House Creature #2
Everything I brew, I brew for you. (+ Memoirs, vacuum canisters, and Rajiv)
Welcome back to House Creature! With winter still hanging around but spring around the corner I am in full tea mode. A cup of something warm but also floral or fruity is really hitting the spot. I guess I’m not alone because this week’s entire episode of The Splendid Table was about tea too! Check it out. They talk East Asian tea traditions with Theresa Wong, and the history of Masala Chai with Leena Trevedi-Grenier - she even shares her chai recipe.
I’ll admit I am not a tea expert. I didn’t really like tea until after I graduated from college, and I’m still working toward appreciating the complexity some teas offer. Kind of like wine, teas taste different depending on where they’re grown and how they’re processed. The tea world can be intimidating!
So what do I consider myself an expert in when it comes to tea? The super approachable stuff that still tastes good. I’m not a huge fan of Lipton, but I don’t hate on flavored teas. I’m probably not going to drop $40 on a gongfu tea ceremony, but I can enjoy a nicely aged green tea from a tea shop (with a little honey!)
My gateway tea, the first tea I really enjoyed, was called Montana Gold. It is no longer available, but it looks like Tea Source has made a dupe called Sweet Cinnamon Orange. If it is anything like the original, it will knock you over the head with flavor - I add milk to this tea just to keep from coughing because it is so potent. This is a great tea for people that don’t think they are tea people.
I drink Trader Joe’s Candy Cane Tea every. single. night. Except maybe during those months when it’s still 85 degrees after the sun goes down. I have it with milk and honey, and I believe it is perfect. It’s not just a decaf green tea with peppermint! It’s got vanilla, orange, cocoa, chicory… BUT, womp womp, it’s only available during the holidays. So yes, I am that lady you saw at TJ’s back in November with 18 boxes of this stuff in my cart. I am not embarrassed.
And lastly, if you’re trying to get into tea, give a tea latte a shot. That is what our recipe this week is all about! We’ll dive into the London Fog - the perfect winter-to-spring transition beverage: still warm and comforting, but bright and floral too. But there is a whole world of tea-mixed-with-milk to explore: golden milk lattes, chai, matcha lattes, Thai tea, etc… These are a great way to expose your taste buds to new tea flavors while enjoying something familiar at the same time. Let’s get brewing!
Makes 1 drink
1/2 cup milk of your choice
2-4 tsp London Fog syrup (recipe follows)
1 cup boiling water
1 sachet or 1.25 tsp earl grey tea
Steep your earl grey 2-5 minutes.
While the tea steeps, warm the milk (I just do it in the microwave,) then stir in your London Fog syrup (adjust the amount to your taste.)
Optional step - froth your milk! Note: even if you froth, you still need to thoroughly stir in the syrup beforehand, otherwise it will just spin around at the bottom of your cup.
Pour your sweetened milk over your steeped tea and enjoy!
Gift tip! Pack a box with this homemade syrup in a pretty jar and some nice earl grey tea for a lovely homemade gift. Throw in a milk frother (~$20) if you want to get extra fancy.
The special things on my mantel this month…
Reading Glasses Podcast - If you’re a big reader it feels good to find a podcast or two just about reading. I think because reading is such a solitary activity, listening to other people talk about books feels extra special. I enjoy NPR’s Book of the Day and Book Riot but Reading Glasses is by far my favorite. Brea and Mallory are so open to all books and readers and non-judgemental in their answers to listener questions. Their book suggestions are on point, and I have read at least a dozen books after hearing about them on their show. They also include author interviews and book tech reviews.
Memoirs! - I am not usually a big memoir reader, I’m more of a fiction person, but these three memoirs blew me away. I won’t do a full summary here, you can find those a million places online. Instead, I’ll share one-ish sentence of my thoughts for each:
Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner - Do you like food? Do you want to cry, but only a little bit? This one is for you.
Yearbook by Seth Rogan - Don’t listen to the audiobook in the car because you will laugh so hard that driving will be unsafe. But do listen to the audiobook because Seth reads it and it is *perfect.*
I’m Glad my Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy - Yes, this book has gotten tons of hype, but I understand why. Trigger warnings for eating disorders and addiction.
French Butter Crock - I finally got a french butter crock and now I never want to be without one again. I used one at my friend Jan’s house (hey Jan!) and decided I needed one because putting soft butter on warm toast is just the little bit of heaven I need in the morning. I got this red one at the Le Creuset outlet store, but have since eyed this one from food 52 and this gorgeous one on Etsy. Unfortunately having more than one butter crock might be a level of impractical that I’m not quite ready to tackle.
Sips by Subscription - Since we’re talking tea in this issue, I thought it would be a good time to talk tea subscription boxes. There are a few options out there, but I love Sips By. It’s $16 per month (but there are lots of coupon codes floating around), and you get 4 different tea options curated to your tastes in every box. You start by completing a quiz about what you like, then every month you rate the teas they sent you so they can make the boxes more specific to you in the future. I love this because:
I want to try new teas, but if you send me out to buy tea for myself, I will just buy what I’m familiar with. I like having someone else make these choices for me.
It’s a great way to try new brands and flavors.
They won’t send you what you know you don’t like. Don’t try to get me to like spearmint, it’s not going to happen.
Vacuum Coffee Canister - I was storing a lot of coffee in my freezer, which is precious real estate, so I gave this canister from Peace Coffee a shot. It is Airscape brand, just with cute Peace Coffee graphics. It keeps my beans fresh and out of the freezer, and whenever you open it you get hit in the face with coffee aroma, which might be the best part.
Grandma’s Home Playlist - This playlist consists of 75 hits from the 50’s to the 00’s. All upbeat, sing-along-worthy, crowd pleasers but without the over-played wedding reception go-tos. This is my favorite playlist for:
When I’m feeling a little blah and just need a boost.
When I’m with people I don’t know very well and someone says “turn on some music!” and I’m nervous that my music choices will be judged.
When I’m cleaning.
When friends are coming over for drinks.
What if you just didn’t clean that up? from The Cut - While this article references Marie Condo’s recent change of heart around tidiness, it isn’t about that. Instead, the author, Kathryn Jezer-Morton, shares the history of viewing cleanliness as moral superiority and a discussion of who gets to be messy and why. Maybe obviously, she also includes the important themes of gender and race in this conversation. This is a long-ish read that kept my attention and brought up a few topics on cleanliness I hadn’t considered previously.
I’m finding some balance between making things just for the practice and the process (these things I mostly keep hidden in my sketchbook), making things to add to my public portfolio, and reaching out to potential clients.
Left to Right: morning reading ritual, an afternoon visit to Como Park Conservatory, and the depiction of “an abundance of caution” from Gabrielle Zevin’s book Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow.
Find my work on Instagram: @ttink.art
A very House Creature-ie video…
You might know Rajiv Surendra from Mean Girls or Life of Pi, but it’s time you knew him as The Ultimate House Creature instead.
Rajiv has both his own YouTube channel and a “show” on HGTV’s Handmade channel. His videos with HGTV focus on basics - like how to wash windows, sharpen knives, and be a good host. His personal channel is more specific to his interests - like furniture making and Sri Lankan cooking.
This is a more recent video from his personal channel about making roti. I love that he refuses to give a recipe (because there isn’t one!) and focuses on how the dough should feel and what it looks like at every stage.
See you in two weeks for issue #2 of Tiny House Creature!
I feel famous!!!! xoxooxo
The link to the article from The Cut didn’t work! Here it is: https://www.thecut.com/2023/02/embracing-mess-vs-cleanliness.html