Geeks, Girls, and Pen Pals

Written by Arielle F.
These last several weeks have been a blur. New friendships, new experiences, and I have found a use for my Twitter account, which I previously used mostly for cross-posting from my Instagram feed and following random people. I think I’ve doubled my tweet count in a matter of weeks.

Nancy is the one who first introduced me to the International Geek Girl Pen Pals Club. She’s always discovering the cool stuff, and I adore her for that. Things started getting a little crazy after the first few days and we both registered for pen pals and the excitement truly began. Also, much anxiety. What sorts of pen pals would we get? Where would they be from? How would we be matched? Would we get along?

After we got our pair-ups, my pen pal emailed me first thing with her address. London! You can imagine my elation. So we swapped addresses and I began my stationery hunt. I could write a bit of a tirade on that, but it would take way too long. Let’s just say, cute, lined paper stationery is hard to find in this area. If you see any, buy it. Then, you can laugh at me while I cry in the corner. After giving up and dissecting a journal so I could use the colorful paper inside, I wrote an eight page letter and sent it off to London! Next, I’m sending a package with lots of Texas goodies. It was supposed to have been sent already, but I am hunting for a good box. That’s important.

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Tasting Tea with Nerds

Written by Arielle F.
A few months ago, I joined a meetup group for nerds in Houston on a quest to meet some nerds and make new friends. At the group’s first ever meetup, it became clear that many of us were into tea, so I was thrilled to find out the group’s third meetup was a tea tasting at Path of Tea.

Path of Tea is an organic tea shop nestled in the Upper Kirby area of Houston, the only completely organic tea shop in Houston. As I have never seen another organic tea shop in Houston other than this one, I suppose I’ll have to believe it, though I do hope more tea shops follow this trend. As much tea as I drink, it’s nice to know IMG_5957.jpgmy leaves aren’t infused with pesticides.

Heading to this meetup, I didn’t know what to expect. I know what tea tastes like. At this point, I’m no longer a level one newbie. I’ve gained enough experience to level up to amateur tea drinker at the least. I do have a silver level two Explorer badge on Adagio. That means I have purchased more than enough tea from them for the time being and my husband, Brandon, wants to put a ban on my account. To be shown the different types of teas by someone whose whole livelihood is based on tea, well that’s something else. We weren’t just given a cup of tea and told, “Okay, here’s a green tea. Yummy, yes?” We were given each type of tea and given an explanation, not just about the tea and how it’s made, but about what the tea does for you, health-wise (tea gives enough health benefits that I’ll have to discuss that in a few posts later on), and the proper way to brew it. Going in, I already knew things about different water temperatures. I IMG_5969.jpgknew that you had to brew white tea at a lower temperature than green tea and green at a lower temperature than black, but this tea tasting gave me something entirely different to think about: the type of water I use.

One of the main things I’ve heard about brewing tea is to use a good quality water. In an effort to brew more tea at work, which would allow me to re-steep leaves throughout the day, I bought a small teapot and a refillable glass water jug filled with reverse osmosis water from my local Whole Foods. I figured I might as well use nice, clean, filtered water. The teapot and glass jug work great. The water, however, hasn’t been very satisfying when it comes to the taste of my tea. It may be due to my own personal tastes, but I don’t like it. It gave the tea a terrible flavor. You know when you leave Continue reading

Confessions of a (Former) Coffee Drinker

Coffee has always been king in my family.

From the legendary chicory brew of Cafe du Monde to Seaport–a Southern arabica coffee we purchased in bulk for my grandfather–coffee has been a staple in both my childhood and well into college.

My first memories of coffee come from my father’s morning and evening routines. I always hung around my father when he was making coffee, just so I could retrieve the coffee canister from the second shelf of the fridge. This was my favorite part. That dry, aromatic puff when the corner of the lid was popped, the cold of the little plastic scoop against your fingers. Measuring out exactly 2 scoops into the basket, watching the machine as it gurgled and hissed and brought forth the black ichor of life. The same procedure followed in the evening, though with one scoop of coffee instead of two. Never decaf.

I was only allowed to sniff the carafe in the beginning, until I graduated to a demitasse cup with ¾ parts cream and ¼ part coffee. By high school I was drinking a cup of coffee in the morning with my father, and in college this amount nearly tripled.

It wasn’t until 2007 that I was properly diagnosed with a condition I’d had since I was a girl–gastroesophageal reflux disease: more commonly known as acid reflux or chronic heartburn. If you have never experienced heartburn, then I could never adequately describe the genuine agony the condition can create. The major contributing factor to the condition? DIET. You can see where this is going.  Continue reading

Tea and Me. Arielle’s Backstory.

Written by Arielle F.
I don’t come from a family of tea drinkers. My dad drank Folger’s instant coffee for the longest time, moved up to Keurig Donut Shop nowadays. My mom drank Caffeine-Free Diet Coke, graduating to a drink regimen consisting of a specific type of hot chocolate and Diet Coke from Sonic because they have the good ice.

I grew up in a small city in Central Texas. Here in the South, you get your tea iced and one of two ways, sweet or unsweet. Ask for hot tea in a restaurant and you get lukewarm water and a tea bag to dip in it. I didn’t get much exposure to good tea in my early days.

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Danbo peers into the teapot with a look I might have had as a child. A look of bewilderment.

Raised on a steady diet of Kool-Aid and sodas, I shunned iced tea because my mom told me it would make me pee too much. I just think she had a grudge against tea because she didn’t like it. During my all-night World of Warcraft raids in college, I consumed enough Mountain Dew Game Fuel to make my roommate want to strangle me. Other times, I visited the campus Starbucks, but coffee has always had a tendency to give me stomach issues. Once, I tried a Monster and thought I was going to have a heart attack. I had to go for a jog around the library to get rid of the jitters.

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One of the teapots used at Té House of Tea. Photo taken during National Novel Writing Month.

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