Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Barry's Tea ・ Decaf


Okay, mates.  Get your tea bag tongs ready.  This is a strong one.  (Also, please pardon the possibly offensive use of Lucky Charms marshmallows in the pic.... it was either those or a can of potatoes and this one seemed less offensive of the two prop options.)

Bold, robust, and decaffeinated.  This is the [self-proclaimed] finest tea in Ireland since 1901.  Look at the box.  It says that's what it is so it must be true.  I don't have too many authentic Irish teas to compare it to, so I can't really say with my own findings that this is the case.  What I do like about this one in particular is that it's decaf.  

I said in my last blog  that decaf versions of many teas are hard to come by, so when I came across this unique gem I just had to take it home with me.  I've never tried the non-decaf version, since I was trying to build up my decaf collection when I stumbled upon this one at a Walmart surprisingly enough.  The box is kind of rubbish and I had to use tape to keep it together after the first time I opened it and the large flap opens awkwardly so it wins no awards for packaging.  The tea sachets are connected in pairs and perforated down the center in a manner that I have seen with quite a few other sachet tea bags.  It smells like the rich, black tea that it is and it steeps to a lovely golden brown that is absolutely mouthwatering.





As I warned in the beginning, this is one of those times that you're going to need those tea tongs since it can get very strong very fast.  I have noticed that when teas are from Scotland or Ireland they are worlds stronger than ones from England.  And this one is no different.  Decaf doesn't mean less flavor, so don't think that this one isn't that strong because of that word.

So start pealing your potatoes and get the Guinness ready, it's tea time the Irish way.  Cheers!

There's always time for a good cuppa.... unless you're in the middle of a submission hold.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Bigelow Earl Grey Decaf


For the past couple of weeks I have notably been on a search for my Twinings Earl Grey decaf.  I had exhausted my supplies and was yearning for a good cup of it to have at night when I relaxed.  I finally got too frustrated and looked to see if any other companies had an Earl Grey decaf.

This one won out.

It's not better than the Twinings one.  But it's also not worse.  It has a heavier Bergamot flavor than the Twinings, but that doesn't add or take-away anything where flavor is concerned.  It's a decent substitute and I've almost finished the box after less than a week, so that's saying something.  

Decaf's are a weird breed.  They don't completely lack caffeine, and they don't seem very popular or else you'd find more of your favorite teas with the decaf option.  When you drink as much tea as I do, you try to have decaf options just so that you're not like that squirrel from Hoodwinked.  You know the one.


Or like Brendan Fraser back when he had strong physical appeal....


Caffeine can be good in small doses.  Too much can make you seem like a crack head.  And you don't want that, so drink your cuppas responsibly.  Cheers!




Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Twinings French Vanilla Chai


Oh Chai.  We have a love hate relationship.  But not in a way that means I never don't enjoy your taste.  This is more of a 'I love to have you when it's cold outside and hate how you remind me when it's hot outside' kind of deal.  Me being a Florida girl, that happens quite often.

Chai has always been one of those teas that as soon as it starts getting a tad bit nippy out, I go reaching for it.  Previously, my tea cupboard only had Pumpkin Spice Chai and Chai decaf.  I was looking for a couple of teas I was running low on at my local grocery store when I saw this one.  The Chai flavors circulate throughout the year at my local grocer and this one, while I had seen it previously, just began its rounds again on the shelves.  Seeing as they didn't have the teas I was looking for, I decided I deserved a consolation prize.

My husband hates chai.  Absolutely, don't bring it near him, don't offer it to him, hates it.  So when I brewed this Sunday afternoon while we were waiting for our eyeballs to calm down after our optometrist dilated them, I decided to make him smell it.  He liked the smell, so I told him to try it.  

And he liked it.

Chai blends well with certain flavors better than others.  And as it turns out, vanilla is definitely one of those things. 

Chai is a deliciously spicy (like cinnamon spicy, not Tabasco spicy) that tastes like the delights of the holidays.  The vanilla is subtle but still strong enough to be recognized and enjoyed.  You just know that it would taste delicious with gingerbread, and other spicy treats.  

It has its own sweet flavor but not overly so or else I wouldn't be able to stomach it.

So if you live somewhere that's currently cold, then this is the tea for you.  If you live somewhere hot like me, then turn the ac down, put the fans on full blast, and let this tea make you feel like its a blizzard out there!

Cheers!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tea Nation Earl Grey


Yarrrr me mateys!  Okay, I may have taken the fact that there's a pirate ship on the canister a little too seriously.  Big whoop.

What do me likey more than tea?  Tea on sale!  What's better than tea on sale?  Tea as gifts!  Yep, people sometimes pay homage to me in the form of the earthy goodness of the tea leaf.  Can't complain.  I figured I earn it by being me.

This tea?  It's pretty good Earl Grey.  Cheap (if you have to buy it yourself), 50 in a canister, and better than your typical cheaper Earl Grey.

What is a "typical cheaper Earl Grey" you ask?  Why, that's when the bergamot is very faint.  Some Earl Greys, the cheaper ones, you can't even taste the Earl Grey.  So the fact that this one is still very pleasing to the bergamot fans is saying something.

It comes in a stringless tea bag, but I don't find that it gets too strong if you leave it in the entire time you're enjoying it, so no need to break out the tea tongs like in the my last blog post.

The canister has a whole bunch of words on it once you turn it around.  They call it a Ceylon tea.  Which is to say that this black tea is grown in Sri Lanka which was once called Ceylon.  Ceylon tea is usually bolder in taste than your average black tea.  You can definitely taste that in this one.  It's bolder than Twinings Earl Grey.

It also boasts a few things on the canister (what is it with tea in canisters that make the company have to brag about so much).  Blah, blah, eco friendly, blah, blah, zero carbs, blah, blah, gluten free, blah, blah, no trans fats, blah, blah, give me a break.

Now, I've have a LOT of teas and I don't remember seeing that any of them had carbs, gluten, or trans fat so it just seems like they're advertising to people that aren't huge tea buffs but are looking for healthier alternatives to sugary drinks.  Seems to be the only reason to showcase these tidbits.  But who knows, I'm not a dietitian or an advertiser, so what do I know.  I just like a good cuppa.

You can find this one as grocery stores like Winn-Dixie.  Cheers!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Taylors of Harrogate Scottish Breakfast



  I realize the error in my ways of posing the 'Scottish Breakfast Tea' in 
a photo with my 'Sights of London' mug, but whatevs.  

What you see in the above photo, apart from my inadvertent mixing of countries (I just got the mug and tea and was dying to use both) are tea bag tongs and a Mickey Mouse tea bag holder.  Crucial instruments for this tea.

Apart from rambling on about the pictured tea, I'm also going to spread the holy word of the awesomeness that is tea tongs.

Oh tea tongs, you blessed thing, you.

But first the tea...

Based on my experience, the further you get from the equator, the stronger the tea.  Some of the strongest ones I've had have been either from the Southern regions of Africa to the chilly Northern areas of Scotland.  Of course, maybe the reason for Scotland (and Ireland) having stronger teas is because those are some people who can stereotypically handle their liquor so they need a tea that's just a strong.

The reason for the tea tongs and tea bag holder?  Unlike most teas that need to steep around 3 minutes or more, this one just needs the boiling water poured directly onto the bag and then a few squeezes with the tea tongs.  In under 10 seconds, this thing is strong enough that you'll be playing the bagpipes.

Taste wise, it reminds me of Yorkshire.  Those same rules apply for that tea as well.  They both have the same issue occur when oversteeped: thickness.  You can practically chew the water.  I'd imagine it's the same texture jello gets before it hardens, but alas it has been many moon since I've made jello.  As a tea drinker, it's a terrible feeling.  You can fix it by adding more boiling water and doubling it to two cups, but why go through all that faff if you can just eradicate that problem from occurring with tea tongs.

Tea tongs: the savior of a tea drinkers life.

If you're an avid tea drinker and you partake in stringless bagged teas, why don't you have tea tongs?  Are you a schmuck?  That was harsh, I know, but it's not like you won't get your use out of them.  The tea bag holder is optional.  You can simply dispose of you teabag in whatever manner you usually do without the need of this middle-man, but for the purpose of presentation, it's a more sophisticated option.  And most of the traditions of tea are based with sophistication, class, and pomp in mind.  You can't do that dripping your way to a garbage can.  And if you thought "well I could just bring the tea pot to the garbage and dispose of it without making a mess", then you didn't really think that through with the 'classy' part of your brain.  Dripping tea along the floor as you hurry to the garbage lacks a lot of sophistication on your part, but bringing the tea pot to hover above garbage while you throw it away?  That's gross.  Don't do that.

So don't be a drippy jester when you can be a sophisticated ass mo-fo.  Get some tea tongs.  And go enjoy some Scottish Breakfast tea you kilt-clad, high-society type person.  Cheers!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

PG Tips


While tea is brewing, there's also a war brewing.  But not the kind you're probably thinking of.  Two teas have been duking it out for the number one tea in England for quite some time.  Similar to the Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi dispute, this one is PG Tips vs. Yorkshire.

Sure, it's all a matter of personal preference and it's a close call, but for the purpose of today's blog, PG Tips wins.

I'll talk about Yorkshire at a later date.... just not this week.

Bold, black, and undoubtedly British this is a strong black tea.  The kind that you may want to get the tea tongs out for after it steeps for about three minutes if you plan on not getting chest hair when you drink the last sips from the bottom of the mug.  Perfect for making a pot, and daring for a single cup, it's the kind of tea that you don't have once evening rolls around because you just know this caffeine is probably crae crae.

Upon looking into this tea, I've learned me some facts that I shall share.  The name has always been a mystery to me.  It's very different from many others, so I wanted to go into writing this entry with the knowledge of where it came from.

Pre-Gest-Tee.

Now that doesn't sound any better, does it?

It was the name when it first hit store in the 1930's.  The name was suppose to signify how you can drink it prior to eating dinner as a digesting aid.  Appetizing.

Lazy grocers just called it PG, to which the company caught onto and then also added on the "Tips" in reference to how they only use the tips of the tea plants to make a better blend.  Those witty Brits.

As black teas go, this one is very good.  You have to like a strong cuppa, though.  This isn't for the feint of heart if you plan on using one pyramid bag in a cup.  They do make single cup tea bags, but they don't sell them in the states.  Pshaw to that, I say.

Now as I've reached the bottom of the mug, I need to prepare myself for my new chest hairs.  Cheers!



Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Wild Berries and Jammie Dodgers


Feast thine eyes upon what I would say is quite the winning and sickly sweet combo.  Sickly sweet in a good way, of course.  This box of tea was gifted to me and I'd been eyeballing those Jammie Dodgers every time I went to the grocery store the past two months before finally giving in.  

Combined, it makes for an adorably sweet tea time.  (Which is why I gave the picture fairy sparkles.)

My blog seems to be ill as of late.  Suffering from what I would call an "herbal tea visus".  This is odd because I rarely drink herbal teas, as I've mentioned before.  But my Jammie Dodgers whispered to me that they wanted to be eaten with a fruity/sweet tea.

Which brings us here.  

First, let's talk about the Jammie Dodgers.  They are freakin adorable.  A shortbread that, for once, doesn't have that buttery taste that shortbread is known for.  And I don't know what voodoos involved in making the raspberry flavored plum jam center, but unlike pretty much every other cookie that has a fruity center, this one is creamy and not rock-hard.  Typically, I find that cookies of the fruit-filled variety have a MO to rip the fillings out of my innocent ol' toothesess.  

Not nice.  Not nice at all.

But these are creamy and go perfectly with the shortbread making it my new favorite tea biscuit.  Sorry Ovaltine and Walkers.  It was good while it lasted.  We can still be friends.  Alright, friends with benefits.

Despite the fruit in the center, I find that they still go well with any tea... but best with this weeks tea.

Twinings Wild Berries herbal tea.  

Here's what the website has to say:

A full-flavoured herbal tea made with the naturally sweet flavours of raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and blackcurrants. 

A flavourful herbal tea expertly blended with the luscious flavours of raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and blackcurrants to deliver a delicious tea with a fresh, fruity aroma and naturally sweet taste. 

Ingredients: natural strawberry, raspberry, blueberry and blackcurrant flavours with other natural flavours, rosehips, hibiscus, orange leaves, apple pieces, liquorice root, roasted chicory root.

I guess I forgot about my fruit teas when I said that my Lipton Caramel Vanilla Truffle was my sweetest tea.  Since this one is made up of bits of fruit that naturally sweeten it, this would have to win.  It has that slightly bitter afterthought that fruity teas have.  It's not a bad bitter, just a distinctive one.

If you've never had a fruit tea, don't make the mistake of going into it thinking that it's just going to taste like hot fruit juice.  That's not the case at all.  Fruit tea tastes like, well, fruit tea.  It has no comparison that I can think of.  Those that frequent Teavana may be very familiar with fruit teas because that's all I ever see them offering as samples.  But those are horrid teas, and this one isn't that bad.  

While the brewed product is a delightful pink, the fruit that actually stands out the most for me is the blueberry.  I would imagine people that add sugar to their tea would really like it in this one, but I'm not daring enough to give that a whirl since this is already sweet enough for me.

So turn the kettle on, get your Jammie Dodgers ready, and enjoy a cuppa!  Cheers!