Yellow is the color we commonly associate with spring. It is the radiant color of sunshine, daffodils, lemons, bananas, emojis, highlighters, fluffy chicks, and the finest Pittsburgh sports shirts. It is a royal color. The early Tang dynasty banned common people and officials from wearing yellow, and declared royal palaces would be marked by yellow roofs.
It also denotes sickness—sallow skin, jaundice, or a bilious attack. It was the color of cowardice, as well as the star Jews were forced to wear, and of derogatory reference in the early twentieth century referring to immigrants from Asia.

Indian yellow

The pigment Indian yellow was popular among Indian painters in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Because of its odor, there was much conjecture about its origin. An Indian civil servant traced the mysterious yellow balls of pigment to a tiny suburb in Bengal. “There, a small group of gwalas (milkmen) tended a herd of ill-nourished cows they fed only on mango leaves and water. On this diet the cows produced extraordinarily luminous yellow urine—about three quarts per day per cow—which the gwalas collected in small earthen pots. Each night they boiled this down, strained it, and rolled the sediment into balls that were gently toasted over a fire and then left to dry out in the sun.”1

yellow books

The Italian word for yellow is giallo, which is also the word for thriller, because yellow book covers used to denote this genre of book. France, however, set the trend for yellow covers to mean sensationalist literature. In London in 1895, Oscar Wilde was arrested and later found officially guilty of gross indecency in court for carrying such a yellow book under his arm in public. Vincent Van Gogh painted a yellow book in two of his paintings. Yellow increasingly became symbolic of the rejection of repressed Victorian values, to the point where the final decade of the nineteenth century became known as the “Yellow Nineties”.

pause for yellow

Next time you see a daffodil, insert an emoji, or, for my writer friends, the next time you pick the dominant color for your book cover, perhaps you’ll #slowdown for a moment, and reflect on the story of yellow. And if you’re interested in reading more stories about colors, I highly recommend The Secret Lives of Color, by Kassia St. Clair, the inspiration and source for today’s post.

1T.N. Mukharji, “Piuri or Indian Yellow” in Journal of the Society for Arts, Vol. 32, No.1618 (Nov. 1883), pp. 16-17.



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mindfulness, and a cup of tea

In an age of speed, I began to think, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow. In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still.
Pico Iyer

the story of tea

According to Chinese legend, one fall afternoon long ago, Shennong decided to take a rest under a Camellia tree and boiled some water to drink. Dried leaves from the tree above floated down into the pot of boiling water and infused with the water, creating a pot of tea, marking the first ever infusion of the tea leaf.

For centuries, tea was used for its medicinal qualities, but became a popular drink in Buddhist monasteries after the caffeine proved to keep the monks awake during long hours of meditation.

slow down with a cup of tea

For some time, I’ve been pondering the question of how to slow down. Twice a year, at the Mindful Writers Retreat, I unplug in the company of other writers, focus on the now, and quiet the clutter of daily life to immerse myself in my writing. For the rest of the year, I try to do it by noticing the world around around me, the profound and the ordinary, #storyeverywhere, and when I can’t seem to stop racing, the act of brewing a cup of tea always helps. The first step is to select a type.
What’s your favorite brew? And what do you do to slow down and notice the world around you?


A good quality, well-steeped jasmine tea should be light and clean, with an aroma and aftertaste like a fine perfume. The Ming obsession with anything floral made jasmine a popular option. It is made by placing fresh jasmine flowers on a tray below a woven tray of green or black tea leaves in a warm room.
Often. jasmine tea has a base of green tea, so you get the proven health benefits of green tea plus its relaxing scent, found to lower heart rate. Some also claim that Jasmine acts as an aphrodisiac.

white peonyWhite Peony

This white tea is aromatic (with a peachy note) and the flavor is complex, fruity, stronger than most white teas, with slight mineral notes. It is made from a single bud and two tea leaves, which gently unfold in your tea pot, resembling the petals of a peony blossom, hence its name. The young leaves are carefully handpicked so that they suffer minimal crushing as it is when the tissue cells break that oxidation occurs and white tea stops being white tea.
A good white tea like this also contains antioxidants that strengthen your whole circulatory system. It helps both to lower blood pressure as well as reduce bad cholesterol levels.


Smoky, sweet, woody, grassy, vanilla, floral, geranium, honey, herbal and caramel are just a handful of the words that can describe the flavor spectrum of sipping a rooibos tea. Rooibos is an herb native to South Africa that isn’t even a true “tea” at all. Rather, it’s a plant that when harvested and dried can be brewed into a reddish-brown herbal infusion. Locals have been harvesting and brewing the naturally growing rooibos in the Cederberg region for hundreds of years.
The antioxidants in rooibos tea protect the liver from oxidative stress. It lowers blood pressure and relaxes tense muscles. Because it’s an herb, rooibos is completely caffeine free.
Rooibos is delicious sipped on its own but it also holds up to a splash of milk and a little sugar or honey, which is the traditional South African way to sip rooibos. The deep amber red color of brewed red rooibos makes it a great natural dying agent for hair color, fabric for crafts or Easter eggs.

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