Tag Archives: kentucky

Tea Party Tuesday: Elmwood Inn Lung Ching Green

A couple years ago, I started hearing about this place in Danville, Kentucky, serving world-class teas. Like pilgrimage-worthy teas. Person after person told me about this family who had started a tea room in a historic house, which then took off big time, so much so that they had to close said tea room to meet international demand for their amazing teas. Finally, when my friend Stuart, a local historian and expert on the Boyle County area, recommended it to me, I got in the car.

If you are not from Kentucky, which I suspect you are not, this is probably not particularly noteworthy information to you. If you are from Kentucky, I can hear what you’re thinking, which is probably something along the lines of, “k.” Danville is small, very small. We’re talking low five-figure population small.  The idea that it could sustain a world-class tea shop seems crazy. Hell, the idea that it would even have a tea shop is, in and of itself, unlikely.

But not only is there this lovely shop, but this lovely shop is so popular with locals and visitors alike that all three times I’ve gone, there’s been a line to get tea. The secret of the super-nice, extremely well-informed, low-key Richardson family is out, and for good reason: they’ve got an amazing product and they are willing to talk to you about it for as long as you’re interested.

They’ve got a whole range of historical teas (be still my heart) that I’ll tell you about at a later date, but for now, let’s talk about the Lung Ching Green I picked up on a recent visit.



Look at that! This is the platonic ideal of green tea, if we want to get right down to brass tacks. It’s a classic pan-roasted Chinese green tea and it’s got a simple, earthy taste I love things like it to have. It’s also really pretty; check out how nice those leaves look! You can tell it’s high quality because of how flat and light the leaves are (that’s usually a good indicator with dragon well teas; lower quality ones will often have darker, less uniform leaves). I got three good cups of tea out of this and it stood up really nicely to multiple steepings. The flavor developed differently every time I added more water rather than collapsing and becoming sadder and more faded.

In keeping with the meeting-you-where-you-are ethos of the Elmwood Inn tea experience, this is an easy to make, easy to drink tea that has simple-to-follow prep instructions printed right on the label, making it ideal for a novice tea drinker who just wants to dip a toe into the uh, kettle of very hot tea water? That metaphor fell apart, but bottom line: this is a great tea if you’re new  to tea and want to try a clear-cut example of a near-perfect green tea, but it’s also wonderful if you’ve got a more developed tea palate because it’s just…really good drinking.

This Lung Ching green tea is available on their website (or in person at their adorable shop!) for $12.95/4 ounces.

Have you been to the Elmwood Inn shop? Read any of their great books about tea? Do you have a recommendation for an out-of-the-way tea shop for me? Tell me all about it! I’m listening.

The Big 3 at the Kentucky Derby

Jimmy Winkfield, the first and only black jockey to win the Kentucky Derby, which he did in 1901 and 1902.

Jimmy Winkfield, the first and only black jockey to win the Kentucky Derby, which he did in 1901 and 1902.

A cultural anthropologist told me once that a look at jockeys and boxers will tell you who occupies the lowest rungs of American society– Irishmen gave way to black Americans who in turn gave way to recent Latino immigrants. I don’t know if I buy that theory totally, but it is rough, physical work, to be sure, not to mention dangerous. Regardless, race, class, and gender, a.k.a. the Big 3 of graduate school discussions, make themselves known almost every year in the form of op-eds, short bios, and other articles floating around myriad media outlets.

The field is changing– a Cajun man is arguably the most formidable figure in the sport right now, and a privileged woman from New Jersey is making a bid this year– but this is an amazing article about the current face of black jockeys, Kevin Krigger. If he wins on Saturday, he’ll be the first black jockey to win in over 100 years, which boggles the mind. I can’t wait to see the most diverse field in Derby history run tomorrow. 

Fantasy Life Update: I Can’t Even

Sorry, hands shaking.

Sorry, hands shaking.

This is my ticket for the Kentucky Derby. Finish line, under the awning, in a box gifted to my amazing friend (who is bringing my lucky bones) by Kentucky Fried Chicken. I will never, ever sit in seats this good again. These are ungettably good seats. Can you tell I’m so excited I want to explode? BRING IT ON, OUT-OF-TOWNERS. Kentucky’ll show you how it’s done.

The Parade is Over (The Party Has Just Begun)

Here’s a cool, short read about the history of the Kentucky Derby Festival, which ends tonight, ostensibly to make room for the Kentucky Derby, which is the world’s finest party.

Kentucky Mount Rushmore

What Made Kentucky Famous.

What Made Kentucky Famous.

Usually, I try to do a minibio of someone interesting on Tuesday afternoons, but you know what? I’m just going to make an incomplete list of several Kentuckians who are or were awesome and conclude said list with a brief statement, inspired by yet another Will Russell brainchild. Please watch this brief video before continuing.

So, the good folks who wanted to make this a reality (now on hold) asked people to pick their favorite Kentuckians to be memorialized in stone, like the other, less fun Mount Rushmore. With respect to the ones chosen (Lincoln, Muhammad Ali, Colonel Sanders, and Secretariat), here’s an alternate list that is probably equally deserving.

1. Loretta Lynn. I am going to do a little feature on Miss Lady later this week, but a word on the woman: she’s had dozens of amazing records, was a live-out-loud feminist, and somehow still manages to maintain this wonderful place, where a lady (me) may get as many biscuits with gravy as her heart desires.

2. Duncan Hines. Duncan Hines was kind of the original (and not terrible) Guy Fieri. He wrote these little guide books that had out-of-the-way places to get tasty food. One of the places he put on the map was Sanders’ Court and Cafe– the original KFC in Corbin, Kentucky. This was all before he founded the company that brought us funfetti.

3. Robert Penn Warren. RPW was only person to win a Pulitzer for poetry and fiction, but you don’t care about that. Okay, his racial politics were not really to any modern person’s liking, but his work with the Agrarians? Fascinating. All the Kings Men? A feat of intellect and one of the top ten best novels I’ve ever read. His Understanding Poetry textbook? Probably the best poetry text I have read. This guy was a giant of American letters.

4. Hunter S. Thompson. What can I even say? He is from Louisville and attended my rival high school. He was wild. He did drugs I cannot pronounce and he did them with great regularity. He was played by yet another excellent Kentuckian in his own bizarre biopic. I have a series of portraits of him framed in my living room. My roller derby name is Huntress Thompson. Read this. Watch this. Be convinced of his inimitable, unspeakable genius.

Runners Up: Edgar Cayce (Kentuckian Most Committed to Being a True Freak),  George Clooney (Kentuckian Most Pleased About Being Himself), Daniel Boone (Kentuckian with A Great Hat), Ephraim McDowell (Kentuckian Least Concerned About Anesthesia), Thomas Merton (Most Saintly Kentuckian), Bobbie Ann Mason (Kentuckian I Want to Hang With), Diane Sawyer (Kentuckian Most Maligned by Bill O’Reilly, Who Is A Gigantic Ass), Wendell Berry (Kentucky Author Who Most Liked the Pie I Once Served Him), John Scopes (Kentuckian Most Dedicated to Teaching Evolution), Mary Todd Lincoln (runner up, Kentuckian Most Committed to Being a True Freak category), Louis Brandeis (Most Handsome Jewish Kentuckian Supreme Court Judge), Billy Ray Cyrus (Best Kentucky Mullet), Jennifer Lawrence (Kentuckian I See Most Often at Zanzabar), D.W. Griffith (Kentuckian Most Influential in Modern Cinema), Henry Clay (Kentuckian for Whom The Most Things Are Named)

Okay! Who did I miss?

Made by Kentucky Hands

A Kentuckian made this. I live in a county named for his ancestors, and that, my friends, is a fact. Also, he apparently used to date a dark haired woman with my same last name, so when people ask me if he dated my sister I don’t say no.

Yes, I’m going to do this until the Derby.  I’m not sorry.

Staying In: Louisville, Kentucky

I usually do my travel guide on Mondays, but I’m about to move from Louisville, and I’m getting in my “last ______s” right now. People ask me about what to do in the city all the time, so maybe I’ll just make a list for you right now. It’s timely, right? You’re coming for the Derby, I hope.

Horses may be our civic religion, but there's so much more than that here.

Horses may be our civic religion, but there’s so much more than that here.

After the jump, there’s all I know of the place, condensed into a long-but-Reader’s-Digest-length list. Continue reading