Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Trader Joe's Earl Grey

If you haven't heard of Trader Joe's, then you live under a rock and I don't understand how you are even reading this blog since the internet must not be something you're familiar with, but I digress. 

Trader Joe's is a store that sells a lot of organic items for a cheaper price. And while they may promote their organicness, it's really their snacks that keep you coming back for more. And in my case - the tea.

They don't have the largest selection of teas, only offering a variety of your very basics, but this has been my go-to every morning for the past two months. It's not only been a repurchase, but my very reason for wanting to go to the store. 

It is loaded with bergamot, which is something hard to find among off-brand teas. It reminds me of the Bigelow earl grey, but nearly half the price. If you have a Trader Joe's near you and you love tea, it's worth it just to get a few boxes of the good/cheap stuff.

The box is one of those handy ones very similar to Choice teas, where you remove a bottom part on the front of the box and have them readily available. This could be another reason why I have it for breakfast every morning, when whatever is easiest wins.

So get your cheap on as well as your organic, and check this out. 

And as always, enjoy a nice cuppa. Cheers!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Of Love and Loss

When a loved one passes, you never really anticipate it.  You fall out of your routine, you try to balance your life, and you attempt to not focus on the impact that the loss makes on your family.

Everyone follows through with actions most suitable to their own needs, while trying to support each other on the same journey.  For me, I stopped blogging.  I had a blog planned for that week.  It was going to be a rant about the tea at hospitals and how it was inhumane to offer only generically repulsive options.  Never thought that tea that I stole from the hospital that day would end up holding a greater, more sentimental value.  Suffice to say, I won't be drinking it, and not just because it tasted vile.

We also look at our lives and the people within it.  Use a more observant eye to think of who our truest friends are, and who the toxic ones are.  The toxic ones, the ones who always have to ruin your day.  They'll try to make you feel bad about yourself, they'll try to out do you in everything in a competition that you never signed up for, and they use the hollowest of words to comfort you in times of need and strife.  It's not until something drastic that you decide that you really don't need them in your life.

You also see who true family is.  Some family will make the death of someone solely about them and how they're affected by it.  No one knows their pain, and no one hurts as much as they do - even if that's far from the truth.  The selfishness of their mourning takes away your sympathy for them.  They never had any for anyone else to begin with, so it's not that hard to do.

It can strengthen bonds that you didn't think could get any stronger - ie, me and my husband.  Or make your bonds with others something nearly tangible - ie, my relationship with a few friends that have always been a great, but have become so much more than I thought possible.  They become family.  Replacing people that you've seen the true colors of and make you realize that sometimes water can actually be thicker than blood.

I never stopped drinking tea, though.  That part of my routine continued on.  It's comforting and warm, like a hug.  So I might not have blogged since May, but I'll try to come back into my routine.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

British Invasion Black

Yeah, yeah.  I know Tuesday's are my blog days and that I'm two days late.  Don't blame me.  It was Free Comic Book Day on Saturday (May 3rd, 2014) and I've been binge reading the 58 comics that scored from 7 different comic book shops.  (Yes, I know that there were only 57 different comics but some of my awesome comic book stores allowed you to select some older real comics along with the official fcbd ones.)

One of my friends included among my nerdy gang of booty collectors last Saturday was awesome enough to bring me this tea.  She was recently in the Orlando area and stumbled into a World Market.  There she found a tea section to die for.  When she texted me pictures of my options, since she was nice enough to offer to buy me one, I was instantly drawn to this box.

The packaging is great.  Fun quotes, fun pictures, and an overall stereotypical display of British culture.  It's just too bad that it's actually Canadian.

The Indian grown tea is shipped to the Canadian manufacturer where it is then packaged before being shipped to the distribution warehouse in America.  That is the brilliance in packaging.  You'd think that a place like World Market would have items that match the authenticity of their name, but in this case it goes no further than the pretty box.

The tea itself is packaged in round sachets much like Typhoo and Tetley.  And apart from its Canadian roots, it does have the taste of a true British black tea.  That strength that you expect from a proper cuppa doesn't go unnoticed.  You wouldn't know that it wasn't authentic unless you inspected the box for its true place of origin.

So it may be a wolf in sheep's clothes, but it is still one beautiful sheep.  God save the Queen.... er.... or Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Williamson Earl Grey

Sometimes the obvious needs to be stated.  Williamson tea caddies are undeniably the most intricately and beautifully designed.  All that beauty aside, I still felt the need to add my stupid little starbursts.

I was lucky enough to stumble upon not one, but two different teas in two different styled elephant caddies at a HomeGoods about a year ago.  I just couldn't pass up possessing them, having them add a little something of refinement to my tea cupboard.  

Let's just talk about the packaging a bit more.  You can't see in the picture, but all the golden accents are metallic.  The paint is designed to roughly patch along the elephants skin to give it more of a textured look of an elephant.  And the elephant itself has more meaning than just to look pretty.  The 'Wandering Elephant' is the symbol of the tea farms.  A time before machinery (Williamson Tea was established in 1869), elephants were trained to help pull the dead tea bushes from the ground with their trunks and rewarded with bananas according to their website.  My hatred of bananas means that I would be a very cantankerous tea elephant.   Williamson Tea used to be farmed in Assam in North-India, and the mascot was an Asian elephant.  When they closed down all those farms and only used farms in Kenya, they changed to a more appropriate African elephant.  

That is almost illegally cute.

Now onto the tea.  Twenty round bags of strong and heavenly blended bliss.  The tea that I have tried the largest variety of is Earl Grey.  A fun fact about me is that the first time I ever tried Earl Grey, I didn't really like it all that much.  Not wanting to waste the four other bags of it I had in my Twinings Black Tea Variety Pack, I drank them anyway.  By the time I finished my second cup, I was an addict.  So it wasn't the most fun of facts out there, but what were you expecting?

Back to Earl Grey.  Everybody makes one.  Most of them taste different.  Some are too heavy on the Bergamot.  Some you can't even taste Bergamot in.   This one in particular has a heavier Bergamot taste than some others, but it is absolutely divine.  It has such a unique flavor that it stands out among the other Earl Grey's in my tea cupboard.  I use this one sparingly since it is such a rare find, but I know that I can order it from their website when the sad day does come when I run out.  

It's one of those thicker teas.  The type of thickness that is palpable in your mouth and mainly accompanies teas that are derived from the northern parts of the UK and in Africa.  It's a sign that this tea will wake you up like a slap in the face, and some days you just know that that is exactly what it will take to make you human and functioning as such.

If you want to build up your tea collection, I fully recommend checking out a Home Goods store if you live in America.  I don't know how many countries have a variation of it, but I do know that there's a similar store called HomeSense in Canada and the United Kingdom.  These places get various shipments of random teas and you just need to check whenever you visit one of them.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tetley's Black & Green

Yes, that's a Polaroid of Benedict Cumberbatch.  He needed to be included for reasons.  Don't ask what they are, just know that they exist and are poignant to this post.  (Even if I don't mention his name past this point.)

If you've heard one thing about green tea, its how healthy it is.  It tastes amazing, too, but there are still many out there that prefer black tea and refuse to change their ways.  Luckily, Tetley is looking out for you by combining Black tea leaves with Green tea leaves.  It boasts the flavor of black with the goodness of green.  I eyeballed this box each time I saw it, never daring enough to delve into experimenting.  (Experimenting can lead to gateway things, like boba teas.)

The fact that you get 72 pouches per box, and they don't offer anything smaller, is a tad intimidating.  If I didn't like it, I'd have 71 bags of it taking up space in my already cramped cupboard of 100+ teas, and that just wouldn't be acceptable.  But I have a tea addiction, and I was jonesing for a new cuppa to try, so I bought it anyway.

Oh. My. Goobers.  This stuff is amazing.  There's this slight bitterness with black teas that you don't even notice once you've had it enough, and the green actually cancelled out the bitterness that I didn't even realize I was still tasting.  Like that old saying "you don't know what you have until it's gone," I wasn't realizing that my taste buds were still picking up on that bitter note until this tea came into my life.  I don't really pick up the green tea, either.  That being said, this would be the perfect tea for those wackadoodles  lovely people that don't like green tea.  I bought this yesterday and had three cups of it in a row.  That's dedication.  (Or addiction and I need rehab.)

(Black & Green duking it out before deciding it best to just coincide peacefully.)

I've had Tetley's Green tea before and really enjoyed it, but apart from these two teas, I didn't know much about the brand.  So I went to ye old interweb to learn my something about them.

Along the way, I learned other fascinating tidbits as well, and I wouldn't be a proper blogger if I didn't pass that knowledge on.

The first tea bag, was an accident.  Hard to believe, but a New York tea merchant decided to send samples of his tea around in little silk baggies with the intention that customers would cut the bags open to pour the tea into a pot.  People, not realizing its intended purpose, thought they were supposed to put the whole bag in the pot and the future of tea had a new hope.  The first person to sell bagged teas in Britain was Tetley in 1953, so never scoff at this brand because they're the reason tea-convenience became something that companies did and not just a happy accident.

Always steep responsibly.

So go steep them bags of goodness, try something new, and enjoy your new favorite cuppa!  Cheers!

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!


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.


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!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Teatulia Earl Grey

Welp, gotta do it.  Gotta bully the good guys.  Sometimes, the good guys just leave you know choice.  Just think of me as Khan or Loki.  You can't hate me because I'm not that bad.  My intentions are good, but just for me.  These good guys may not like it, but they had it coming to them.

They really brought it on themselves.

Look at this canister of tea.  They make sure to talk about the canister on the label that's on the canister.  Teatulia felt the need to explain themselves.  Like how Superman explained the "S" on his costume in Man of Steel.  "Due to the handcrafted nature of our packaging, no two eco-canisters are alike.  Please recycle."  Oh, you do-gooders.

They don't stop there, though.  No siree.  They delve much deeper in their do-gooder nature.

Here are some points they make sure to emphasize about themselves on said eco-canister:

Organic: "Grown naturally.  We partner with like-minded single gardens to ensure each cup is perfectly balanced."

Goody two shoes.

Eco:  "Compostable, from the canister to our stringless, tagless bags."

You already tooted your own horn about your canister, you saps.

Doing Good:  "The Teatulia Cooperative continues to improve the lives of thousands of women, men & children."

They then continue on to their superhero catchphrase.... "It's time to do things better."

This is the part that really grates my cheese:

Taste the Goodness:  "Smooth & rich with no bitterness.  We brag about the flavor of our teas."

You haven't earned those bragging rights.  Not.  One.  Bit.

So you're USDA certified organic.  And you're Rainforest Alliance certified.  And you cost about $6 for 30 tea bags because of all these certified, do-gooder, 'I'm better than you' claims.  Too bad you're the blandest Earl Grey I've ever had.  Is there even any bergamot oil in this!?

Your ingredients list, still not letting up on all the 'look at me and how much better I am than you' says it's made of "organic black tea and natural bergamot oil", but I can't taste the bergamot that much if at all.

I like my Earl Grey balanced, and this is yet another one of those companies that thinks organic teas shouldn't have the same bold flavors as the average joes.  

If you solely care about organics, then by all means, pick this up at Target where I found it.  However, if you don't want to punish your taste-buds, then pick up my favorite Earl Grey which is also at Target.  Harney & Sons Supreme Earl Grey.  You'll be thanking me later for bashing this cape-wearer.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Traditional Medicinals organic Chamomile with Lavender

Let me start off by saying this:

     I did it for the blog.

This is yet another tea that my husband traded for at work with the poor chap that raids his mothers teas and brings them to work.  My husband has been working on introducing this poor sap to teas that leave your taste buds with some dignity to them.  I feel as though his complete lack of knowledge on teas may be affecting his work since I would not recommend a relaxing herbal tea such as this as a replacement to the caffeinated glory of more respectable teas such as the blacks and greens.

Herbal teas.  My relationship with them is weaker than any other relationship I have with other teas but probably on par with my feelings towards white tea.  I usually take my chamomile mixed with spearmint or some other variant of mint to help add a little something to the taste - like Sleepy Time tea.  Some puritans don't even include herbal teas among the teas at all.  Especially those from countries that have been doing tea longer than us Americans.

But, for the sake of my blog.  I sadly put aside my delectable black teas in order to do a proper review of this one.

You can see the chamomile with bits of lavender flowers in the bag, and as you pour the hot water over the bag, you can smell a mixture of the both.  It smells almost like an aromatherapy candle.  And it tastes pretty much like it smells.  I would liken the smell to a Yardley soap I used recently.

When you first sip it, you taste the blandness of the chamomile flowers.  After that washes from your palette, you get a flowery aftertaste of lavender.  It doesn't smell or taste like something you should be ingesting.  It brings to mind lavender butter which I remember a friend telling me about.  I couldn't really fathom how that would taste but now I think I would have a better clue.  It probably tastes like you shouldn't be ingesting it.  (I think that will be my new slogan.)

I'm really regretting not having an earl grey right now.

I'm also noticing that my tongue feels cool even though I'm drinking something hot.  What sort of poison is this?

I would not recommend this to anyone unless you're one of those people that end your night with plain chamomile tea and want to spruce it up.  Of course, then I would just recommend Sleepy Time tea by Celestial Seasonings.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

My Lipton Hypocrisy

If there is one tea that I bash more than any others, it would obviously have to be Lipton.

But there may be a slight confusion as to what I am truly bashing.  I do have one product in mind.  The one that most uncultured establishment offer.  You know the situation between you and your waiter, too.  The one where they ask if you would like coffee or tea after your meal and you excitedly inquire as to what teas they offer and their response is simply "hot tea".  

There is no greater disappointment than that response to a tea lover.

This is the typical offered choice:

The hotdog of the tea world.  You know, because it's made of all other teas left over bits.  Or at least that's the only reasonable explanation.  They don't really specify much other than stating that it's black tea so it keeps you guessing at to what actually fills the bag.  Hence another reason for the hotdog comparison.

Lipton does have a grouping of redeeming teas, though.  Their special pyramid bagged teas.  These are the ones currently in my tea cupboard:

The first one I ever tried was the Island Mango & Peach (not pictured).  A friend gave me a bag to try and I really enjoyed it so I got my own box.  Then, sadly, after a couple of cups I grew tired of it and gave it away to another friend that used to drink it everyday.

Then I moved on to Vanilla Caramel Truffle.  I have gone through a few boxes of that one.  Even my most snobbish of tea friends enjoy this one.  To me, it's a perfect tea for after dinner to be enjoyed either with a dessert or by itself as a dessert.  It has these little white vanilla pieces that melt when you brew it.  It's not overly sweet but it's as sweet as I'll go with teas - and this is the only sweetish one I enjoy.

After than, I bought their Chai Tea, and while it's not my favorite chai, it's not all that bad.  It's the only one I know of in my collection that adds black pepper and you can really taste that once you start getting to the bottom of the cup.  You wouldn't think that would work but somehow it does.

The newest one I bought yesterday is the Black Pearl tea.  I read the words Sri Lanka on it and knew what to expect.  It's a ceylon tea.  Not as strong as the loose Ceylon by Ahmad Tea of London which I prefer, but the leaves seem to be very similar in quality.  Maybe I just usually add more to my tea strainer than what they stuff into a bag.  It's good for when you just want just a quick, no-fuss cuppa.

While I do recommend passing over the regular Lipton, I would say don't turn these down just because of the logo.  You might be surprised.  I know I was.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Royal by Newman's Own

When it comes to teas that are sold in boxes of 100 - it's never very promising.  (Looking at you Lipton!)  But this tea, which originally sells for $4 and change, was on sale for $2 and change at a health food store by my husbands office that we had dinner at on his break.  The sale price was what left me considering giving it a whirl.

I debated for about 10 minutes on whether or not to buy it.  Part of me was worried it was going to be as horrendous as Lipton while the other part of me was arguing that their is no possible way for anything to be that horrendous.  (Unless of course you read my last post in which my taste buds were assaulted with uninvited Stevia leaves.)

I finally gave in and made the purchase - after my husband got annoyed with just standing there watching me pick-up the box, put down the box, and repeat this process on loop during the entire length of my inner-dialogue debate.

I gave him a handful of them to take back to his office while I went to enjoy mine at my parents house.  We shared similar opinions on this tea.  It's nothing special, but it's not complete crap.  I might have photographed it with my most royal of mugs, but it is no where near worthy enough to corrupt the chastity of my Princess Diana & Prince Charles mug, no matter how many times you find the word "royal" written on the box.

I'm pretty sure this tea doesn't take itself too seriously, either.  The back of the box contains directions on properly steeping the tea that are written in a way very similarly to the directions for the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.  Which are pretty basic.  It's the type of tea that needs the water to be boiling and the bag left in it the entire time you're drinking it in order for it to be strong enough.  It's packaged in those sketchy little paper bags where you have to tear the handle off from perforated parts on the bag itself, which I always find annoying since I don't want to participate in arts and crafts whenever I want a cuppa.  What I do like about it is that it is a no-fuss black tea that tastes like a black tea.  Not how Lipton just tastes like garbage that has no semblance to a black tea other than it's darker color.  And what's more is that you really can't beat that price even if it isn't on sale.

So I'll end this on a very bland cheers!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Wisdom of the Ancients Verba Mate Chai

You know when you're in the dollar store and you see a toy and you know that there's something off about it but you can't place your finger on it straight away?

And you do a double take and then realize that it is just a terrible excuse for the original?

Well, here is the tea form of that:

My husband is creating two tea-oholics at his job.  It's a thing us tea drinkers do.  Kind of like Jehovah Witnesses but with a delightful beverage and none of that annoying door bell ringing and bible thumping.  We simply say, "You there?  Yes, you!  I never see you drinking tea or talking about how great tea is.  Let me pour the contents of this tea pot down your throat and show you what you've been missing!"  And then we wait with baited breath for the receiver of our tactics to get that dazed-out, crack-head look and thank us for opening up their world.  It usually never happens to that effect, but a gal can dream.
Among my husband's two tea grasshoppers, is one that brought in some tea he took from his mother.... who apparently lacks taste buds.  He traded one of his teas for one of my husband's delectable Darjeeling teas - being sure to emphasize that it is indeed the champagne of teas.  The one that he traded for was this chai.  Now, my husband does not like chai, so this one came to me with absolutely no warnings.

Upon steeping, I could tell there was something off about the smell, but couldn't pin point it.  Then the taste - it was off and contained a thickness of something but I couldn't tell what it was.  I chugged it like one would a medicinal liquid and then went on the interwebs to try to find what it was that was so awful about this tea.  Then I saw it.  If I had seen the box before drinking, I would have known.  And not being the type to vandalize my delicious tea, I wasn't adept at recognizing the horrific treatment that this tea received prior to packaging.  

It contains stevia leaves.  

The apparent Wisdom of the Ancients lack all respect for tea and its drinkers by poisoning it with sweetness.  This may be well and fine for some who take sweeteners in their teas - those whackadoodles.  But I for one am a puritan, only drinking my tea plain.  No milk.  And absolutely NO sweetener.  To take away the tea drinkers choice in such delicate matters of the palate is a crime that should be punishable by something very unpleasant.

So if you are on the search for a good chai, I implore you to steer clear of these tea blasphemers!