Cup of Tea and a Blog

Welcome to my spot for musing about all things tea. Here you'll read reviews of quality teas, click through comments on tea rooms and shops I've visited, and see photos of leaves and cups. You’ll also find things I might talk about over a cup of tea, like philosophy, literature, current events, or fun ways to pass the time.

Location: Pacific Northwest, United States

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23 September 2005

Kali Cha: Darjeeling or Oolong?

(cross-posted to Cha Dao)

The Teamail list has been buzzing with members' impressions of a unique Darjeeling that has been roasted and prepared with oolong techniques. The tea has been described as having chocolate tones, which immediately intrigued me. Even more interesting, though, is considering whether this is “darjeeling” or “oolong” tea. It was grown in the Darjeeling region, but the tea doesn’t have the usual traits associated with those teas.

Before you read my tasting notes, let me start with a shameful disclaimer: I have not yet met a Darjeeling I like. I’d mostly given up on them, in fact, but couldn’t resist sampling it after such reading such interesting descriptions from fellow tea-philes. My tea senses were tingling! :)

I ordered mine from Tao of Tea (listed under oolongs, not darjeelings). I received the Kali Cha earlier this week and have sampled it twice now. Both times I’ve brewed the tea gong fu style in a gaiwan, heaping a spoonful (good-sized pinch) of leaves, rinsed then steeped in water brought to a boil.

Dry Leaves – quick sniff is all it takes to smell the chocolate that others have noticed. It’s not cocoa, like I get from golden yunnans, but a chocolate. There’s also just a hint of berry or perhaps grape. Is this that “wine” aroma/flavor that is often used to describe darjeelings? The leaves are long, thin, wiry, almost like an Oriental Beauty (but not quite as long and without the OB’s tri-color). The Kali Cha leaves are mostly a reddish-chocolatey-brown, with a few gold tips.

As I poured off the water from rinsing, the steam rose into my face and I said “wow!” There’s definitely quite a bit of aroma, almost coffee-like, perhaps because of the roasting process? I wouldn’t describe this as a true coffee, or even chocolate, but the aroma shares a familiar trait with both of those.

When I sniff the leaves, a hint of the toasted coconut scent that I equate with medium to dark-roast oolongs is present. There’s a definite sweetness coming through. The color of the tea is lighter than I thought it might be, but there’s quite a red tinge to the liquid. The color reminds me of red-velvet cake.

First steep: Very nice, but not really chocolate in flavor. Roasted. Smokey.

Second steep: still holding its flavor quite nicely.

Third steep: the leaves are unfurling more and the liquid is taking on more of a green cast. I finally get a sense of what another Teamailer referred to as “pencil shavings.” It’s not as off-putting as you might think, but I preferred the first two steepings.

Overall: I do like the roasted notes and appreciate the sweet nature of this tea. Most darjeelings I’ve tried have been too citric for my taste, but this one isn’t. Quite nice. I’m surprised to find myself liking a Darjeeling.

Which brings me to the big question: is a darjeeling tea really a darjeeling without any standard darjeeling characteristics?

I do find this to be more similar to oolongs, mostly because it’s sweeter and less fruity than I expect from a Darjeeling (which may be incorrect expectation on my part). It is worth noting, however, that Tao of Tea lists this in their oolongs but not in the darjeeling teas.

The Kali Cha especially brings to mind more heavily roasted and aged oolongs, but it has some notable differences that make it unique. First, the aroma rises off in the steam instead of staying in the cup. When I used the aroma-tasting cup combo, there was no lingering scent in the cup. However, the whole upstairs of my house was beautifully fragrant from this tea. Second, this seems to want a longer brewing time than most of the oolongs I’ve tried. It is a robust tea, but it doesn’t go bitter – quite forgiving, actually.

Is the sweet and gentle side to this tea evident in other Darjeelings? I prefer this to the more astringent notes of wine or the ripening peach flavor that had been my previous experience with Darjeeling.

Let me end by saying that I am happily surprised to have found a Darjeeling (even if it is an oolong) that I really like. :)

20 September 2005

Recently Clicked, September 18, 2005

Cha Dao, a blog of tea notes. I think of it as sort of a “panel of tea tasters” who provide detailed tasting notes on teas from China and Taiwan. I was pleased to be asked to join this morning and am looking forward to learning from the other participants. I'll cross-post my tasting notes here (probably written up a bit differently), so it shouldn't impact my own Cup of Tea and a Blog. :)

Tamaryo, a tea blog. I can sort of wiggle my way through French, getting a sense for what is written and grabbing a French-English dictionary (or Alta Vista’s Babelfish translator) when I get stuck. Even if you don’t read French, this is an interesting blog to view because of the really nice photos.

Teasire, a relatively new tea blog. I appreciate the sense of humor that is evident in each post.

Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony. One of my weekly stops, the Tea Arts Blog, has some interesting information on the wu-wo ceremony, which strives for stillness and transcending prejudices to create a group based on equality (if I understand correctly).

The Tea Page, Birger Nielsen,’s personal web site. There are many resources, including an extensive page of links to tea related web resources. Antique Chinese Porcelain Collector's Help and Info Page. You’ll find a good amount of information, a glossary, and even a discussion board. The site also has antique pottery & porcelain for sale, so the information isn’t disinterested, but it still seems to be worthwhile for anyone collecting antiques.

"West Bengal taps Colonial heritage for tea tourism," Hindustan Times, August 22, 2005. The state government is working to develop a new concept of "Tea Tourism" to help boost their tourist industry.

"Beijing calling, a street art striving for survival," China Daily, 2005-09-09 06:10. The article focuses on a man who is preserving the folk art involved with the hawking of street wares (including bowls of hot tea). He is recording the forms of street yelling art that declined in China after 1949.

International Tea Convention. This is where I wish I could be at the end of the month.

Request a free issue of Tea Experience Digest. I know nothing about this magazine, but figured a free issue couldn’t hurt.

13 September 2005

Tasting Notes: Teas from Hou de Fine

One of the boxes of tea that arrived on my birthday was from Hou De Fine Asian Art. In addition to the teas I had ordered, some very nice samples were tucked inside. They even included a slice of soap made from soapberry oil (and an actual soapberry!). Kudos to the careful shipping on their part (not all vendors are as good with packaging). The teas are sealed in airtight bags, then packed in thin cardboard to better protect them. The leaves all are beautiful, in good condition, and obviously well stored. Labels on the teas include a brief description, which I always appreciate.

As always, Guang is helpful and friendly in email exchanges. I have also learned much from Guang’s posts to Teamail, and from the extensive information you can find on the Hou de Fine web site. Tea lovers out there should definitely explore the site – videos, a newsletter, photos, beautiful antiques, and excellent information on puerh. I think you’ll get a sense of the care and pride that is taken with their tea.

So far, I’ve tasted three of the teas in my box from Hou de Fine. All three were excellent, but the one that blew my socks off was the Li-Shan.

2005 Spring Yunnan "Jin-Si" Golden Tips: good and solid. Earthy, and textured. This is a quality tea that is decently priced.

Not as sweet or with as many cocoa notes as some, but there’s a nice peppery bite to the tea. I need to try this again and will post more extensive notes in an upcoming golden yunnan comparison (have a few more to review now, as I continue my quest for the perfect cocoa-pepper taste).

2005 Spring “Green-Leaf Red-Rim” Formosa Hand-Harvested Oolong: I read the description of this tea earlier in the year, and it’s been bookmarked in my “tea want list” since then.

The leaves are beautiful, unfurling to show off the the leaf in its entirety, and they cast a reddish tint to the liquid. Because of this, the tea is more amber than green.

I quite enjoyed this tea. It is intricate, smooth, and just a bit sweet. I sniffed the aroma cup (is that the correct term?) and found a deep sweetness with just a touch of roasting. As the tea cools, the floral taste strengthens. The smooth quality of the tea coats the tongue and throat, and there is just a hit of citrus/lime in the aftertaste.

2005 Spring Li-Shan “Ma-Le-Pa” Tribe Premium Oolong: This was included as a sample in a recent order, and my taste buds are deeply grateful.

The color is a beautiful gold that glows in the sunlight. The aroma is not the sugary sweet smell (which I think is the natural plant sugars coming to the forefront when they’re roasted). Instead, there is a natural, lighter, barely-there sweetness, dominated by a milky texture that coats the tongue. I want to compare this to butterscotch, but it’s not sweet enough for that. More sweet notes do come through with the second steep.

For some reason I kept finding myself slurping this tea. That’s right – no dainty sipping this time around. I’m sure this has something to do with positioning the tea on the tongue; perhaps the tea wants to be shoved to the far backsides of the mouth? Definitely this is a "back of the tongue and into the throat" tea, which means the aroma goes up into the nose quite nicely as its sipped. The slurping might also be my wanting to fizz it up a bit, to create more oxygen against the tea in the mouth, or to let the fragrance move into my nose. (or, maybe I was just being a pig and guzzling the wonderful liquid) :)

The flavor of this tea is very comforting to me. It is sweet but not too sweet, with just a hint of green. The floral element comes through more as I sip, but mostly I note the soft silk that is left coating my throat. Quite intriguing. The tea held up well through multiple steepings. Even the third and fourth steep had the buttery coating effect.

Durable, tasty, with a lingering aftertaste. I’ll remember this tea.

12 September 2005

Cindy’s Stack of Books, Sept. 2005

At any given time, there are several books lying around my house in various stages of being read. Some are waiting on the front stairs for return to the library, some I’m just starting, and others I read in small bits with chunks of time between chapters to think about things. Almost always, at least one book is from the mystery genre. There is also always a book near bed for me to read before falling asleep. Other than that book for bedtime, I usually read with a pot of tea close at hand.

Here is my current stack of books. I’ve linked to the page for each one, so you can read excerpts and see the cover on their web site (if you’re interested).

The Jane Austen Book Club, by Karen Joy Fowler. This was a quick supermarket grab before traveling to New Mexico – picked up granola bars, bottled water, and a book for the plane trip. Because it was sold next to a bunch of cheesy romance novels, I had relatively low expectations for this book. I was instead quite happy to have found a pleasant novel. Fowler is obviously well-versed in the lore and literature of Austen, and she winds her own narratives in and out of the themes of Austen’s novels. The book opens with the line, “Each of us has a private Austen, “ then goes on to tell the story of an interesting group of readers.

Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir, by Azar Nafisi, which is my one-chapter-then-a-break-for-thinking book. This was recommended by a good friend who teaches it in her Women’s Literature class. I’m just starting and already know this is going to be a good one. It is more lighthearted and hopeful than you might expect, and it has many thought-provoking descriptions and stories in just the first chapter. Description from the backcover:

Every Thursday morning for two years in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a bold and inspired teacher. . . secretly gathered seven of her most committed female students to read forbidden Western classics. As Islamic morality squads staged arbitrary raids in Tehran, fundamentalists seized hold of the universities, and a blind censor stifled artistic expression, the girls in Azar Nafisi’s living room risked removing their veils and immersed themselves in the worlds of Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, and Vladimir Nabokov.

As I write this, it occurs to me that I’ve seen some Austen movies and read a few Austen-themed books lately, but it’s been a couple of years since reading an actual Jane Austen novel. Time for me to dig out my dog-eared copies of Pride & Prejudice, Persuasion, and Emma. It must be Autumn, if my mind is turning toward 18th Century British writers (Austen, Bronte, and Gaskell, here I come!).

The Sunday Philosophy Club, the first book in Alexander McCall Smith’s new series about Isabel Dalhousie, editor of an Ethics journal and an occasional sleuth. This is by my bed, since McCall Smith's books are often a string of shorter stories and events (although the new series doesn’t seem to do this quite as much as his No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books). I’m just beginning, so no real thoughts on the new series other than looking forward to reading the books. You can read a bit more about the book in this article: Tea and Philosophy. Among other quotes from the author: "Readers are always asking if I can write more about tea, more about cake. I think it's because the scenes with food are really about fellowship, and we can all relate to that."

Anne Perry’s Shoulder the Sky, book 2 of her WWI series. I love Perry’s Victorian mysteries and was happy to find her new mystery series that is set just before and during WWI. I found the first book to be an edge-of-your-seat mystery with a strong sense of history, and I’m looking forward to losing myself in this one. Tea makes its appearance early on, this time against the bleak setting of Flanders Field:

Sam had brewed tea in his Dixie can, which was carefully propped over a lighted candle. He had a packet of chocolate biscuits that had come out of a parcel from home. He poured the tea, half for Joseph, and divided the biscuits.
“Thanks.” Joseph took it and bit into one of the biscuits. It was crisp and sweet. It almost made up for the taste of the tea made with brackish water and cooked in an all-purpose can. At least it was hot.

I can never read Perry without remembering one of my favorite films, Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures. The young Kate Winslet plays Anne Perry (then Juliet Hulme) as a teenage girl. There is a bit of guilty pleasure involved when reading a murder whodunit written by a woman who was once convicted of murder herself (certainly she has insights that most authors don’t have), but mostly I read her books because she’s a darn good writer of historical mystery novels. It wasn’t until years after I’d seen the movie (and was already reading Perry’s books), that I found out about the Parker-Hulme murder case. It certainly adds a new dimension to things.

That’s all for this time. Let me know your thoughts on any of these books, and please do feel free to recommend others to add to my stack! :)

Tea at 44

My birthday was this past weekend, and in spite of turning yet another year older I had a wonderful time.

Things began well on Friday, when I went to my favorite teahouse in Seattle – Floating Leaves. I had the silky smooth Alishan oolong, and then tried a new puerh they’re carrying. Of course, the best part was getting to chat with (owner) Shiuwen. I always learn quite a bit from her, and that afternoon she answered many questions about which oolongs are from “high mountains.” Exploring oolong teas has required a bit of a Taiwan geography lesson, but I’m starting to get a sense of how the different teas match up to different mountains and regions.

I also picked up my birthday present to myself, a new Yixing pot. I'd asked Shiuwen to look for one with a tiny, short snout. I always grin when I see short snouts on a pot -- there's something very cheerful about them. This one is for green puerhs, and I’m looking forward to trying it out this week.

Saturday morning, I brewed a pot of my favorite golden yunnan (only a few treasured spoonfuls left), then did one of my favorite things – went to the farmer’s market in the rain. Usually the Saturday Market in Redmond is sunny and warm, and I have to elbow through to get to my favorite things (extra-hot pepper jam, baked goods, tuna from a local boat, artisan cheeses, organic tomatoes and herbs and lettuces). However, when the rain is coming down the crowds are thinner, and I get to actually talk with the vendors. It makes for a fun morning, talking with the artisans and farmers, learning which veggies are just about to be harvested, and finding out how they started working with food and agriculture.

I came back to find birthday presents waiting to be opened over a pot of tea. I got out the apple tartlets from the farmer’s market to go with a second pot of my favorite tea, and after a few cups I was ripping paper from boxes. What a wonderful set of gifts from my husband, a perfect trio for someone who writes, travels, and sips tea.

That’s a laptop table for my laptop computer (perfect when I want to blog from a comfy chair), a bodum mini ibis (to make tea when I travel), and (the best of all) an antique gaiwan from the Desaru shipwreck.

I believe it was Tea Masters blog where I first read about the pots and cups/bowls from the Chinese shipwreck. I’ve been looking at them with longing for several months, and I’m incredibly excited to have my own piece of history. It’s also interesting to see the accompanying video of the history and archaeological techniques used in excavating the shipwreck. I love that this isn’t a piece of fancy pottery; instead, it was a regular everyday trade item.

Indeed, one of my favorite parts of writing and reading about tea has to do with discovering the everyday tea cultures from around the world. In many ways, tea introduces me to the flavors, the agricultural products, the heritage, and the “comfort foods” of cultures. That is something I’ve been thinking about quite often lately, which means I’ll ponder it a while and then probably blog some more on the subject in a month or two. :)

Not long after opening presents, my postal carrier knocked on the door and handed off three boxes of tea and samples – yay! More tea! I haven’t ordered any in a couple of months, so I needed to restock favorites and (of course) try a few new teas. I’ve sipped a couple of the oolongs, and I can’t wait to try some of the puerh samples I’d ordered. I’ll write some reviews soon.

The day ended with a trip to one of my favorite sushi places for dinner – Sushiman, in Issaquah, WA. No tea, only sake, great food, and a sweet husband who made sure my birthday was relaxed and filled special moments.

08 September 2005

Recently Clicked: September 8, 2005

Alishan Delivers Cool Tea Taste, CNN World article from Aug. 11. A nice look at the parks, tourist industry, and premium tea of Alishan, Taiwan.

AIDS Sows Ruin of Malawian Tea Industry, China Daily article, July 20. The sad news of an African tea industry in decline because of the HIV/AIDs pandemic. The country has grown tea for more than a century and is Africa’s second largest producer behind Kenya.

Chinese Tea, photos, history, and general information from

Travel Along the Ancient Tea Horse Path—Changdu, from China Daily, traveling to and drinking Tea in Changdu, a pass which is a gateway to Tibet.

World Tea Expo. I’m thinking about going to this annual conference next spring. I don’t have my own tea business, but it still seems like a great time. Plus, Las Vegas is a sunny antidote to the rainy winter of Seattle.

Tea Time at Madame C.J. Walker’s Beauty Salon, a wonderful photo from the 1920s.

English Tea Can Painting, a tutorial will show you how to use Photoshop make a photo look like the painting on old English tea cans.

Arranging The Tea Table, a 1940s video from the Internet Archive that “explains the reasoning behind attractive and correct tea-table arranging.” It is kind of interesting to see the table setting skills, but be prepared for a 1950s-era-how-to-be-the-perfect-housewife film.

Comparison: Tie Kuan Yin Oolongs

Through a happy set of circumstances, I have three samples of Tie Kuan Yin sitting in my oolong tea chest. I’ve been wanting to have a nice comparison-tasting session, so I got out my camera, the teas, and my glass gaiwan, then started the water boiling.

All three oolongs were prepared gongfu style (or at least my homestyle version of gongfu). I used brita-filtered tap water brought just to a boil. This was poured over about one teaspoon of leaves steeped in a gaiwan for 1 minute (the first steeping). The tea was then poured into a cup for tasting.

Tasting Notes and overall comments follow.

Gourmet Tea Company’s Tie Kuan Yin, sent to me as one of several introductory samples.

This has quite a roasted aroma. The liquid is very light green with a hint of copper. The flavor is fuller than the color of the liquid would indicate (once again, I learn that color doesn’t always correlate with flavor).

Both the aroma and flavor have that roasted coconut overtone that I associate with aged oolongs. I’ve only tried two aged oolongs, so perhaps the flavor I thought to be characteristic of aging is actually characteristic of a type of roasting?

Second steep: more than a minute later, and I’m not noticing as much aroma. Should I have put more leaves in? I’m going to let this sit for another minute, to see if it just needs more time. 60 seconds later, and yes, I can smell that toasted coconut again. I poured the tea into a cup, and am enjoying the sweetness of this second steeping. It leaves a buttery, sugary coating on my tongue – quite an interesting aftertaste. As it cools, it gets even more sweet. It could make an interesting iced tea.

Third steep; very subtle flavor, more like a good cup of fresh spring water than a cup of tea. I actually like ending with this, a quiet finish that reminds me of the nature of water and leaves.

Tea Masters’ Tie Guan Yin, one of several samples Stephane included with some wonderful puerh he purchased for me. Place:An Xi, Fu Jian. Harvest: Spring 2005.

Color is a bit darker, but still with a rusty or coppery overcast. The Flavor is quite robust, and it brewed up more quickly than the previous. Again, this is a naturally sweet tea – very pleasing, and with a lingering, buttery aftertaste. This tie guan yin is a sharper-edged tea. It’s not bitter, but perhaps “stouter.” The aroma is that toasted/roasted scent, but it’s not quite what I think of as coconut.

Hmmmm…perhaps I’m equating some oolongs with toasted coconut because of the sweetness? That aroma of roasting sugars could be what I’m associating with coconut. Does roasting (and re-roasting, in the case of aged oolongs) bring out more of the natural plant sugars in a tea leaf?

Second steep: This tea brews up much faster. I increased the time only by 30 seconds instead of 90. The color is more green, less red than the first steep. Where the Gourmet Tea oolong had many interesting notes as it cooled, I prefer sipping Tea Masters’ Tie Guan Yin when it is fresh and hot. It is perfectly fine as it cools, but there is a very satisfying element to the steam as it rises from the cup – the aroma lingers and adds to the overall taste of the tea. There are nice floral elements to the tea, and their fragrance also adds quite a bit to the experience.

Third steep: Still holding well, but I’m stopping after a couple of sips in order to move on to the next tea. My eyes are spinning a bit from all of this tea, but I am still going to try one more. :)

TenFu’s Tieh Kwan Yin, purchased at a nearby Asian grocery for $4.50US. Yes, it’s a cheap bulk-produced box of tea, but I am interested in how this holds up to the higher quality tea samples.

The furled leaves are less uniform in color – some are green while others are browner. Does this indicate less consistency in roasting or oxidizing? Or, is it a sign that the leaves came from multiple sources?

Aroma & Color: no toasted coconut or sense of sweetness, although it doesn’t smell bitter either. There is a heavier floral fragrance to this tea. The color is very green, without much of a rust or red tone.

The tea also tastes much greener to me. There’s even a hint of that vegetable or brothy flavor that comes across in many greens. The buttery nature that was so prevalent in the previous two is still here, but it doesn’t coat the tongue or leave an aftertaste. Floral notes dominate this tea, which isn’t a bad thing, but it does mean that other notes are subdued.

As the tea cools in the cup, the floral turns just a tad astringent, but the buttery notes come through more.

Second steep; it held up to rebrewing, still quite floral, this time with more of the broth characteristic. I like the second steeping better, since the astringency disappeared.

Overall: The buttery, silky nature of Tie Kuan Yin is fabulous. I think this will be a favorite oolong for me. I’m looking forward to trying more, and to seeing how these vary from one season to the next.

So, which of the above three oolongs did I like best? The first two were both wonderful, and I can see myself sipping either one in the future. The sugary elements to Gourmet Tea’s oolong were intriguing, and I want to experiment with that a bit. Tea Masters’ oolong was also a treat to sip – it’s one of those “ahhhhhhhhhhh” teas that warm you to the tips of your toes.

The cheaper tea from the grocery store doesn’t stand up to the complexity found in other two, but I must say that it was still darn good. At less than a dollar an ounce, that comes out to a pretty cheap cup of good oolong. I’ll probably use this as a carry-along tea, for hikes and trips where I want a thermos of oolong.

03 September 2005

Chile & Tea in Las Cruces, NM, USA

Earlier this week, I returned from a quick trip to southern New Mexico. I'd spent a few days visiting a good friend in Alamogordo, then drove to the other side of the Organ Mountains for a day in my old home town of Las Cruces.

The city of Las Cruces spreads from the mesas to the low-lying fields of Mesilla Valley, about 40 miles north of the Mexican border. The mesas are cactus-filled, sandy desert; creosote bush, mesquite, and huge yucca dot the landscape. In the lower valley, which lines either side of the Rio Grande, the fertile soil supports miles of chile and cotton fields, as well as the second largest expanse of pecan orchards in the world.

The food of New Mexico is amazing – hot, spicy, flavorful, and hearty. Southern New Mexico is especially known for chile rellenos (chile peppers stuffed with cheese, dipped in a light batter, and fried). One of my major goals was to buy fresh green chiles and pecans to take home, but I also wanted to visit the place where I first learned how to brew loose leaf tea.

That place was Spirit Winds, a coffee and tea café. In addition to good food and drink, there’s also an attached gift shop full of funny cards and southwestern-themed gifts. Spirit Winds is just a couple of blocks from New Mexico State University, so it has a funky college student vibe. I spent many evenings there, studying and sipping tea while listening to someone strum a guitar or read poetry out on the patio.

The tea served is all Republic of Tea, so much of it is flavored, herbal, or a blend. Back when they first opened (mid-90s), they served the tea in small bodum pots. After a year, they decided to go to plastic brewing pots instead (too much breakage). It was an easy introduction to loose-leaf tea, and I quickly moved on to find online discussion groups and tea vendors.

This week, a decade later (and 5 years since I’ve been in Cruces), I was happy to see that Spirit Winds still exists. It looks much as it used to, with a bright purple exterior and a funky décor. There are small café seats inside, and larger tables outside. When it gets too hot, they turn on the outdoor misters for cooling.

It had been a long night, and I was in dire need of a stout cup of tea. After checking out from my hotel, I drove uphill to Spirit Winds. A few minutes later, for $3 plus some change, I carried a pot of Assam and a piece of streudel out to the patio.

Much refreshed, I headed back downhill toward the chile fields and the town of Old Mesilla, where I picked up a 30-pound sack of Hatch Green Chiles and some fabulous Stahmann pecans. The chiles arrived a day after me, and they are now roasted (to blister the skin), tucked in bags, and stacked in my freezer. I’m set all year for chile rellenos, green chile stew, and breakfast burritos. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. :)

If you’re in Las Cruces, there are still only a few places to find a decent cup of tea. Spirit Winds is my favorite because of its character, and I’d recommend a stop there (the food is always great, and vegetarian options available). Make sure you drive downhill into Old Mesilla as well – one of the oldest towns in the U.S., and you’ll get a great fix of wonderful old adobe dwellings as well as incredible food.