Header for Courtney’s weekly tea
An illustrated purple gaiwan filled with amber liquid
the weekly tea
zomba white pearls
from Friday Afternoon Tea
weekly tea: zomba white pearls
This tea starts with a story: close to a month ago, I kept seeing people talking about a tea kickstarter online. People would gush about the tea shop and the proprietor and how they were a great community space who made amazing teas, and every time I would go and look and prominently featured would be several blended teas that sounded amazing, but where I had to remind myself to practice restraint because I do not like blended teas, and I have tried enough of them to know this about myself.
Then the kickstarter got enough money that they unlocked a little plush tea dragon, and my restraint turned into sitting on my hands and biting my tongue because (excuse me for the all caps) A PLUSH TEA DRAGON??? Where do I sign up???? How do I sign up??? I eventually said that I had to remind myself NOT to do the thing, and then everyone told me that in fact, this lovely little tea shop that makes amazing teas and has a great community space also sold single-origin teas and had relationships with the individual farmer who produced them, and then Friday Elliott (the proprietor of said tea shop) offered to send me a tea sampler of her favorite teas, and I, a person who is unable to say no to tea, did not in fact say no to tea.
(I did back the Kickstarter, though. Plush tea dragon won out. They will be running post-kickstarter pre-sales, and so if you want a plush tea dragon, you can still obtain one as soon as the pre-sales are up, and I will try to tell you about them.)
That is how this tea got in my hands, and this tea is just swoony.
This is a tea from Malawi, and it’s just such a thoughtful and playful tea, all at once, one that is clearly made by people who understand tea craft and want to try doing something different. First, there’s the structure of the tea itself. Many high-end tea leaves, if you unfold them, contain what’s called “two leaves and a bud”: the newest leaves as they grow off the plant. These leaves are the most tender and the freshest.
This tea is made with three leaves and a bud: still fresh, still tender, but with a little more of the robustness that comes from slightly older leaves. It’s then rolled into “pearls” that resemble a freshwater pearl, or possibly a nice little cocoon. These dry in the sun to make this amazing tea.
The tea itself is smooth and sweet and satisfying, all at the same time. More than that, this tea seems to taste of summer sunshine: shimmery and buttery and bright. I took this tea through about seven separate steeps, and never got a hint of bitterness from it at any point.
Most importantly, though, this tea just helped me let go of the tension I was holding. I don’t know if it was the heat or the flavor or the action of the chemicals in the tea; I just know that I sat down to this tea feeling pretty awful and by the time I was done, I felt a sense of pervasive, genuine wellbeing in every part of my body: the feeling you get when you know that maybe things aren't going to be okay, that maybe they'll go wrong, but you'll make it through.
What a delightful experience.

spoiler alert: this next bit is about doggy health scares, so:
It’s important that you know that.
15.83 years…
Being the owner of a dog who is 15.83 years old is an emotional mixed bag. My dog is the very best boy, and that means that for 5,746 days of my life (this count is from the day I brought him home), I have been blessed with the most wonderful, loving companion that anyone could have.
We still have days (many days!) where he wants to chase the laser pointer, galloping across the back yard in the dark like there's nothing else to do. We still have days when he lets us know that today, he's feeling like a long walk, and he takes us out for a four mile jaunt. But Pele's hind legs are getting weaker. He sometimes gets confused about things. He's not as fast when he runs, and he has more days when the arthritis means he doesn't walk as far. And when he gets sick, it feels much, much scarier.
We had a little bit of a health scare with Pele on day 5,740. He had a pretty abrupt onset of intense pain so bad that he couldn’t walk or sit down. We ended up spending a bunch of time with him in the doggy ER and he got lab workups. They said words that were very bad, which I never want to hear, like “mass on liver.” I cried a lot and petted him and told him he was the best dog.
At this point, Pele has already exceeded the high end of the expected lifespan for his breed. Doggy actuarial math is cruel. Even when he is healthy and doing well, which is almost all the time, I hold my breath. When you hear “mass on liver,” it feels like the other shoe dropping. There were some worst case scenarios on board that could have meant “end of time with dog, very suddenly, very soon” and even though I know we are at the age where I should expect that, I don't want it.
Mr. Milan carrying Pele, a black and white dog, inside the doggy ER. Pele doesn't look particularly happy.
It turns out, the mass on Pele's liver is a little benign nodule that has been there since his last ultrasound two years ago (different health scare; also turned out okay after surgery) and isn't getting measurably bigger.
He is actually sick: he has pancreatitis. This is one of those illnesses where the diagnosis spans everything from “quick recovery, never to recur again” to “horrible painful death” and so it is very serious, but the prognosis is a lot better than the initial possibility.
And Pele is recovering swiftly. He was unable to walk on Thursday, willing to go very slowly on Friday, refused a walk on Saturday but wanted more outdoor time. On Sunday, he went for a (short, slow) walk. We have been letting him take it at his pace and his distance. Today (Wednesday), he went on his first 1.2 mile walk, and got up to a nice, swift trot.
I can still tell he’s not 100%. It takes him longer to warm up on a walk. He is still a little ginger when he lays down. His tummy is still a little tense when we check it. But he has bounced back really quickly, is eating and drinking well, and no longer seems to be in horrible pain.
For now, it feels like the shoe that dropped has been picked up.
The number of days we have with Pele will continue to increase. We will continue to take him out for walks, will continue to pet him and tell him he is the best boy. We will feed him low-fat treats so that he can continue to have good things in his life, and hopefully, he will get all the way better.
Every day with this best boy is a gift. Onward to the next one.
Pele sleeping on a gray, fuzzy dog bed. He is half on, half off, and looks extremely cute.

This newsletter will occasionally contain a tip jar. 
Please don't donate unless you have spare cash and nothing to do with it. If you make a donation, you will get a dog or cat picture with a little bit of narrative as thanks, which updates on a monthly-ish basis.
For this week in particular, an addition: please do not feel that your ability or desire to donate is in any way related to the care that Pele will get. We are fine. I will let people know if that ever changes in any way, but the dog is basically okay.

Note: this newsletter has changed color! 
There is a reason for that, but I will tell you later.

Until next week!
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