01 January, 2018

T2 'Packs A Peach' Tea

Photo credit:

Although an avid coffee drinker, the notion of tea as a beverage has been creeping up on me for a long time (except Chai--I've been courting Chai for a while). I used to be dazzled by the wonderful fragrances that emanated from colourful packages at the supermarket and would buy the odd flavour or two. Unfortunately, I was never wholly enchanted and these teas would sit around in my cupboard until well past their use-by dates (i.e. for many, many years), only to be eventually discarded.

I have always liked herbal teas but would only drink them when offered. People have bought me T2 teas in the past and I have tried them but was never overly impressed. Recently, however, I walked by a T2 pop-up store in Hurstville Westfield. They were having a tea sale and I saw that they had peach tea. I have been drinking terrible alternatives for years such as pre-made, sickly-sweet iced tea from the supermarket or cordial-style peach tea mixers, also packed full of sugar.

'Packs A Peach' has a fantastic fruity fragrance and flavour. I added three heaped teaspoons to around 250mL of hot water to create a mixer for a 375mL bottle. I allowed it to steep until the water had cooled down. Although I have bought the 2L T2 ice tea jug for someone as a gift, I do not own one myself. The best alternative is a coffee plunger because the mesh does not allow even the smallest tea leaf particle to end up in the mix (I have found that cylindrical teapot strainers, even those with the tiniest holes, still can).

After I 'plunged' my tea to remove the excess liquid, I poured it into a glass drink bottle and popped it in the fridge. Once cold, I added sparkling mineral water to fill the bottle. This is the most refreshing drink I've ever had during the hot months of summer; I've definitely been missing out until now! It's also great to know that this beverage is not packed full of sugar or excessive artificial ingredients.

 Photo credit: T2 tea website

I've been so impressed that I have now bought two more flavours: 'Lemon Sorbet' and 'Strawberries & Cream'. These are also fantastic as iced tea but 'Packs A Peach' is still the clear favourite. T2 teas are so unique that I will definitely be back to try more, especially in the chai range.

27 July, 2017

'Childmemory' by Michael Dugan

 'David's Willow Tree' by Susan Clark

The following poem, 'Childmemory', by Michael Dugan is filled with beautiful memories and imagery. Its environmental theme is poignant and powerful. At the time of writing, this poem is not available anywhere else on the web and is almost impossible to find in published books. However, I was able to discover that it was published in 'Poetry Australia 32: Preface to the Seventies' (1970, p. 35). I am sharing the poem because it is too wonderful to be forgotten forever. I encourage teachers to use this poem in their classrooms to explore the concepts of past, present and preservation. All credit goes to the brilliant Michael Dugan who composed this work. The year in which Dugan wrote this poem is unknown.

Down past Macartney’s farm
beyond a wilderness of waist high thistles,
willow trees caressed the creek.
We would come to the willows
along a secret path of our own making,
to leap into their feathered greenness
and, clutching handfuls of whiplike branches,
would swing, eyes closed, above the stream,
rejoicing in motion,
with the bitter taste of willow leaves in our mouths.
Later we tied a rope to the highest branch,
and riding its arc like a pendulum,
would pause at the point of timelessness; to drop,
breaking the pool’s glass surface
into ever widening sculptured circles.
One summer night I crept silent to the willows
and swung for hours, feeling the cool sweet air on my face,
watching stars reflecting in the pool,
like trolls’ eyes staring from the black water.

Returning fifteen years later,
factories pour waste into the creek,
no one remembers willow trees.

Michael Gray Dugan (1947-2006) was an Australian poet, children's writer and editor. Born in the outskirts of Melbourne, Dugan recalled writing stories and poems as a child of eight or nine. In 1968, he first published 'Crosscurrents' magazine from the Melbourne suburb of Canterbury. He also worked as poetry editor of 'Overland' magazine and served as vice-president of the Victorian Fellowship of Australian Writers. In the 1980s, he was a consultant and an editor for the Australian Institute of Multicultural Affairs. Along with his works in children's literature, Dugan had an extensive background in Australian history. He wrote numerous historical textbooks published by Macmillan Education Australia. There are over 200 book titles in Dugan's name, including factual books, fictional stories and poetry anthologies. Other publishers he wrote for include Oxford, Jacaranda, Penguin, and Hodder & Stoughton. For a more detailed overview of Dugan's contribution to Australian literature for children, please contact me at: greengiftsandcards@gmail.com

03 February, 2017

Lifou is magical...

Santal Bay, Lifou

I've just come back from Lifou in New Caledonia and it was amazing. The colour of the water around the island, which ranged from bright aqua to deep turquoise, was absolutely stunning (my camera just couldn't capture these vibrant hues). And there were butterflies everywhere...they were in the air all around you. It was like something out of a dream. 

 Butterfly at Easo, Lifou

The morning began with snorkelling in Jinek Bay. The coral was still in great condition despite the increase in tourism that Lifou has experienced in recent years. The local people have been very conscientious about looking after their marine environment, which is why I needed to purchase a pass to enter the water. After that, I visited Our Lady of Lourdes chapel at the top of the hill. Butterflies filled the skies and I took some video footage of this entrancing phenomenon. Back in the village, I ate fresh papaya and mango before heading off to see the Saint Francois Xavier village church.

 Easo village church, Lifou

Next to the church, I happened upon a sign that described a visit to a fresh water pool in a cave for $10. I wasn't sure what to expect as I descended a steep, rocky path bulging with buttress roots. At the bottom of the path, it was slippery and dark. I hadn't prepared and was wearing Havaiana thongs--it was a bit touch and go and I had to take it easy.

 Path to Cave at Easo, Lifou

There was a cave at the very bottom and other tourists were jumping into the deep, dark pool of water so I decided to give it a go. It was very invigorating and brought back childhood memories of jumping into freshwater pools in Australia. When it got a bit crowded down there, I walked back to Santal Bay and snorkelled near the wharf where I swam with a turtle for a while as it ate seaweed and intermittently came up for breaths of air. It was a fascinating sight to behold.

 Jinek Bay, Lifou

It was such a magical day. Time has not passed so slowly for me in years and it was all a bit surreal, like some kind of spiritual awakening. There is so much beauty in this world and we really need to nuture and protect it.

31 December, 2016

2016 is almost over

What a strange year 2016 has been! I'm not quite sure where all the time went and am left feeling a little perturbed. Does time really pass by more quickly the older you get? Sure seems like it. This pic, taken earlier in the year at Sydney Technology Park, represents the unknown future. It is also a reminder to self to stop banging on closed doors and walking past the open ones. 2017 brings the need for great change to certain aspects of my life and I feel positive about what can be achieved over the next 12 months. I'm actually going to attempt this thing called work-life balance. It will be a juggling act (and a completely new experience for me). It will require discipline and focus and consciousness. I just realised the other day that I have been attending the markets as a stallholder in Leura for 7 years. I told someone that it had been 5 years but when I reflected back, I realised that I started in 2010. Due to various reasons, it really is time for me to move on from this venture. I've gone from 100% attendance (5-6 times a month) to sporadic attendance due to working and living in Sydney. It is only right to let it go, thereby opening up my spot for someone else. I'm not going again until March 2017 so have a bit of time to explore other avenues. Change is in the air!