Tea Review

Tea Talk: Athena Blend – Adagio Tea

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(Not thrilled with that picture. My apologies, my loves!)

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Name: Athena Blend
Flavors: Almond oolong, green chai, blueberry
Book Pairing: The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller

(This blend was given to me courtesy of Adagio Teas in exchange for an honest review.)

Fun fact of shame: I hate green tea. Hate it. Hate it. And I wish I didn’t because green tea has so many health benefits but for whatever reason, I can’t get into green tea.

And then I met this blend.

This blend is so light and calming. You really get the tang of the blueberry with every sip but it isn’t at all an overpowering flavor. I drank it hot but I might just have to ice it next time – I can absolutely see it being refreshing on a hot day (and this autumn has already been way too hot for my tastes).

I’m very guilty at taking a few sips of tea and then forgetting about it. This cup, I downed in a few minutes. It was just that good that I couldn’t let it sit for too long. I was really uncertain about trying this one. The flavors are not at all something I’d usually go for. In the end, this blend ended up being one of my favorites.

Take a risk with this one, my friends. Be warned, the site says that it does have a rather high caffeine content. Probably shoulda checked that before I made a cup at 9:30 at night with work the next day. Whoops. But let’s face it, this tea might make staying up until 4 am worth it.

You might also want to take a risk with the above book. I first read it a few years ago but I might have to reread it to write about it here. If you’re at all a fan of mythology, you’ll love this look into the relationship between Achilles and (one of my personal faves) Patroclus.

Have a great week, my loves. A book review and some more tea reviews are headed your way this week!

Essay, Ramblings

The Hero Complex and the Importance of Representation in Young Adult Literature

Whilst I make my way through some good reads (and reread some old favorites sorry couldn’t resist whoops), I’ve got some thoughts.

I’ve seen a lot of criticism lately about the hero protagonist in young adult literature. While I want to say that I get the criticism, I don’t. Sure, we need to celebrate our run-of-the-mill characters. Our average-Joes. I’m not saying they should be ignored.

What I am saying, however, is that all teenagers and all young adults and, honestly, all humans are the heroes of their own stories. Why can’t they be written as such?

There are young people in the world *raises hand* who suffer from mental illness. We struggle with our minds. Like Jacob wrestling the angel, we are in constant battle for control over something that should be so simple — our brains and our own thoughts. And yet, we have unpredictable moments of weakness. We have moments where we hear these voices that tell us how unimportant we are. How replaceable we are. How burdensome we are.

And then there are books. I think of how there are books in this world and I sigh with relief. I can’t begin to list how many books have saved me. Book lovers abuse books so often, too! We let them sit on our shelves for years and years and years to collect dust and wait and pine for us. Like a loyal dog, they’re still there waiting for us, even after we’ve cheated on them with newer, prettier, thicker tomes.

Okay, Lauren. We get it. What does this have to do with heroic protagonists?

Ever go to a Harry Potter midnight premiere? (Aww, remember those days?) People dressed up. People carried wands. People proudly wore their house colors and showed off their collected merchandise. And every single nerd attending that movie and/or book release felt immortal. We felt powerful. We felt brave. And we understood how valuable we were.

Harry Potter was the Boy Who Lived. He was special at Hogwarts. It didn’t matter that he lived under the stairs in his muggle world. Here, in this new and magical place, he was revered and irreplaceable.

And so too are the young people reading these books.

Being a young adult is hard enough. You’re stuck between being an adult and being a kid and so others either treat you as though you have to carry the world on your shoulders or as though you’re the one who needs to be carried. Add a feeling of invisibility, a sense of insignificance, and the rising diagnoses of mental illness and it’s clear to see that students are in need of some reassurance and comfort.

While I applaud students who seek out literature that is beyond their reading level (I was totes that kid. Let’s face it, I’m still that kid.), they should have an option to read — well, whatever they want, really. I’m sure students can find heroes in classic literature. I remember feeling inspired by Jane Eyre and her independence as a young(er) reader. It’s possible.

But imagine a reader picking up Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe after they’ve begun to identify as someone on the LGBTQ+ spectrum.

Imagine a reader who has only seen white heroes in the media finally finding someone who looks like her in The Wrath and the Dawn series.

Imagine a reader feeling incredibly anxious and depressed due to recent events involving police brutality and coming across The Hate U Give.

The protagonists don’t even need to be wand-wielding wizards to be the heroes of their stories (although, have you read El DeafoNot enough people are talking about a graphic novel about the beloved deaf superhero). And when students begin to see books as a mirror into their own worlds, they respond in a far more positive way. These books stick. And when books stick, we create better readers.

Let’s create a world of better, more inclusive books.

All right. Enough of my ramblings. I’ve been under the weather the past couple of days so expect a lot of tea reviews this weekend.

Like, a lot.

Keep reading, my loves.

Tea Review, Uncategorized

Tea Talk: Decaf Hazelnut Cinnamon Creme from Adagio

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Are you guys ready for my first five-star review?

Because IT’S HERE.

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The tea in that lovely cup above is Adagio’s Decaf Hazelnut Cinnamon Creme. Isn’t that color beautiful? I may have gasped a little.

Anecdote time. There’s a tea house in the next town over that has pretty much an entire menu of tea. The first time I went, I tried a tea called Pralines & Creme. I fell head over heels in love with this tea and every single time I went back, I ordered it again and again.

Until one day when they said, “Oh, I’m sorry, we’re out of that.”

And then the next time I went, it was off the menu completely. My heart broke and I’m not exaggerating when I say that I google ‘pralines & cream tea’ about once every thirty seconds.

This tea? Tastes so similar to that tea that I once fell in love with. The only thing is, this tea is better. First of all, the moment you pour it into your cup, the aroma that hits you is so lovely and wonderful and reminiscent of a low-key café. You get that scent of hazelnut immediately and I can’t begin to express how comforting of a smell that is.

Sometimes, you smell something before you taste it and the taste is kind of a let-down. Not the case here. It’s so full-bodied and rich and you really get every note of every ingredient promised in the title. Speaking of which, I take my tea with nothing. No sugar, no milk, no cream, nothing. And yet, this tea had such a creamy consistency that I may have been hugging my cup the entire time I was drinking it.

Not to put down bagged tea but this loose leaf was so flavorful and inviting that I realized, in my laziness and my reliance on bagged tea, I had forgotten why I loved tea in the first place. This tea reminded me the moment I opened the bag, took in that hazelnut scent, and saw the pop of yellow in the marigold leaves sitting in my tea. Beautiful to look at and heaven to drink, this tea will absolutely become a staple in my home.

Have I waxed poetic enough? Honestly, I can’t recommend this tea enough. Adagio has a really awesome subscription plan where you can choose your favorite teas and they will automatically send them to you. To ensure I never run out of this tea again, I may have to subscribe.

What are we drinking today, my friends? Share it here and don’t forget to:

  1. Check out Adagio, especially their fandom blends. They’re amazing.
    and
  2. Enter my giveaway on Instagram! You’ve got about a month to enter!
Giveaway

Hooray for YA Annual Giveaway!

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It’s here!

So I have the best birthday in the world. October 13th happens to be, according to Parks and Rec, Treat Yo’ Self Day. So on my birthday, I like to treat a follower to a special prize bundle. You will receive:
– A $25 tea voucher courtesy of @adagioteas. A big thank you to them!! (They’re the best, please check them out.)
– A bath bomb of your choice from @lushcosmetics.
– The candle of your choice from @frostbeardmpls.
– The book of your choice below $15 from Book Depository.
– And a one month subscription to @pagehabit – each box goes to helping child literacy!
TO ENTER:
Comment on my Instagram image with how you plan to treat yo’ self on October 13th.
– You must be following me on Instagram.
– A bonus entry if you follow me here on le blog.
– A bonus entry for tagging friends. One bonus entry per tag.

DISCLAIMER:
– Aside from Adagio, I am providing all the materials in this giveaway. Don’t sue me. I’m pretty poor.
– This giveaway is open to people in North America only. Lo siento. Check back, I do another giveaway later that’s open internationally.
– You must be 18 or older.
– You must be willing to share your address with me so I can send you your prize.
– As so much of this is based on what you want, please understand it may take a while as I need to order items first.
That’s it! Best of luck!

Book Review

Book Review: Tash Hearts Tolstoy

 

DSC_0774Tash Hearts Tolstoy
Written by Kathryn Ormsbee
Published by Simon & Schuster
Page count: 367
Tea Pairing: Yerba Mate for those times when Tash needed a meditative moment. New to yerba mate? Try this sampler from Adagio to find your favorite. And don’t forget – there’s a honey sale going on as we speak!

Natasha Zelenka, nicknamed Tash, is an aspiring film creator. With the help of her best friends and some willing novice actors, Tash produces a webseries titled Unhappy Families based off of one of her favorite Tolstoy novels. It’s her dreamto go to Vanderbilt and study filmmaking. And when her webseries gets a shout-out from a popular YouTuber and a nomination for a Golden Tuba Award, her dream is likely to become a reality.

Even better, her nomination means she has a chance at meeting fellow YouTuber Thom Causer, a boy she’s been flirting with since they discovered each other’s channels. But can she keep her friends as her focus shifts to her successful webseries? And how will Thom react to her confession that she’s a romantic asexual?

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I’ll be honest, this book is a little slow in the beginning. It took a while for me to get into it.

(Which, after the fact, I found a little cute because you know what other books take a while to get into? Literally anything Tolstoy has ever written.)

But once you get into it, there are so many beautiful things about this book:

  • An asexual protagonist. Let me repeat for the people in the back. An asexual protagonist. I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book with an asexual protagonist and her story is so accurate. Her confession of her sexuality (confessionS, actually, as people who come out never really come out once) is often met with confusion and misunderstanding and sometimes even anger. But we have something wonderful here. Tash sticks to her guns and never once sacrifices her happiness or her comfort for a boy. She knows who she is, she spent a long time getting there, and her message is that you should never sacrifice yourself for someone else. Such a great message for teens.
  • The theme of friendship and family. Ormsbee has every reason to let Tash pursue her dreams and leave behind everyone she knows, especially when things in her family grow tense. But Ormsbee lets her readers know that it’s so much braver and better to stick with the ones you love.
  • The message that our idols aren’t perfect. Yeah, Tash hearts Tolstoy (it’s right there in the title). But one of my favorite scenes includes her admitting that in all actuality, Tolstoy was a pretty crappy guy. Perhaps that’s why I had trouble getting into this book. Tash would wax poetic about how amazing Tolstoy was and I knew better. That scene was such a moment of redemption for me and it doubles as a great message for readers.

Ormsbee’s book truly surprised me in the end. I’m going to miss this one. And I really wish there was a Tea Time with Tash vlog because I would totally watch it.

(Let’s face it, I’d watch Unhappy Families too.)

Give this one a try. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Read on, my friends!