5 Favourite Tea Companies + WIP Update

Hullo, world!

Last week I wrote a post that was kind of heavy and actually took many tries for me to write…And I’m glad I did. 

But for this week, I think I’ll settle for something light and fluffy. 😉 The cherry blossoms are starting to bloom, but that’s just the timing for it to rain…I know, Vancouver weather simply sucks. Plus, it hailed last Friday. 

Anyhow. 

Today, I’ll be sharing my 5 Favourite Tea Companies! *squeals* I love drinking tea (in case you didn’t know) and usually drink at least 5 cups of tea a day. Since I’m on a Lent fast, I’m only drinking hot water as of current, but still. 

Now that the introductions are underway, let the tea party commence!

1. Murchie’s Tea & Coffee

:: Visit Murchie’s::

This is one of the older companies on the list with a history of 127 years. Since it’s Canadian/Scottish, the tea blends offer things like Canadian Breakfast, Sugar Maple, CBC Radio blends, & c. One thing I love about Murchie’s is the old tea shop feel and how one can find totally unexpected blends like Strawberry shortcake blend. 

Some of my favourite tea blends:

Canadian Breakfast | Editor’s Blend | Queen Victoria 

2. The Secret Garden Tea Company

:: Visit TSGTC::

This is an excellent tea parlour like anyone can hope for based locally! It’s one of the oldest tea houses in Vancouver located in one of my favourite areas…Kerrisdale! You can book a high tea, breakfast/lunch tea, or individual teas. It is a bit expensive, but I love the atmosphere and the special occasion feel, so it’s definitely worth it. 

3. DavidsTea

:: Visit DAVIDsTEA::

Okay, now that I looked at the list, this one’s also a Canadian tea store. But. Unlike the other tea companies on the list, this one takes a more modern approach to tea so it’s not like the traditional tea store. Plus, I just love the colourful cans and glass-jars filled with all sorts of exotic blends. 

Some of my favourite tea blends:

cream of earl grey organic | tulsi tranquility | just peachy

4. Twinnings 

:: Visit Twinnings (UK/NA)::

As many of you already know, I’m obsessed with Earl Grey tea. And since I’m obsessed, there’s no possible way I won’t mention the company which first established it. Twinnings has a history of 300+ years, and that’s almost as cool as the fact it’s practically a tea standard of sorts. (Fun Fact: Our family buys the 144 tea bag box of Earl Grey.)

Some of my favourite tea blends:

Ear Grey | Lady Grey | English Breakfast

5. Tsujiri

:: Visit Tsujiri (CA/JP)::

This store was founded in 1860 around the time of the end of the Edo era and shogunate. I didn’t have a chance to visit when I was in Japan, but it recently came to Canada! 

One thing I love about Tsujiri is the deep authentic taste of Japanese tea. I’m kind of picky about green tea here (which is why I cringe when I find people have blended green tea with something else). With Tsujiri, I can be sure to get the dark, rich flavour I’ve been craving. They also have tea-infused sweets and food which is just amazing. 

Some of my favourite tea blends:

O-matcha | Houjicha Latte | Sencha


*End tea-rant*

I hope I’ve done each tea company justice to convince you to drink more tea. If not, I guess I’ll force-feed you tea next week. *inserts evil laughter*

Anyhow. 

WIP Update

I’ve been kind of all over the place with my WiPs as of late and kind of wanted to apologise for that. I mean, I don’t need to, but I don’t like confusion and I’m just going to assume you don’t, either. (If you’re the kind of person who lives for chaos, this has nothing to do with you.) 

Recap of Months 1, 2, and 3

January–I was writing my secret project ™ which I revealed (sort of) to be titled Osthauptstadt. Wrote the 0.5 draft to halfway point of 25K and left it to stew. 

February–I wanted to write something fluffy and not as serious as my previous WIP, so I switched gears to Elijacomb 17. I wrote 10K in addition to the 11K I had, bridging the 0.5 draft total to 21K. Very happy with what I’ve written. 

March–I started out brainstorming for another secret project involving homeschoolers, tea, and superpowers, but realised I had to type out last MeNoWriMo’s handwritten draft (aka Woodstone, 05 draft)…which is what I’m doing now. I also printed out Zwei from Juliet and began some edits. 

So that’s kind of where I’m at. Although I feel all over the place, looking at it this way makes me realise I hadn’t been wasting my time or anything. (I know, that’s the grand revelation we come to.) I’m still kind of on the fence whether I should do Camp NaNo this year or not, but last year I got solid wordcounts in for Woodstone and would like to do that, so I guess I’m leaning into doing it. Not on the website, though. (If you’re curious about this, read this post I did last October.) 

And I guess what I wanted to say is, even though a quarter of this year’s already past, you’ll probably find that you’ve actually accomplished much if you look back. Until I did this WIP Update, I didn’t realise I got a lot done already. I thought I was kind of flitting to and fro and meandering between projects (which is true to some extent) , not getting much done. 

But I was. 

And it reminds me that it’s important we know where we are in life, where we’re heading, and whether or not we’re at a place God wants us to be. Maybe you didn’t get things done you thought you would. Maybe you’re a little burnt out already. Wherever you are, try to take a moment to reflect on the year 2021 so far. I promise you, it will help you find your footing. 

And that’s it for today! 

Thank you for reading! What did you think? Do you have any favourite tea company? Do you like drinking tea? How is life going for you so far? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

AH: 5 Truths to Remind Yourself On Painful Writing Days

Hullo, world!

The weather is starting to warm up, the cherry blossoms are starting to open up, and rain days are diminishing by the week…it’s starting to look like spring! Without a  doubt, spring is my favourite season of the year. In Japan, it’s also the start of a new school year–so I guess that also reminds me of new beginnings. Plus, we have Easter and my Christian birthday…spring is absolutely the best

But enough about me gushing about spring. 

Today, we’re back for our monthly Author Health series. For those of you who don’t know, it’s the week I look at stigmas surrounding writing and mental health and offer tips/encouragement that worked for me. 

Our topic today is *da-dun!* 5 Truths to Remind Yourself On Painful Writing Days!

We all have one of those days when you’re facing a blank screen or a black screen filled with what you deem ‘trash’. Or your mind is scrambling around busily conveying all the wonderful ideas you have  in your head, except you can’t seem to process it enough to turn into words. Or worse yet, you spend all of your precious writing time scrolling through Pinterest and Instagram feeds. And you think, Why is this so hard? Why is writing so…painful??

Which is where I come in with truths about writing. 🙂

1. Writing takes time.

This, I find, is actually a huge truth we tend to miss by the kilometre. (Yes, it’s that highway sign you were supposed to be on watch for and totally missed.) Writing is a task of arranging 26 letters into words that make sentences that set the mood, music, paint, and animate all at the same time. No wonder it might take some time!

I know a while back, I did a post on Stephen King’s On Writing. If you’ve read it, or know anything about his writing habit, it’s that the man writes fast. Like, insanely fast. Or maybe we can say he’s the guru of writing almost everyday. 

Which I’ve tried, and it works to set a routine, but I still realised this: Writing still takes time, even if I write everyday. Sure, you might get down word counts faster. But that doesn’t mean it’s polished. As a whole, writing is a business that takes lots of energy and time. It’s okay if you’ve been writing the same book for the past five years. Donna Tartt, the author of The Secret History and The Goldfinch (a Pulitzer winner) took ten years to write just one book. 

The editing process be like:

2. You’re the only one who can write this book.

The second most common trap a writer falls into is comparison. Once upon a time, I was a happy-go-lucky writer who paid no attention whatsoever to how other people wrote, or when they got published. I would come across articles about comparison and think, “Well, that has nothing to do with me!”

Needless to say, I was wrong. 

The more I grow as a writer, the more I reach my milestones and word counts and project goals, the more I should, in theory, gain confidence. And don’t get me wrong, I did gain confidence, too. But at the same time, I also realised there’s a lot of writers out there. 

You start to realise that there are genres you lean towards, and stories that sound a lot like yours. While before you were proud of your little darling WIP, now you may hesitate to introduce your WIP to the world of writers out there, nervous it won’t receive the novel attention you thought it would attract. 

Yet the truth remains: No matter how similar a story may be, you’re the only one who can write your story. Why? Well, there’s only one of you. No one else here on this earth has gone through the experiences you went through, lived with the exact same culture, grew up with the exact same people around you. And that’s why your story, however similar it feels, will always be different. 

Writers lying in wait for good ideas.
There goes my inspiration!

3. There will be someone out there who’s dying to read your book. 

And yes, I will say this on the pain of sounding cliché: There are 7.8 billion people on mother earth. There will be at least one person in there who’s dying to read your book. Just think about that. 

Someone out there waiting for your book

4. It’s okay to write for yourself.

That being said, I think one of the things I tend to forget is that a first draft is always written for myself. I have a habit of dedicating a book to my Ideal Reader before I start any project, but it’s perfectly fine if that IR is yourself. 

For me, I was writing Juliet before my depression, through it, and after it. It’s influenced my life in more ways than I can count. 

And then there’s Elektriem and Woodstone. Those were the two projects I worked the hardest on when my college plans fell apart. By writing these stories, I was able to reconcile with myself that it’s okay to let go. It wasn’t admitting defeat (something every overachiever Asian should know), and it wasn’t running away. Sometimes you just had to let things be, let go and let God work in your life. 

Waiting for ramen…me, always and forever 🙂

5. The only way to go is forward. 

Lastly, writing is always moving forward. Even when you’re stuck in this excruciating rut of a slump, or just a day when everything you write comes out wrong, everything you put into your writing helps you move forward, not backward. That time you spent staring at the blank screen furiously going over fictional conversation? It’s called visualising what you’re going to write. That time you think you wasted scrolling through Pinterest? It’s called worldbuilding and getting a precise picture of your story. 

Writers write, even when they’re not writing. And that, my dears, is the beauty of being a writer. 

What did you think? Do you have “painful writing days”? What are some ways you remind yourself writing is worth it? What is the biggest thing you learnt as a writer? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

February Afternoon Tea w/ SJ + The Liebster Award

Good afternoon!

It’s that time of the month again, except February is a special one…it’s been officially one year since I began the Afternoon Tea series! *inserts fanfare and cheers and  confettis* 

Reading back from February a year ago, I can’t believe how so many things changed. Also, I really want to go back in time and hug myself circa 2020. It’s okay, me. You’ll get through this. *ends self-care session*

Today, we’ll go back to the cabin in the mountains, except it’s howling outside. There’s a warm fire crackling in the huge fireplace, there’s plenty of blankets and pillows to go around, and from the sunroom in the back, we can see nothing but whiteness. There are little potted plants on the window sills with name tags that read: Oliver, Calder, Amity, and John 9th. We’ve got an assortment of fruit tea, macaroons, and yoghurt cakes with berries. 

Are you ready? 

Here we go…

Mini-February Update

I’m drinking berry tea with a side of boxed macaroons set. And if you’re wondering why today it’s a mini update, it’s because I was tagged for the Liebster Award! So obviously, I’ve got to leave some room at the end. 

Bibliotheca 

This month was a really weird reading month. I read 13 books, which is significantly less than my reading goal, but February is short. I also have been ditching my Omnibus list and haven’t finished them all…But, I did meet other great books, and Canterbury tales is seriously graphic like it should be labelled R18 so all’s well that ends well. I’m currently juggling between Special Topics in Calamity Physics, The Travels of Marco Polo, and The Iliad. 

Academics 

I actually have zero memory of what happened academically…wait, now that I think about it, lots have happened. 

First. 

I applied to one of the universities under visual arts but had forgotten about it, and got a notice a week before the deadline to submit my portfolio. The only serious art I’ve done was back in 10th grade, and everything after that was lieu manga style which wasn’t accepted, so I had to scramble and put together something that hopefully screamed MODERN ART!!!

Second. 

I have a driver’s test coming up at the beginning of March and have been practising for evah. I failed the last two tests, but BC is super strict because you should see us all driving yet I hope I’ll make it this time around. Super stressed, but I think that’s normal. 

Writing 

Because I was suddenly busy conjuring up art portfolios, mashing up artist statements, trying to ignore my less than perfect transcript, learning to drive like I have confidence &c., writing has been slow for the month. I wrote a grand total of 10K in Elijacomb, but it’s a middle grade and why should I take it too seriously? 

Yes, I landed there. 

Sometimes, the best thing to do is to not take your writing seriously. 

So I promptly hurled my WIP out the window and began a new and shiny idea ™. I know, sacrilegious, but we all must make ends meet. 

Life

Life has been pretty normal. My mental health has improved greatly now that I take a lengthy time each morning for personal devotions. Oh, and I went skiing, which was fun! I was telling my mom and sister how bad I am skiing and on the day they were like: “You betrayed our trust!” Which was kind of funny. I did think I couldn’t ski well. 


With that being said, care to refill your cup? How about Mandarin orange and honey tea? Or raspberry green tea? Better yet, try this lavender macaroon. It’s absolutely gorgeous. 

Okay, now that we’re settled, let’s move on to the Liebster award segment! 

The Rules:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you. (Thanks, Ariella!)
  • Answer the eleven questions he/she asked.
  • Nominate eleven more bloggers for the award.
  • Make sure they know you nominated them.
  • And ask your eleven nominated bloggers eleven questions.

The Questions:

1. What is your current favourite book/series, and why?

I’ve got to say, A Series of Unfortunate Events and All the Wrong Questions. My obsession with Lemony Snicket started around October last year, and ever since I can’t seem to stop advertising his books. I guess I’m into noir children’s lit??

I really, really want to watch the TV series as well…

2. What are your favourite genres to read and write?

Are you telling me to cut off my limbs?? 

Jokes aside, I’ve been re-reading my WIPs as of late and have come to this startling discovery: All of my stories have some sort of conspiracy and academia vibes in them. Also, ever since I found out dark academia was a thing, I’ve been going down that road. Considering everything, I think I like literary fiction of any genres, and especially books with lots of conspiracy and dark organisations with classy vibes. Go figure. 

3. What is your favourite fandom?

Narnia, for starters…And I’ve got to say, Marvel, even though I haven’t watched all the movies yet and started the movies from Endgame (I know, that’s not how you’re supposed to do it). 

Also, Anne with an E even though it has several problems with it. The casting was perfect, and I’m so sad they’re not continuing with it. Like, how come they never, ever, make it to Anne of the Island??? That’s the best part, y’all. 

This Marilla, tho. You just can’t help it. XD

4. Would you rather bring one of your characters to this world for a day or visit your favourite book world for a day?

Visit my fav. book world in a heartbeat. Why should I miss an opportunity to get to Narnia?

Me: Never miss a chance to get to Narnia.

5. What is your favourite kind of character to write or read about?

I love reading/writing intelligent and bent characters. Or weird ones. (It tells you already what kind of person I really am.)

6. Do you prefer coffee or tea? (Or something else?)

Tea forever. There’s a reason I host tea parties every month. 😉

7. Would you rather be really good at one specific talent or average at a wide variety of talents? Why?

I want to be really good at one specific talent, because that’s what having a spike is about…(I legit cried about not having a strong spike when I was applying to university last year. It still kind of haunts me.) Plus, being a genius in one thing and terrible at other things makes for a great story. 🙂

8. What is your passion in life?

One, Jesus, two, the Bible, three, stories. Also homeschoolers. Recently I discovered I’m mental about promoting homeschooling and helping fellow homeschoolers out. 

9. Do you have any “unusual” talents or hobbies?

Hmm…is it weird I self-host various campaigns starting with Eat Ramen Once a Week © and ending with Learn Alchemy and Canadian history? (War of 1812!!)

Or I guess being a violist is “unusual”. Or fighting in karate tournaments? Or…

This guy needs a proper hobby.

10. Would you rather live in a desert or a snowy region for the rest of your life?

Snowy region. And yes, I’m Canadian, you’re welcome. 

Except, I grew up with the temperate Tokyo climate.

11. Can you think of a movie adaptation that is better than the book?

Oof, I don’t know–why yes, I do know. Feel free to disagree with me all you want, but the Prince Caspian movie totally rocks. I mean, reference the BBC version and you’d know. 

The Nominees:

  1. Jenna Terese
  2. Kenechi Duatron
  3. Writing for Christ
  4. Bella Putt
  5. Emma Starr
  6. Mere Colloquials
  7. Eden
  8. Bree Dawn
  9. Ash Ronnel
  10. Jai Lynn
  11. Julia Witmer

My Questions:

  1. Would you rather be smart or beautiful?
  2. Are you a paper book reader, an e-book reader, or an audiobook reader?
  3. Winter sports or summer sports?
  4. If you could invite a book character for tea, who would you call on? 
  5. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve done in your life? 
  6. Would you rather write an epic or a series of tanka?
  7. If you were a book, what genre would you be?
  8. Train or bus? 
  9. If you had to spend the rest of your life as a car, which car would you be? 
  10. Who is most likely to murder you in your sleep? 
  11. Which author would you write a  love-letter to and why? 

Wow, that was long! Thank you for reading thus far. 

How was your February? What were some highlights of the month? A favourite read? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!