Thursday, July 31, 2014

SerendipiTea: Chocolate A-Peel, A Tea Review

It is time to admit defeat and take up Paper Craft. Try as I might I cannot think of a way to make a Minecraft Blaze out of Perler Beads and not have it look really bad, same with the new Guardian mobs. I simply must have these for my desk, so my other option is to buy ink for my printer, a new Xacto knife, and some decent paper and make them. The reason I have been hesitant is because I know this will turn into an obsession and next thing you know I will end up having a huge Minecraft diorama on one of my shelves...and I am not sure I can spare the space just yet. Clearly I will just have to get a new set of shelves.

Today's tea is quite appealing to my inner child, Chocolate A-Peel (ing) actually! A blend of Kenyan black tea, Rooibos, Citrus, and Chocolate and creamy goodies from SerendipiTea, a substitute for my favorite childhood candies, chocolate oranges! You know, the kind that comes in foil that you smash onto a table to separate it into little chocolate slices, really whoever thought of mixing chocolate and oranges together was a genius. The aroma of this particular dessert tea is pretty rich, with strong notes of woody rooibos, creamy cocoa with almost a chocolate liqueur tinge to it, a bit of caramel, a bit of apple, and lastly a potent zing of oranges. It is very sweet and rich, but not too sweet, very much so the difference between a yummy slice of chocolate and a giant chocolate cake.

After submerging the leaves into their hot bath (you're in hot water now, bub...really threatening leaves helps...ok no it doesn't, even if it is caused Agony of the Leaf) and letting them steep, it is time to sniff some soggy leaves! The aroma is still pretty sweet, also very woody with strong notes of orange and chocolate. It is really funny, the more I sniff Rooibos the more I like it, I went through a phase a few years ago where I really disliked it, so glad that has passed. The liquid is so much chocolate, it is like sniffing a bar of chocolate with notes of malt and oranges with a slightly woody finish.

As is usual with teas that have bits of chocolate as part of their ingredients, the top has a bit of an oily film, giving it a slightly oily mouthfeel. However, the rest of the mouthfeel is quite smooth, none of the dryness that usually accompanies Rooibos. The taste is super rich, it starts out malty and woody with strong notes of chocolate and caramel, this turns into a bright zing of orange which is like a little bit of sunshine in the dense night of chocolate. Lastly the tea finishes off with lingering caramel and creamy sweetness, definitely a tea for someone with a sweet-tooth or a sugar craving (which conveniently I have both of at the moment). Although I am still craving chocolate oranges, I think I am going to have to stock up on them this holiday season and try to not eat them all before New Years.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Good Life Tea: Kyoto Cherry Rose Organic Green, a Tea Review

Ugh, I am having the worst writers block right now, which is so annoying! Usually on days where I don't do anything constructive (I have had a really off, pain filled day today, yuck) I can think of some clever story or nerdy reference. Nope, not today, sorry everyone but yours truly is off in la-la land with my head in the clouds.

Today's tea does not have its leaves in the clouds, but is more down to earth and floral. Good Life Tea's Kyoto Cherry Rose Organic Green is a blend of cherry flavoring, sencha style Chinese green tea (meaning it is steamed rather than pan fried) and rose petals. You all know my weakness for roses in tea, they just smell so wonderful and taste wonderful as well. In theory this tea is a really good green tea for those who are not a fan of teas that are too grassy, vegetal, or just green, a good 'intro to green teas' kind of tea. The aroma of this tea is a nice blend of cherries and roses with just a gentle touch of the green base. It is very much the green of fresh vegetation, like the leaves of a rose bush or cherry tree. Sweet and summery, this tea evokes gardens in full bloom.

Once the leaves have been steeped in their little basket, the aroma of roses and cherries practically fills up my tea lair. One thing I will give this tea credit for, the cherries smell like fresh fruit and not fake cherry candy, that is something I always appreciate. Underneath the aroma of cherries and roses there is a gentle hint of vegetation. The liquid without its soggy leafy friends is sweet, a blend of freshly mown hay, honey, roses in full bloom, and fresh cherries.

The taste is, well, light and uninspiring, which is a surprise after such a strong aroma. There is a light rosy taste, a bit of freshly mown hay and green vegetation, and a tiny bit of cherry at the finish. I think if I first sipped this tea without sniffing it first I would not be disappointed, the tea is very light and the flavors are clear, just very delicate. However I did sniff it and was expecting rich roses and sweet cherry juice, more body to this tea. I find myself a bit confused on how to think about this tea, on the one hand I enjoyed its delicate flavor, on the other hand I was expecting more.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

SerendipiTea: Buddha's Fingers, A Tea Review

Remember how about a week or so ago I was lamenting my hands and wrists hurting because of writing too much? Well after getting myself some very swank looking wrist guards (I look like a Mortal Kombat Ninja) and only writing when necessary, my wrists are finally pain free. This is extra exciting because I can get back to folding my origami, which I have missed immensely. First thing to work on is my garland of Toshie's Jewels for my Tea Lair and then I think I am going to make some stars. My Lucky Star jars are totally empty after they all found a new home, so time to refill them.

Today's tea is Buddha's Fingers from SerendipiTea, a nice amber oolong (meaning it has a higher oxidation than some of its more vibrantly green friends) from Wen Shan in northern Taiwan. The aroma of the little curled leaves is toasty and tasty! It is a blend of toasted sesame stems and tobacco with a touch of freshly broken green stems and a finish of coal. The aroma is more savory than sweet, reminding me of autumn fires at the end of a day.

Into the gaiwan it goes (fun fact, this was the first time I used this gaiwan after it arrived in the mail) for a nice steeping and slight unfurling. The aroma of the now soggy leaves is quite rich with notes of smoke, tobacco, toasted sesame seeds, and an underlying sweetness. This sweetness is like old orchids and a touch of wildflower honey. The liquid is mild with notes of sweet yeasty bread, butter, toasted sesame seeds, and a tiny touch of orchids at the finish.

This is a smooth tea in mouthfeel but slightly sharp in taste, it is an interesting contrast. The taste starts out with sharp, almost bitter, tabacco and rich toasted sesame seeds. This fades to a caramelized nut taste that lingers for quite a while as a sweet aftertaste.

For the second steeps's aroma my nose was greeted with a very toasty roasty kick, like a blend of toasted bread and roasted nuts, along with a sweet caramelized sugar finish. The taste is pretty potent, starting out with an almost sour tabacco taste that causes me to salivate a lot, which in turn makes the taste come off as very sweet. After that initial fun flip-flop the taste is toasted sesame and caramelized sugar with a slightly dry finish. This is a pretty potent tea, not for the faint of heart, which I like, and find myself wondering how this tea would hold up to Grandpa Style Brewing.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Yezi Tea, Yi Fu Chun Black Tea, A Tea Review

I am so worn out! I spent the day redoing my room to make room for my newest treasure. Ben's parents wanted to get rid of an antique writing desk that had been in their family for at least three generations, possibly four. In a near spastic fit I claimed that thing in a heartbeat, I have a real weakness for antiques and desks, so it was the double treasure. Now I just need to get another tea kettle so I can have tea in the bedroom and in the tea lair!

Today's tea is from Yezi Tea, Yi Fu Chun, a tippy golden tea from the Nanhu Mountains in Fujian, China. Apparently these mountains are covered in a dense fog 200 days a year, meaning the tea that grows there is more or less kissed by clouds, it seems to make it a bit whimsical to me. Add the fog to my intense love of fuzzy golden teas (they are just so cute!) and that makes me a happy tea sipper, or at the very least an interested one. Oh my that is a pleasant and heavy aroma, it seems the leaves collected the dense and heavy feeling of fog rather than the wispy one. There are notes of oak wood, molasses, cocoa, and a touch of smoke. It is intense, not sweet, but more like a rich molasses cookie and cocoa powder.

After the golden leaves have been steeped (and have left their delicate fuzzies behind) the aroma is still strong in the real of molasses and chocolate, though this time it has a sweetness the dry leaves lacked, also a tiny hint of loam. The liquid is even sweeter, retaining the chocolate notes but adding in some delicious stewed plums and cherries.

I decided to do something a little different with this tea, I brewed it Western Style! The first steep is incredibly sweet, like a bit of peaches and honey mixed with my tea! There are also notes of molasses and oak wood with a slight hint of smoke at the finish. The tea manages to be very rich while maintaining an air of lightness about it.

For the second steep the aroma is sweet, with notes of stewed fruit and roasted peanuts, there is a delicate hint of smoke at the finish. The taste is much richer with notes of oak wood and roasted peanuts, this fades to molasses, and lastly a delicate hint of smoke and peaches. Kind of like the way peaches cooked on a grill tastes, this lingers as an aftertaste. This tea is delicious and very smooth, I like it!
Secretary Cat takes a note on the effectiveness of catnip

Saturday, July 26, 2014

An Auspicious Tea Set, A Tea Gear Review

Ah, freshly dyed hair is always such a good feeling, especially when it is a shade of blue. I have spent most my life envying vibrantly blue birds, wishing my drab Peahen ash blonde hair was more of a Peacock blue. Then I grew up and realized, Holy Plumage Batman, I can dye my hair whatever color I want thanks to the art of science...and cosmetics! So having had my hair pretty much every color of the rainbow, I tend to stick with either Grackle Blue Black or some shade of blue, this time dark teal. Rock on my feathered friends.

Oddly enough, for all my rambling about feathers, this review is centered around bats. Specifically my new amazing tea set procured from China by way of ebay shop StreetShop88. This lovely blue set consists of a Gaiwan, a Cha Hai (or pitcher, fairness cup, or tureen) and a pair of cute cups. A little backstory, I have two other gaiwans...my fish themed travel gaiwan and my now quite chipped white gaiwan, I wanted a third one specifically I wanted a third matched set for everyday use. It took me about a month and a half of window shopping till I found the one I wanted.

I had a few specifications: it needed to be 100ml or less, it had to have a wide rim, it had to be less than $35, and lastly it had to have an awesome design. I had originally settled on a Phoenix themed set from the same store and then I saw the bats and it was all over, I had to have that one. Bats and the round Shou character are very auspicious symbols in Chinese art, five bats, according to A Dictionary of Chinese Symbols by Wolfram Eberhard (my go to source for all Chinese symbolism) represent the Five Blessings-a long life, riches, health, love of virtue, and a natural death. The Shou character represents Longevity, it is a symbol that I like to have around.

Symbolism and aesthtics aside, how does this set function? First off, I don't burn my sensitive little fingers, I love my fish gaiwan to pieces, but its fairly small rim tends to heat up very quickly meaning on steeps that go on a big long end with me going 'ouch' a lot. The really wide rim and equally wide and somewhat squat body means that leaves get to really roll around and unfurl beautifully.

This set was put together beautifully, when you pour off a steep from the gaiwan into the pitcher, there is a perfect amount for both cups. No leftover and no one gets left out, this is the first set I have had where I get that result. The Cha Hai makes me exceptionally happy, it pours wonderfully and looks like a creamer. Also I absolutely adore that inside the gaiwan and cups the Shou character is printed inside.

For the most part there are no real flaws with this set. There are a few errors on the printed design of the key pattern on the rim of the gaiwan's lid, but oddly I find this a bit endearing. The only other problem is it is fairly thick porcelain so the temperature tends to stay pretty warm, this might make brewing green teas a little difficult, but that is easy to adjust with cooler water or shorter steep time.

Over all I love this thing, I recommend it if you are looking for a new gaiwan tea set, especially if you love bats!
freshly dyed and still kinda damp, also hey, the tea set photo bombed!

Friday, July 25, 2014

SerendipiTea: The Big Sleep, A Tea Review

Well here I am, mostly back in the proverbial tea saddle, by which I mean my desk chair and not lounging in bed. I am still a bit out of it from my Endoscopy and of course have to wait for the results of my biopsy, but first impressions have pros and cons. It looks like I may not have Celiac disease, just Gluten Intolerance and IBS...which is the good part, bad part is my stomach has some nasty inflammation and ulceration, if I am lucky it is just from medication or bile reflux, if I am unlucky the H. pylori never did get knocked out of my system all the way. I will never wish that infection on anyone, the methods to remove it are as bad as the infection, at least it was to me. No use counting evil chickens before they hatch though, for now I am just going to relax with tea. 

And speaking of tea we have today's tea from SerendipiTea (whose name makes me smile) who recently sent me a nice pile of samples to try out, I wanted something relaxing so I decided The Big Sleep was the way to go today. An herbal blend of Anise, Brahmi, Coconut, Honeybush, Pomegranate Peel, and Vanilla Bean (all organic) blended with the aim of putting the sipper into a nice dream state. I really like SerendipiTea's use of references, as a massive Geek I always appreciate them, even if I have not read The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (or seen the movie inspired by the book) I certainly recognize the reference. The aroma of the dry leaves is pretty interesting, a blend of herbaceous and spice notes with a touch of sweet vanilla, nutty coconut, woody honeybush, and a hint of fruity tartness at the finish. It is quite unlike any blend I have sniffed before, I especially like how well the anise and coconut compliment each other. 

Giving the tea a nice long steeping (which is so unusual when I do so much Gongfu brewing, it feels just so long!) the aroma from the wet leaves waft up to my nose. The aroma is a blend of sweetness and spices, it reminds me of my favorite Indian market's spice aisle, but with an addition of coconuts. It smells soothing it me, but that could be because I am having a nice nostalgia. The liquid without its leafy friends (or more herbs and spice friends) has an aroma very similar to the wet leaves, but it is woodier.

Ahh, this tea is quite soothing. It has an oily coating from the coconut and dryness from the honeybush, it is an interesting mouthfeel, since it starts out oily and fades to dry at the finish. The taste is a mild blend of sweet vanilla and caramel and gentle anise. There is an herbal taste to it as well that reminds me a bit of fennel seeds. I am not sure if it is the tea or convenient luck, but I am feeling very relaxed and wanting to go curl up and nap. There is also a slight tingly feeling in my throat, similar to the tingling of cloves, which is nice. This is a nice sipping before sleep tea, it is tasty without being overpowering. 


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tea People: Desi Masala Chai, a Tea Review

I am going to apologize in advance if there is no blog post tomorrow, because I am going in for an Endoscopy, and they tend to leave you a bit dopey and derpy afterwards. Man, my doctor group that I currently have is awesome, I was expecting to have to wait at the very least a week before I could get a biopsy, but only a day, that is so crazy. Color me impressed, though slightly cranky about not being able to eat or drink after midnight. No late night sipping for me tonight.

Today's tea is Desi Masala Chai from Tea People, a blend of Assam tea, Cardamon, Ginger, Cinnamon, and Cloves. I am so enamored of Chai that is loaded with big chunks of spices and whole cardamon pods, I tend to giggle maniacally when I get my greedy little fingers on some like that. Not only does this chai have some awesome looking ingredients, Tea People is one of those companies that is really focuses doing good things for tea growers, I suggest giving their website a looking over, it is pretty nifty. The aroma of the tea is expectantly spicy, deliciously so, I would go as far as mouth-wateringly so, but it is no secret that I go gaga for spices. The Assam is rich and malty with notes of molasses as well, it is quite sweet, also the spices are strong but well balanced. None of this cinnamon elbowing its way to the front or the ginger tripping the cardamon so it can be the bell of the ball. We all know cardamon is polite and would never do anything to be a dominating aroma.

After giving the dry leaves and spices a nice steeping, the now wet leaves (and accouterments) still smell aaaamazing. Very rich and malty with sweet molasses and intense spices. As with the dry leaves the spices dance together perfectly and do not engage is spicy slap fighting for dominance. The liquid (pre-cream and sugar) is very rich, almost heady (or at the very least intoxicating) with strong notes of malt and molasses and intense and well balanced spice. I am practically bouncing with excitement to try this this.

Adding cream (actually half and half) and sugar for a traditional chai, my favorite way to sip this spicy, Indian tea. Oh man, this is one delicious chai, it is extremely rich and malty with sweet notes of molasses and an almost earthy finish to it. Of course the spices are having a party across my palate, the cardamon and ginger seem to be dominate and the cinnamon and cloves takes a backseat. Even though those two dominate they still seem really balanced, it is not a kick in the face of ginger or cardamon (cardamon can do no wrong!!) but more of a gentle strength. Personally I am a very big fan of Chai that are more dominated by cardamon (no surprise there) or ginger, but I think those who are also fans of the other spices will not feel neglected.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Butiki Teas: Tamarind Pop, a Tea Review

You know, I am like so many, a great lover of music. I have played it, I listen to it all the time, it just shapes my life. For all my love of music though I always have a hard time narrowing down a favorite band, there are just too many different bands and musicians for different moods. But it got me thinking, which is the one that fits for all my moods...well that was simple, it is Queen. So I think maybe it is safe to say my favorite band is Queen...apropos of nothing, and now, tea.

Today's tea is a blend from Butiki Teas called Tamarind Pop, originally dreamed up as a custom order, they found it so interesting they decided to make it a regular product. Starting off with a base of Organic Black Tea from the Guranse Estate in Nepal, this is blended with natural (vegan) flavorings and Safflower, for a tamarind like taste. The aroma is leafy, like fresh vegetation, this fades to vanilla sweetness and a nutty tone. At the end of the sniff the aroma is sweet and a touch floral. I do not smell much in the way of tamarind, but it has been a long time since I sniffed any.

Steeping the tea, the wet leaves have a great blend of muscatel, fresh vegetation, and creamy vanilla sweetness. I might have spent more time than is necessary sniffing the wet leaves. The liquid without the leaves is vanilla sweet, creamy, a touch of fresh vegetation and a touch of tamarind. It is sharp yet earthy, tamarind is one of those strange smelling fruit, or really, strange smelling pods.

Tasting this tea gave me a bit of a surprise, because it reminds me a bit of coffee! There is also sweet vanilla and cocoa with a distinct tamarind tang at the end. This tea is a little odd, but also kinda tasty, it certainly reminds me of tamarind, which I have mixed feelings about because I am very hit or miss with it. I tend to like tamarind in things, but find it overbearing on its own. Luckily this tea is not at all overbearing. It is bold and has an interesting blend of flavors, I doubt I would seek it out again, but I would not run in terror if it was offered to me.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Adagio Teas: Green Rooibos Key West, A Tea Review

Oh man, waiting for a possibly life altering doctor's appointment is tiring! In two days I go to a GI doctor to find out whether or not yes, that rather ill thought out dismissal of me having Celiac disease after an unplanned biopsy when I was 21 was correct of not. Actually this will be a lot of looking at medical history and bloodwork and scheduling a new biopsy. I have been pretty gluten light for years (out of fear!) but lately I noticed that gluten makes me feel like death, so to prepare I have been gorging on the stuff, I feel like a corpse, but it is for science!

But enough about me, how are you? Fine I hope, enjoying some nice sunny weather while sipping tea? This is a good time of year for lounging on a tropical beach while sipping teas, but if you are like me and live too far away from beaches, you can evoke the feel with Green Rooibos Key West by Adagio Teas! With a blend of Green Rooibos, Marigold Flowers, Natural Passionfruit Flavor, Orange Peel, Mango Pieces, Natural Mango Flavor, and Natural Apricot Flavor, it is certainly a tropical party. The aroma is a great blend of tropical fruit and apricot, citrus, a touch of floral, and a tiny hint of woodiness and bamboo. It certainly lives up to its name as of sniffing the dry leaves, which is always a good sign.

Whoa nelly, steeping the dry leaves has turned the Tea Lair into a tropical paradise, minus the coconuts that I usually associate with the tropical things, but that is ok. Sniffing the now soggy leaves inside their little basket reveals some tantalizing aromas of fruity sweetness, primarily mango and apricot, there is a hint of floral in the middle, and at the end there is a nice zing of citrus. The liquid without its basket of leafy bits has a sweet and mild fruity aroma, very tropical, a fusion of citrus, passionfruit, and mango.

Tasting time! The first sip starts off a little dry and mild then all of a sudden a tropical fruit stand explodes in my mouth like a Jamaican Kool-Aid Man busting through a beach bungalow. It is not overwhelmingly sweet, more like delicate nectar of mango, passionfruit, and orange...this fades to a gentle floral and fairly delicate apricot taste that lingers into the aftertaste. The rooibos is there, but it is more like a guidebook on a tropical tour than part of the actual scenery, useful as a base but not overwhelming.

I am a shame to my proud Southern upbringing as in I rarely make traditional iced tea anymore, when I want iced tea I just cold brew it in my fridge for a few hours using my handy travel mug. Actually I am a shame to my upbringing even more because I just do not drink much iced tea, but some days are too hot and I want something cool. This tea seemed like a perfect candidate to cold steep for an evening sip (on my perpetual quest to find more evening teas that I love) plus iced tropical teas are just where it is at, yo. Remember that dryness and bursting in of fruit flavor? Totally gone as a cold brew, instead it is a smooth fruity sweet transition to a cool relaxation, it starts out with mango, then to apricot, then orange, until finally I am left with the afteratste of passionfruit. Why the apricot and passionfruit get reversed in cold steep is beyond me. Usually when I cold steep teas I just mention it as being good and if it had any awesome qualities, this is one of the few times that I think it is better cold. The flavors are more subtle and relaxing, it is like the difference between a busy afternoon and sunset. And with that, I am going to go lounge in bed fanning myself while sipping my cold tea, because it is HOT!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Good Life Tea: Genmaicha, A Tea Review

Just a typical Sunday in my neck of the woods, I slept in, the weather is getting to be unpleasantly hot again, and everybody (but my working sweetheart) is home. It has been a mostly lazy day for me, just catching up on some reading and tea sipping.

Today's tea is an old classic and much loved staple of my tea collection, Genmaicha! This specific rice filled bancha is from Good Life Tea, a company just recently brought to my attention. It is always nice to discover new places to find tea, especially if you are a hardcore addict like me. The aroma is exactly what you expect from a Genmaicha, if you have never had the pleasure of sniffing one, the notes are a blend of roasted rice, a touch of honey sweetness, a bit of freshly mown grass and hay, and just a touch of fresh vegetation. It is a delightful blend of green tea and popped rice, the aroma is one of those that has always been very homey to me.

After I give the tea a steeping (oh great tea gods do not smite me for not using my kyusu, I didn't want to get out of my chair) in a tea basket, the aroma of the now wet leaves is even more toasted rice. In fact I am pretty sure I cannot even smell the green tea over all the delicious toasted rice aroma. The liquid without its leafy and rice friends has an aroma that is a blend of rice, a touch of grass, and a bit of butter. It is very mild and subtly sweet.

The taste of this Genmaicha is a nice blend of green and rice. There are tasty notes of hay, grass, and a touch of honey at the start, this fades to a nice burst of toasted rice and a touch of nuttiness. The finish is creamy and a touch sweet, with a nice lingering toasted rice taste. This is certainly a tasty Genmaicha, it evokes that feeling of being comfy at home while tasting good, I approve.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

An International Tea Adventure With Four Mysterious Korean Teas

Yesterday I had quite the adventure, Ben and I had a day out gallivanting around town visiting our favorite stores. At our local gaming store he a new game that we have been lusting after (Dropzone Commander, hello Wargames, at long last!) and I needed to swing by my much loved International 888 Market to get more of my trusted Sea Dyke Brand Shui Hsien Oolong. While there I noticed a bunch of Korean instant (and one not instant) 'herb teas' for 6 for a dollar. I had one of those 'let's have a fun, cheap adventure' moments and got one of each. At the time, I had no idea what these were, well except the Corn Tea, which is a much loved treat of mine, I have used the interwebs to hopefully properly identify these teas. If by chance I have gotten them wrong, please feel free to comment a correction!

First up is (what I believe to be) Damtuh brand Sprouting Brown Rice Mugwort Tea, made from germinated brown rice, mugwort, wheat, black beans, barley, and job's tears. Snipping the little package open and giving it a good sniff (while not getting powder up my nose, win!) you can certainly tell this is a rice and grain based drink. It smells like sticky rice, regular rice, and cereal with a little bit of sweetness, kinda reminds me of Cream of Rice.

After I mix it with warm water and give it a thorough stirring...and then let it cool enough so I don't burn my tongue, it is time to taste this rice based tea. It is really quite tasty, if you are into drinking warm and slightly creamy tea that tastes like a mixture of nuts, green things, and sweet cream of rice. Conveniently I am, but as Ben was kind enough to tell me, this one might be a very acquired taste. Especially since you have to stir it constantly or it more or less forms cream of rice at the bottom of your cup.

Next on our adventure is Damtuh's Han Tea which is a blend of Jujubes, pine nuts, ginger,almonds, and  concentrated Ssang Hwa Tea powder. This one smells a lot like nuts, brown sugar, dates, and dried fruit. It is super sweet, almost syrupy, and adding water to it makes it even sweeter.

This tea is an odd one, it starts out really sweet, like brown sugar oatmeal with dates and nuttiness, but it has a distinctly herbal bitterness at the finish that makes it a bit unpleasant. Also the nuts and bits floating around in the tea kept causing me issues, sadly I ended up dumping this one down the drain.

Every adventurer has a few hiccups in their journey, and now that mine is (hopefully) over, on to the next tea! This one is Damizle 10 Cereal Mix Powder Tea Drink for which I could find no real list of ingredients, just a promise that it has ten different cereals in it, fun! You know what, it smells like breakfast, like a mix of various Chex cereals, some barley, a little bit of oatmeal...it is a smorgasbord of grain.

This tea is delicious! I have such a weakness for teas that taste like cereal and grain that it is no surprise that I would love this, really I love everything about it. From its grainy almost pudding like texture to its variety of cereal tastes and sweetness. I could drink this for breakfast everyday if I wasn't going on a Gluten Free diet soon!

Last, but certainly not least, is good old Dong Shu Corn Tea! It is a nice tea made from roasted corn, the smell is like a mix of popcorn, sweetcorn, roasted coffee, and touch of burnt. It is another one of those smells that makes me feel like I am tucked under blankets on a cold day.

Oh dear, it seems I have been doing this wrong...one of those big ol' bags is enough to brew a pot of tea and not a cup. I guess I like this stuff strong! The taste is exactly like the smell, roasted corn, sweet corn, a touch of toast, and a bit of earthy graininess to it. There is also a similarity to roasted coffee, just without any of the coffee elements, it is probably the only roasted tea I have seen any real similarity to coffee other than a few Hojicha here and there. What can I say other than, have fun, visit your local Asian Market and find some new and quirky tea to try, who knows, maybe you will love it!
Also, new game! 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Tealux: Double Wall Glass Thermos w/ Metal Infuser, A Tea Gear Review

I promised myself I would do more tea gear reviews, because let's face it, behind every good tea is some awesome gear to make it. I mean you can just make tea in a mug using a microwave, I did that for years, but once you start getting into the 'hard stuff' you notice that you manage to amass a decent sized collection of tea paraphernalia. Since a lot of my goodies come from thrift stores and that makes it hard to review sometimes (no way to point others in the direction of getting said gear if they want it) so when I get tea gear I can review I am definitely going to do it.
Today's review is brought to you by the letter Tao

This review starts with a tragedy of sorts. I previously had an Aladdin Tea Infuser Mug for my out and about tea times, it worked decently except for the leaking problem (not a toss in the purse and go kinda mug) and over time I found myself want one without leakage. Also one that had a filter so I didn't have to stuff my teas in the basket. I think the Tea Infuser Mug heard my grumbling because about two months ago the blasted thing broke. So after months of comparison shopping for the cheapest thing that was exactly what I wanted, I stumbled across my new toy.
It is Hong Shui if anyone is curious, it takes to long steeps wonderfully

Meet the Double Wall Glass Thermos With Metal Infuser by Tealux. Actually the brand is Asiatica, but since they are only whole sale and I could not actually find the thermos on the website, we are just going to ignore the adorable teapot brand stamp on the bottom. I went with the middle size of 400ml (13.5oz) because I wanted  more tea but not quite THAT much more tea, and I am glad I stuck with the middle size because this thing is quite hefty, any bigger and I would need stronger arms.
The creepers approve of my new acquisition 
It does exactly what it says on the...err...tin, it keeps the tea nice and warm or nice and cool, depending. I have used it for both hot and cold steeping, I found that it started to either warm up or cool down respectively after about three hours. The only reason I know that is because I took a nap and woke up to room temperature tea, usually I have the tea chugged too quickly to notice. Since it is made with nice, sturdy, borosilicate glass it feels warm or cool to the touch, perfect for cooling me off on a hot day or cuddling close when I feel chilled. I may have taken that nap curled around a warm tea infuser earlier, not going to deny it.
No leak means a happy kitty tail!

The best part of this tea thermos is the not leaking all over me if I knock it over (or decide to nap with it) no more worrying about taking tea on the bus, or in my purse, or to a bookstore, it is awesome! The only time it has leaked in the time I have had it is when I didn't screw the lid on tight enough. Let us talk about the lid, for those who hate plastic (not me, obviously) there is a little in the lid, but it is BPA free and does not give a plastic taste. I mean maybe, just maybe, if you have it upside down all the time and have it in constant contact with your tea it will? I have not tested that, but so far the contact it has had with my tea did not impart any taste at all.

Lastly is the little metal infuser. It is adorable, it has a cute little handle and convientent little prongs so it sits on the lip of the thermos and does not let leaves escape into your mouth. The holes are small enough that even the most determined rooibos would really have to work to escape, and really if it manages to go through that much trouble it deserves to be eaten. One word of advice, do not be afraid to push the basket into the correct position. My first use of my fancy new thermos (it was with some Long Jing for those curious) I did not push the basket correctly into place because I was afraid of breakage (yes, I am a weenie, it is a sad truth) and a few little dragon blades slipped through and on my final sip the basket fell out and onto my face. It was at this point that I noticed 'oh, there is a lip for it to rest on, and hey there are little prongs too!' I suppose having a sweet boyfriend who gave the thermos its first wash might not have been the best thing since I just plopped in leaves and water and went. Silly me for not properly studying my new tea gear!