Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Tale of Teas

Twinings Tea is my favorite brand of tea. This past summer, I picked up a couple of boxes of their herbal teas: Peppermint and Camomile. No, these aren't together.

I was a little skittish about the peppermint tea. But it turned out to be some what addictive. I have actually recently ran out of it and I haven't remember to pick some up when I go to the store. Peppermint is good for your digestive system, so anytime I have some digestive problems I would make a cup of tea and it would usually alleviate some if not all the symptoms. My mom has gotten into drinking it for those reasons. She usually waters down her pitcher of the tea. The 100% peppermint is a little too strong for her. Me? I think it's perfectly fine at full strength. Sometimes, when I have it steeping in my cup I let it steep longer than needed. It is just fine. In fact, I think that's why I find it addictive. I like the full and rich flavor of peppermint. And to me, serving it hot is the best. Yes, you would think with peppermint being such a cool herb that serving it chilled would compliment the flavor best. It is for a for a hot summers day when you want to cool yourself down. But seeing that I drink my teas in the evening, I'm ready to wind down and relax. The last thing I want to do is wake myself up with cool pure peppermint. Now, that it is finally getting cool down in my small corner of the South, I'm want hot tea after I come in from outside.

The Pure Camomile on the other hand, it most definitely an herbal tea meant to be served hot. Everyone knows that camomile helps with sleep. And there's something about the fact that it's hot that it makes it work even more. Strange that hot tea and warm milk helps with sleep while you need to be cool at temperature to sleep comfortably. I haven't tried camomile hasn't even crossed my mind to try it that way. Anyway, I still have lots of bags of that left. It's not that I don't like it. I do actually. Camomile has to strike a mood for me. The flavor is awesome though. I actually like Twinings camomile better than Stash's. The flavor is just stronger and the effects of the camomile stick with you better and longer. Can you tell I like my teas strong? But the best thing about these two teas.....they are both naturally caffeine free! This makes it perfect for drinking tea in the evening.

And here are some freebies:
  • The Twinings website as a tea explorer. You can use this to find what Twinings tea fits you best according to type, flavor, form, tea time, mood, how you take it, and whether you like it decaffeinated. Find your tea here.
  • Checking out the what's new on the site. They have a Christmas Tea and a Winter Spice Tea. I don't know if I can get it around it here, but have to try it!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Been a while!

Yes, it has been a while. But I haven't been to lazy with tea-business. In July, I took a trip down to the coast for some photography. While that fell through due to rainy weather as soon as we got there. I did stumble across a tea shoppe.

The little--and I mean little--shoppe is on St. Simons Island, Georgia and is called Serenity House Tea Society and Tea Shoppe. They have a unique selection of teas, each with their own fantastic fragrance. It can be a bit hard to decided what tea to select. The selection is Black, Oolong, Green, White, and Red teas. They also have fruit fusions and a wellness collection.

Here are some samples of what the shoppe offers(and some of the ones I plan on getting):
  • Affair du Couer-Black tea, cranberry slices, raspberry pieces, promegranate pieces, peony petals
  • Double Double Chocolate- Black tea, Chocolate chips, white chocolate, milk powder, cocoa bits and other ingredients
  • Black Tea with Coconut-speaks for itself--organic
  • Empire's Treasure Peach Pleasure-black & green tea, rose petals, rose leaves, sunflower petals
And that's just the beginning! The website is currently under construction, but eventually you will be able to order your teas online and they will ship it to you. The packaging amount is by the ounce. And they can personalize! Check out the site and bookmark it for the future!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Product Review: Starbucks Chocolate & Tea tasting squares

Yesterday evening, I went out to Wal-mart to pick up somethings to put together a Mary Kay gift basket. I wanted to put some nice chocolates in the basket as this was to be a mini at home spa basket. And what else would go with relaxing than chocolate? So, I was looking at the Starbucks selection and I saw a small box that said Chocolate & Tea. I had to try it ! Two of my favorites in one!

The chocolate features the Tazo teas: Chai, Passion, and Citron. Each of which is delightful yummy! There are bits of actual tea leaves in the chocolate, which you can feel when you bite into one of these tasting squares. You think it's crushed up bits of chocolate, but it's tea leaves as it's the only logical ingredient listed on the the wrapper that would be like that.

Each tea has a unique taste. The Chai has that spicy taste. In fact, it wasn't all that different from Stashes tea that I reviewed in my last post. Passion had a botanical taste. It wasn't earthy though. It was a sweet, flowery taste. The ingredients lists Hibiscus as it's flavoring. So, it's not at all surprising. Citron is pretty much exactly what it is: citrus. It was citrus-y. But I can't tell whether or not it was lemon or orange. I don't remember what the ingredients said it was, but it may have been lemon.

The box is divided into three sections for each of the flavor of teas. Each holds five 1 x 1 inch squares individually wrapped. So you get a total of fifteen chocolates. But I can tell you this: it won't be enough. That box didn't last me 24 hours. And I did share them with my family. So, yeah, I'm going to have to get another box just for myself. Would make a nice little stocking stuffer this Christmas.

*image found on flickr.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Review: Chai Spice from Stash

Chai: a beverage that is a blend of black tea, honey, spices, and milk. Etymology: Turkish ├žay & Russian, Persian, Hindi, & Urdu chay tea

~According Merriam-Webster's Dictionary

I had never heard of Stash Tea Co. before receiving a package from a friend that had been stuffed with Earl Grey from the company. And as far as I knew, it wasn't available in my little part of the country--even though this friend was only in the neighboring state. But I live in a relatively rural area and with many things, we miss out on experiences. Last month, in a fit for autumn drinks, I picked up Stash Chai Spice.

When I first opened the package and the tea's scent drifted to my nose, I began to worry. It smelled a bit like licorice--a scent I've never really been fond of. I worried that if it smelled like that, it's probably not going to taste that well and I've basically wasted my money. But I went out on a limb and tried it anyway. And once again, I was surprised. It did not taste at all like licorice. Far from it!

With the tea bag having the ingredients of:
blended black tea, ginger root, cinnamon, allspice, clove, nutmeg, oil of cardamom, it as some of my favorite spices that I like to use in Autumn and Christmas baking and what I associate with these seasons and holidays. I can almost taste the individual spices. Even so, the most dominate spice I can taste is the clove. I recognize it from it's scent. The scent isn't far off from it's taste. And every time I smell clove, I think of poking cloves into oranges at Christmastime. It's a distinct memory, so it the scent as well as the taste is distinctive to me.

Even as I sip this tea now, I can smell it. I realize that after have poured hot water from my tea kettle over the bag and have let it steep, the licorice scent is no longer there. Or at least, it's no longer as strong. But now, I smell more cinnamon. Clove may be the more prominent in taste, cinnamon is the prominent spice in smell.

In conclusion, smell plays a lot in how we taste. When you have a cold, things taste bland, right? That's why. You're nose is all stuffy and you can't smell. How this tea--or any other tea--is perceived is partly due to the sense of smell, which lends to it tasting how it does. Despite Chai Spice's initial scent, it turns out to be such a wonderful and enjoyable tea. I'm sure that I will form fond memories with it, just as I have with those cloves and oranges. And a bit of advice for picky eaters and drinkers: Don't give drink or food a turn down based on what it smells like, you may just be surprised.

*Pictures provided by Stash Tea Co.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Going Green

I'm biased towards black teas. It become more apparent after trying Green tea for the first time a few years ago. I was helping a friend of my mom's with typing up her essays for college. She offered me a drink and offered green tea. I was opened to trying it, feeling that I needed to expand my tastes. She prepared it for me and had put creamer in it. In all honesty, I thought it was awful. Of course, being of good and polite manners, I drink it as best as I can. But it tasted like.....flavorless wheat? It just was not very tasty.

So, the other day, I decided on giving the tea another chance. I'd making it without creamer. And you know what? I liked it! Of course, it didn't taste as it did when it did have creamer. But I suppose I expected it to be very earthy almost dirty in taste. But I was very surprised. It was sweet....and I don't think it was because of the sugar I put in it. I'm from the South, I have to have sugar in my tea. It's like going through a withdrawal without it. Anyway, I think I can say that I did enjoy it and I can add it to my list of favorite teas. By the way, the brand of tea was Twinings.

The story doesn't end there though. This expansion of taste was stretched farther. I decided to try Lipton's bottled green tea which is available in the cafeteria where I work. It's not just green tea, it's citrus green tea. It's sweet. And yes, there's 21 grams of sugar in it. But this....this sweetness seems natural. Like it was already a part of the drink before the sugar was added. It goes the same for when I tried the tea here at home. The sweetness seemed more natural as opposed to it be added. Yes, I'd have to go back to what I earlier said: I can enjoy it and will be added to my list of favorites. It will be a nice alternative to drinking cokes and juice during the work day.

*Photo by Joseph Richardson

Monday, September 1, 2008

Autumnal Tints

What strong medicinal, but rich, scents from the decaying leaves! The rain falling on the freshly dried herbs and leaves, and filling the pools and ditches into which they have dropped thus clean and rigid, will soon convert them into tea,—green, black, brown, and yellow teas, of all degrees of strength, enough to set all Nature a-gossiping. Whether we drink them or not, as yet, before their strength is drawn, these leaves, dried on great Nature’s coppers, are of such various pure and delicate tints as might make the fame of Oriental teas.
~Thoreau, Autumnal Tints

It is the first of September as well as the first post to the blog. And what better way to kick things off then to speak of Autumn! But first an introduction.

I love drinking tea. I would like to become an expert in teas. Though, I'm a little biased towards black teas. But I will try to be more open to trying other teas. As it were, this blog is to document my thoughts on the subject of tea and what I learn in my journey to becoming a connoisseur. Even if I don't get very far in my tea education, I will still enjoy a cup of tea.

The season of Autumn is my favorite of all seasons. I enjoy all the senses that it holds for the eyes, nose, and taste. All the colors combined with scents and tastes. So, I was wondering what teas are good for Autumn. I've scoured the internet in search of Autumnal teas. Summaries come from respective websites.

  • Cranberry Autumn from Harney & Son Fine Teas: A blend that combines black teas from China and India with dried cranberries, oranges and cranberry flavoring. Reminiscent of the crisp days and joyous family meals surrounding Thanksgiving and Autumn. Scones are a perfect treat to enjoy with a cup of Cranberry Autumn Tea. Comes in sachets and in loose leaf form.
  • Plum Harvest Herbal Tea from Teavana: A rich and fruity blend of apple, cinnamon, plum, hibiscus and beetroot pieces. It's a spicy reminder of autumn flavors.
  • Pumpkin Spice Autumn Spiced Tea from Bigelow: The harvest moon brings bountiful blessings for us to enjoy, not the least of which is Bigelow Pumpkin Spice Tea. Smooth and satisfying, its rich, round flavor is a masterful blend of the finest, mountain-grown teas. Pumpkin Spice Tea has no calories - just sweeten to taste for an Autumn treat that is sure to warm the hearts of family, friends and all who gather' round.
  • Spiced Apple Cider Herbal Tea from Bigelow: There's nothing like a crisp, cool Autumn day to turn trees vibrant hues and our attention to the weekend ritual of football games, apple picking, raking leaves... And there is no better way to warm up after a day in the fresh outdoors than with a steaming cup of Bigelow Apple Cider Herbal Tea. An all-natural blend of premium herbs and spices, Apple Cider Herbal Tea is big on flavor but has no caffeine and no calories - just sweeten to taste for a healthful, soul-warming treat the whole family, will enjoy often.
  • Autumn Sampler from Twinings: Our Autumn Sampler features three of our seasonal favourites - Cinnamon Apple Breakfast, Indian Spiced Chai, and Citrus Cinnamon & Spices, packed in a sturdy velvet keepsake box. There is nothing better on a crisp Autumn day than hot tea infused with the savoury spices and aromas of the season.
This is list is probably just scratching the surface. But all these teas have the one thing in common that makes them Autumnal teas: Spices, fruits, and herbs that can contribute to the senses of Autumn. What memories are held in those scents! Doesn't it make you want to curl up with a blanket, a good book, and a cup of tea?