Sunday, January 30, 2011

January is Hot Tea Month, but still iced in northern Michigan

Hello TEA Friends,

Although it's the end of January, one still has time to continue celebrating Hot Tea Month. It's a wonderful occasion - no need run to Hallmark, wrap presents or haul out forgotten decorations stored in the basement. It's just one month on the calendar to remind us that hot tea is a special treat and, especially for those of us who reside in the northern climates, it's a welcome relief to some chilly temperatures. It's also a great month to guage the progress of my tea garden.

Last weekend, we were at our up-north cabin, Pemberly, for a marathon cross-country skiing event with the family at Garland Resort. It's officially known as the "Gourmet Glide" and it's a four-mile-plus trek across groomed trails with several fine dining stops in between (all who attended gave it a fleece-lined mittened two thumbs up). My husband and I came up a few days early and practiced skiing on our small compound. We made a routine stop at the tea garden I started last year. As you can see from the picture above, the herbs are literally chilling out.

Inside Pemberly, however, my Camellia sinensis is safe from the unfamiliar seasonal temperatures of its new locale. We keep it in the corner of the kitchen, a cozy spot flanked by a picture window and a glass doorwall. Here, when the sun does come out, it floods light and warmth to such an extent, my tea plant, if it closed its eyes, could easily believe its back in its subtropical home. It seems to be happy, budding on schedule this fall and growing noticeably in length every month.

So, while January is hot tea month, our outdoor herbal tea in northern Michigan gets served with ice. But after the down vests come off and the ski boots are left dripping on the boot rack, the tea kettle goes on, another log gets thrown on the fire and we enjoy hot tea from the inside. We get as toasty as our transplanted Camellia sinensis in the kitchen corner, where it puts its roots down for the winter. It may be the end of Hot Tea Month, but its not the end of hot tea up north, even when when the naturally iced tea is gone from the garden.

Maybe next year, I will send cards for Tea Month.

Happy 2011 to all!