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!