My understated love: Tea

I think everyone who knows me knows I love coffee. I’m not addicted by any means – it’s rare that I have a cup every day of the week – but I still love the caffeine and the flavor as well. It’s oddly soothing for me to wake up and start my day with a cup of coffee…. often, if I’m tired enough, it’s my ONLY motivation to get up!

Unfortunately, I’m by no means a coffee expert. I’ve tried to begin distinguishing flavors in regions, but I can never keep them straight in my brain or my mouth. It’s still tough for me to discern a textbook ‘good’ cup from a ‘bad’ one – the only guide I have is my rather blind taste buds that tell me it tastes good when it’s strong and flavorful. But, I’ve actually purchased a few coffee¬†books from Amazon that I should be getting my hands on this weekend that I can’t wait to read!

However, perhaps one thing not everyone knows about me is my love for tea. It’s a different love, perhaps deeper in a way. It very much mirrors my love for beer – there are so many different kinds, styles, flavors and varieties to try, and while I know what I do and don’t like, I’m ALWAYS willing to try a new kind! In this way, my love for coffee mirrors wine – I don’t think I’ve ever had a glass I don’t like, and yet I can’t figure out why. There’s dark roasts and light, and red wines and white, but that’s about as deep as my understanding goes (but soon to change!).

Yesterday, a co-worker stopped by my desk. “I noticed your stash of teas here,” she said. I smiled, delighted – I have two boxes of Tazo tea (my new favorite, Focus, and my ‘sick’ tea, Green Ginger) sitting on top of a tin of Tazo Awake, next to a box of Bigelow Apple Cider, next to a clear jar of mismatched tea bags. “Did you know we have a Tea Club here?”

….. O.O

She excitedly told me all about the group and the massive collection of teas they’ve acquired. There’s no monthly dues, she said; the only requirement is to bring some tea to share and you’re free to partake in the assortment.

I’m feeling a little disappointed, but only because I can’t believe no one had told me about this before! I donated some of my beloved Tazo Focus, as well as some Apple Cider and a Yogi tea I wasn’t a huge fan of (but hopefully someone else can enjoy!). And when I walked over to see the stockpile… holy moly, my jaw dropped!

Loose teas and other varieties!

Blacks, Greens, Whites, Reds, so many different varieties!

Needless to say, I’ve made it my personal mission to try as many kinds of tea as I can, and perhaps find a new favorite! I think Kevin might donate some of his Chinese Oolong tea in exchange for some Rooibos tea he wants to try.

If nothing else, let this perhaps be motivation to go try something you’ve never tried before, be it tea, coffee, or a new food! You never know, you just might discover a new favorite. :)


Adventures in Music City!

Current location: Nashville, TN
Distance traveled today: 200 miles/~4 hours

Well this is our second night in Nashville, and so far it’s been a good stay! We arrived yesterday afternoon, and even though we haven’t had time to see any of the sights we’ve had plenty more good food and fun.

The city of Nashville, as seen from our car on the freeway!

Last night we ate at a place called Puckett’s, where we had large portions of tasty ribs, pulled pork and AMAZING sweet potato fries! I forgot to take a picture but believe me, those fries definitely hit the spot. And, as we were leaving, we caught a few songs of a live band that was playing that evening. We wanted to head downtown more otherwise we would have stayed, but the classic rock cover band sounded really good!

The Bicho Brothers at Puckett's

Walking down Broadway street in downtown Nashville

After dinner my parents and I went to one bar further downtown because we had gotten a buy one, get one free coupon from a concierge guy at our hotel. We sat and listened to another cover band do Elvis and random assortment of twangy country… not really our style but… when in Rome, right? Later on I was able to meet up with one of my roommates when I interned in DC last summer! I haven’t seen her since last year and it was great to catch up with her and meet her friends. We stayed at the same place the whole night, again listening to a country cover band. I only knew a small handful of songs all night but I still had fun dancing and talking with them!

From left to right: Kayla, Jordan and I. Jordan was my DC roomie and Kayla is her good friend!

One of the singers of the band we listened and danced to. They weren't bad... for being country ;)

Today was all about whiskey distillery tours! More

Down Home Cookin’

Current Location: Bowling Green, KY
Distance Traveled Today: 518 miles/ ~9.5 hours

Okay, seriously. Whose idea was it to take this road trip again? Who decided that it would be a good idea to spend 10 hours in the car whilst stuffing our faces with delicious Southern comfort food? This trip will either be the best idea or the worst idea ever, but as I sit here in my gluttonous food coma, I seem to be pretty content at the moment. Please take note of my dinner (yes, I totallly WAS that out-of-tonwer) and tell me you wouldn’t feel the same! Top this delicious meal off with homemade rolls with cinnamon butter (yes, I said cinnamon butter, and yes it’s as good as it sounds!), coffee cake muffins that we were able to snag 6 more of despite confused looks from our sweet waitress, and a fruity and fun Mai Tai that hit the spot just right after a long day of travel, and I reckon it’s easy to see why my stomach is so happy right now!


Tonight's Dinner! A crabcake on a pretzel bun with brown sugar bacon so sweet it could have been dessert, and mashed potatoes with gravy so thick it looks like hot fudge. So tasty!

Today’s travels went fairly well! We left home around 6 a.m., which means we ended up in the heart of Chicago around… 8:15 a.m. Maybe not the brightest idea we’ve had, but the rush hour traffic actually wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. We were out of the city and into sprawling Indiana by 9:00 easily. We made it to Indianapolis for lunch by noon (Applebees, yum!) and to the Kentucky border a few hours later. Along the way, we noticed everything becoming substantially greener… I’m not sure things are this green back home, but it also hasn’t been that warm yet. Here, it seems like the trees can’t even contain all its green and like the color just explodes off the leaves and radiates into the air. This is a green I can taste just driving by; a lush, hearty and ripe green so vivid it makes even the fullest forests seem dull. I’ll try to take better pictures as our trip goes on, but for now this picture I snapped from the passenger seat will have to suffice.

Lush Kentucky Green

We also realized somewhere between Indianapolis and Lousiville that we had crossed into the Eastern time zone. (For the record, we were well into the Eastern time zone by the time we got to Indianapolis… whoops. Let’s just say we were too enthralled in the fascinating Indiana scenery to notice… yeah, that’s it.) But then, less than an hour later, we saw a sign alerting us that we had returned back into the Central time zone. Talk about confusing for us simple Midwestern folk! Apparently the Eastern time zone splits Kentucky and Tennessee basically in half. Bowling Green, where we are for the night, and Nashville are in the Central time zone; Knoxville (Smoky Mountains), Lexington, Louisville and Indianapolis are all in the Eastern time zone. Can you imagine living in one time zone and working in another? Or just living on the border like this? It would definitiely take some getting used to, and it’s something we’ll have to keep in mind for the rest of the trip.

Changing time zones hasn’t just messed with our minds but with our plans. In a fashion not like the Rehrauer clan, we changed our destination barely 24 hours ago and set out somewhat blindly. We didn’t think about the time difference, or things we’d want to see along the way to the Smoky Mountains. After we passed Louisville, we stopped at a Kentucky welcome center to switch drivers, stretch our legs and grab some brochures. My mom enjoys horce races so we picked up some information on Lexington, and I want to visit Mammoth Caves tomorrow so we picked up brochures with info on that tour. But we also found a few more brochures than we bargained for. Two words: Bourbon Trail! Now that I’m of-age and can (mostly) appreciate Bourbon, I was excited to visit a distillery and see how it’s made. Unfortunately, the time change and us spending a little too long at the rest stop caused us to miss our opportunity to do so. The Jim Beam distillery was less than 5 miles from the rest stop we were at, but unfortunately we arrived 5 minutes after close. Major bummer! We walked up to see if we could try to convince someone to at least let us in the gift shop pretty please? But all we found is someone asking if we wanted our passports stamped. Um, what? I know we’re from the north and that we sound like it, but really, OUR PASSPORTS?! Get out. That gave me a good laugh. At least we got a few pictures outside the distillery and can at least say we tried.

The Parentals at the Jim Beam Distillery!

As for tomorrow’s plans, we’ll backtrack a little to hit Mammoth Cave, which we missed by a few hours today (seems to be the common trend, eh?). Then we’ll head down to Nashville, perhaps stay the night, and then continue east towards the Smoky Mountains. I’ll update tomorrow hopefully! Wish us luck!