Rona!) It’s taken me a while to get to it because of the holiday craziness offline and the end-of-year posts I wanted to get out. But now, I finally have time to start catching up on awards again. (Yes, I still have others to do. It’s a little embarrassing…)

Btw, if you’re a fellow tea lover, I highly recommend you follow Tea with Polly. I’ve been part of Rona’s readership for a while, and have found some delectable-sounding teas and herbal tisanes I want to try as a result. 😉

Here are the rules for this round of the Liebster Award:

  1. Link back to the person who nominated you.
  2. Answer the questions given to you by the nominator.
  3. Nominate up to 11 other bloggers.
  4. Create 11 questions for the nominees.
  5. Notify all nominees via social media and/or their blogs.

Let’s get started, shall we?

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Tea Time at Reverie: Whispering Pines Tea Company’s Rivendell Tea

I think I know a number of readers who will leap at learning more about this tea! And in my opinion, this unique and delicious oolong blend was a stunning reflection of its namesake. Head on over to A Bibliophile’s Reverie now to read my review of Whispering Pine Tea Company’s Rivendell Tea!

A Bibliophile's Reverie

Whispering Pines logo

“Shadows had fallen in the valley below, but there was still a light on the faces of the mountains far above. The air was warm. The sound of running and falling water was loud, and the evening was filled with a faint scent of trees and flowers, as if summer still lingered in Elrond’s gardens.”
J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”

Oh, have I been itching to introduce our fellow bibliophiles to Whispering Pines Tea Company! This Michigan-based vendor specializing in loose-leaf teas, herbal tisanes, and handcrafted tea blends. Many of Whispering Pines’ offerings are inspired by the wilderness of northern Michigan. A select few, however, are influenced by literature, including three coming from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth.

Which brings me to our first Whispering Pines tea for review. In Middle-Earth, Rivendell is the stunningly beautiful home of Lord Elrond and other Elves, and a…

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Time Flies!: November 2015

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Welcome to the latest edition of Time Flies! It’s my version of a monthly update, where I recap the past month’s accomplishments and articles, share news and random things from my offline life, and hint at what may be coming in the month ahead.

Huh? What do you mean, tomorrow’s the first day of December?! I’m not ready to think about 2016 yet!!

Buddy the Elf

It’s insane how quickly this year has sped by. November in itself was a blur. I was hoping things would quiet down after a nutty October. Nope. Life offline turned into another kind of crazy altogether. So I’ve craved more time than usual to relax and meditate, and I know I’ll still need it now that the holiday season is underway.

Btw, I hope all my fellow Americans (and anyone else who celebrates the holiday) had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I’d traveled out to state to spend it with relatives, hence my absence from the blog and social media for the past few days.

Let me give you a chance to catch up on the past month’s posts now:
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Tea Time at Reverie: Teasenz’s Ali Shan Milky Oolong Tea

Oolongs are wonderfully versatile when it comes to flavor. They can be floral, vegetal, fruity, honeyed – or, in this case, milky. It sounds like a weird combination, but it’s actually not so far-fetched. Find out why in my review of Teasenz’s Ali Shan Milky Oolong at A Bibliophile’s Reverie.

Also, I’ll be “off the grid” for the Thanksgiving holiday. I should be back on social media either Sunday or Monday, and my next blog post will go live on Monday as well. Until then, have a good rest of your week and a Happy Thanksgiving!

A Bibliophile's Reverie

teasenzlogo

Awwww, we’re down to our final Teasenz sample! I’ve really enjoyed trying this Chinese vendor’s selections over the past year. Each has been of superb quality, to the point that I know I’ll be a customer in the future. 😉

So, what have I saved for last from Teasenz? Ali Shan Milky Oolong. (Yes, the name does sound strange if you’ve never heard of it before.) This particular kind of tea is grown only in Taiwan, in the country’s Ali Shan Mountain region. According to Teasenz, the area’s soil conditions and the production methods used for these leaves bring out a unique milk flavor and creaminess. Read on to find out how these qualities manifest once Ali Shan Milky Oolong is brewed.

The Basics

Teasenz Ali Shan Milky Oolong 1 Photo courtesy of Teasenz

Teasenz’s Description:Intense creamy taste with floral undertone. A one-of-a-kind tea from Taiwan with a fantastically creamy flavor resulting from its unique roasting process. Our Ali Shan…

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Tea Time at Reverie: Tea From Taiwan’s GABA Oolong Tea

Being a tea reviewer has allowed me to sample all kinds of teas that I had never heard of before. GABA tea is the latest example – and I bet this is a new one for many other tea drinkers, too. Find out what makes this oolong from Tea From Taiwan so unique in my latest post at A Bibliophile’s Reverie.

A Bibliophile's Reverie

Tea From Taiwan logo

Ever heard of GABA Oolong Tea before? Most likely you haven’t. Neither had I, until Tea From Taiwan sent me a sample for review. Apparently it’s popular in Japan and Taiwan, but it hasn’t caught on here in the United States yet. Hmmmmmm. I wonder why?

First produced in Japan in 1987, GABA tea is made from high-grade whole leaves (either green or oolong) that are naturally rich in glutamic acid. The leaves undergo a unique process where they’re exposed to nitrogen gas under controlled conditions to release gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an amino acid that occurs naturally in the human body’s nervous system and retinae. As for possible health benefits, scientific studies have shown that GABA tea may help with relieving anxiety and stress, increasing mental alertness, and lowering high blood pressure.

Interesting, don’t you think? If you’d like to learn more about GABA Oolong Tea, check out Tea From Taiwan’s…

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Tea Time at Reverie: Yezi Tea’s Tie Guan Yin High Grade Oolong Tea

Squeezing in another tea review before the end of the month! I purposely saved Tie Guan Yin as my final sample from Yezi Tea because it’s my favorite kind of oolong. And this High Grade version of Tie Guan Yin did not disappoint! Read my review at A Bibliophile’s Reverie to learn more.

A Bibliophile's Reverie

Yezi logo

Today’s tea is one of many names: Iron Goddess Oolong, Iron Bodhisattva, Monkey-Picked Oolong, Tie Kwan Yin (Taiwanese)… They’re all part of the pool known as Tie Guan Yin, which is Chinese for “Iron Goddess of Mercy.” This renowned oolong tea is available at most tea shops and online retailers, including our friends at Yezi Tea, who were kind enough to send us samples. (Justin also wrote about Yezi’s Tie Guan Yin High Grade Oolong Tea here.)

Yezi’s brand of Tie Guan Yin High Grade Oolong hails from the mountains of Anxi County in the southern Fujian province of China. Since the early days of the Qing Dynasty, this tea has been famous for its heavy body and surprisingly sweet flavor. So, how does Tie Guan Yin measure up to other oolongs we’ve tasted for Tea Time? Read on to find out!

The Basics

Photo courtesy of Yezi Tea Photo courtesy…

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Tea Time at Reverie: Tea From Taiwan’s Zhong Shu Hu Oolong Tea

Another tea review is up at A Bibliophile’s Reverie! This time I try Zhong Shu Hu Oolong from Tea From Taiwan. If you’re a fan of light or milky (Alishan) oolongs, this one might be of interest to you.

A Bibliophile's Reverie

Tea From Taiwan logo

Forgive me if I’ve said it before, but the variety of oolong teas never ceases to amaze me. Vegetal, floral, fruity, roasted – each one has been as unique as a person’s fingerprint. Today we have another oolong offering for you: Zhong Shu Hu Oolong, courtesy of Tea From Taiwan. This particular tea is grown in the Ali Mountain region (Alishan), which is one of Taiwan’s most famous tea-producing regions. Most oolongs from this part of the world are known for their unique “milky” presence in both aroma and taste. However, Tea From Taiwan describes Zhong Shu Hu as sweet and complex. Maybe it’s a little bit of all three qualities? Let’s find out.

The Basics

Zhong Shu Hu Tea From Taiwan Photo courtesy of Tea From Taiwan

Tea From Taiwan’s Description:“Zhong Shu Hu oolong tea has a sweet taste and refined aroma. Each brewing brings out new flavours and taste sensations. This…

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Time Flies!: January 2015

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[EDIT: Somehow I forgot there were 31 days in January, so this is accidentally going up one day early. *oops*]

No, that’s not possible. Another month hasn’t gone by yet. I’m still trying to get used to writing 2015 instead of 2014!

That pretty much sums up how I feel as I write Time Flies!: January 2015. The first month of this year went by way too quickly – and it was an awfully stressful month offline, which stalled my blog-writing for a while. I was forced to put articles for this site on the backburner just so I could meet my deadlines for my outside columns. So… yeah, January 2015 was a blur. Things look like they’re starting to slow down, though, so I’ve been able to start catching up and cross off items on my “to-do” list.

Let’s be more positive from here on, starting with the past month’s updates: Continue reading

Freelance Article Round-Up: October 2014

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Welcome to this month’s Freelance Article Round-Up – and Happy Halloween! October turned out to be a very busy month, so let’s get right to what’s happened since the previous update.

Tea Time at Reverie (Tea Reviews)

I’d totally forgotten that I could reblog my tea reviews from A Bibliophile’s Reverie here until just recently. *facepalm* Anyways, here are links to the Tea Time articles from the past month in case you missed them:

Grub Street

Grub Street posted my article “How Music Can Enhance Your Writing” at their blog yesterday! It talks about music can help with concentration and influence emotion, character development, and other aspects of your writing. This article was a joy to write, since I could share a few personal experiences. It was also fun to research and see how other writers have benefited from the same practice – and which songs and genres they listened to!

Click here to read “How Music Can Enhance Your Writing.”

What’s Coming in November

More tea reviews are on their way at A Bibliophile’s Reverie, as well as the column’s first review of a book on tea. I’ve also got some great news regarding another freelance venture – news I’m so excited for, I’m fidgeting in my seat! But I can’t share it until the site officially announces their new columnists. So, stay tuned! 😉

Other Happenings

Despite a hectic month, I managed to cross the 90K mark on my fantasy WIP. *whew!* I still doubt I’ll finish the first draft before year’s end (projected final word count is about 115,000), but I’m thrilled and proud of how I’ve been able to plow forward despite my offline commitments. Makes me want to go trick-or-treating just to celebrate! (Like I need the candy, though. *lol*)

The next Freelance Article Round-Up will post on Sunday, November 30th. Until then, come back for more Recent Reads (book reviews), another installment of Chronicling The Craft (novel-writing progress series), and much more!