Thursday, October 24, 2013

My Teacup Runneth Over

While on a weekend adventure in Port Angeles, we went to the best little coffee shop in town, The Blackbird Coffeehouse, to have some pre-hike refreshments. Rich ordered a drip coffee or something with a concentrated dose of caffeine, while I opted for a cup of tea. The tea was uncommonly good and it was referred to as "Sweet Mint". It was a loose-leaf tea and the paper infuser it was in was anchored in the cup and stayed there as we drove up to Hurricane Ridge and beyond.

After making it to Obstruction Point without too much cringing from exposure or from the near head-on collision with an inattentive driver, we thought we should get out of the car and actually hike. It was cold and rain had been forecast for everywhere, including Sequim, the rainshadow capitol of the PNW and previously referred in a statement about the ever-present sunshine, "It's sunny in Sequim!".  In spite of the impending doom, we zipped up our rain gear to protect against the cold wind and headed out on the Grand Ridge Trail.

While I had been planning to re-create a hike that Rich had been on years before, one that would start two groups of hikers at either end of this ridge, they would meet in the middle and exchange keys, then hike to their friends' cars and reunite elsewhere (perhaps some tea and coffee?), thus allowing the hikers to all hike the length of the ridge without the mess of a car shuttle. But the Forest Service had other plans; they were going to close this road in just a couple of days to do some maintenance before the winter snows set in. Without the luxury of a key exchange, Rich and I were just doing the same-old out-and-back hike.

The trail started out steeply and with shale, so that it was more of a goat path which reminded me of the hike to Easy Pass in the N Cascades. But soon, the way became more trail-like, leveling off and we even had a few views, though the clouds were closing in. The immediate landscape was something like the moors of Scotland or the interior of Iceland; we were transported off the continent for the afternoon.

The rain started slowly, sneaking in and trying to trap us up on the ridge. Imagining the drive on the exposure-laden gravel road, I willed myself to turn back to the car. The tea was still in the car, with the tea leaves still immersed in water, now cold. But I was thirsty and I took a sip. Instead of a bitter sourness which often comes from over-brewed tea, my mouth was welcomed with a sweet, intense drink. The tea had only improved with time. I had to find out more about this tea, so we left Obstruction Point to head back to Blackbird.

And so began my quest for the "Sweet Mint" tea, which is made by Rishi in lovely Wisconsin. There is no tea by that name, but they have many teas that are enticing (Turmeric Ginger, White Ginseng Detox) which is how it came to be that my cupboards are stocked to the brim with several different varieties of Rishi tea, as well as a few other brands thrown in for good measure. I even purchased a glass double-walled tumbler with a built-in infuser so I can take my favorite tea, Mystic Mint, on the road.