You know what is immensely satisfying? Building a deck in Magic and having it work, specifically having it work really well. I have a long and a bit weird history with this game, but only just now am playing it, my decks so far have been pre-constructed commander decks or ones Ben (whose head is more in game theory than mine) and the ones I have modified to make them my own have been mono black, but I love green black (Golgari pride and all that) so I made my first green black deck and thought Ben's red deck was going to end me, I was sitting at 1 life and he was at 18, but I ramped into a bunch of creatures and won the game. The run-back was real, the zombies, spiders, and saprolings were overwhelming.
The people at Tea Box Express were awesome enough to send me another box, and this one was quite the doozy! I was surprised by its weight when I picked it up off my porch, with good reason, it has a lot of stuff!
For all that I am a tea person, the first thing I tried was the cookie from WOW Baking, a Snickerdoodle! One of my favorite type of cookies (in competition with shortbread, gingersnaps, almond crescents, and Russian teacakes) plus it is gluten free! I have mentioned before that I am not gluten free, but I am gluten limited, I hesitate to say gluten intolerant since that might not exist and my allergy tests are contradictory...I do know that if I eat too much it affects me the same way as when I eat too much dairy, but it is only wheat and not necessarily gluten, I think. IT IS CONFUSING, but it does mean I get to practice my gluten free baking and only use gluten indulgences for special occasions (and Hot Pockets) and cookies are one of the things I really struggle with. This cookie was a welcome treat because holy moly was it moist!! Nicely sweet and thick with a mellow cinnamon, I could have gone for stronger cinnamon but I like my snickerdoodles with a bit of oomph. Since it was light on cinnamon it meant I could share with Ben who usually hates cinnamon, so I consider that a win!
The next thing I took a look at from the box was adorable green tea mints from Sencha Naturals, a Pink Dragonfruit and Cardamon Cinnamon. They are both made Matcha and the Pink Dragonfruit also has Sencha, and to keep the theme cohesive they are shaped like adorable leaves. I was at first a little apprehensive, since I really am not a fan of strong mint, a little is ok, but a lot is a no. So much so that if I chew gum I use cinnamon, my toothpaste is ginger, I use ginger candies instead of mint...there is a theme here. Luckily the mint is pretty mild, the Cinnamon Cardamon is pretty intense, great if you are a fan of Big Red or Red Hots, it is sweetened with coconut sugar and it tastes sweet and not at all like coconut, which I really like. The Pink Dragonfruit doesn't really taste like dragonfruit, but they are fruity and quite tasty, I have been nibbling on them a bit...makes my mouth burn a bit from eating so many but I don't mind too much. One little caveat I will give, don't eat these if you plan on tasting anything properly for a few hours, they will alter the taste of everything, which is fine if you are out and don't have tea, but if you try to taste tea after eating these it is not going to happen. Also I learned if you eat too many of them you might get a stomach ache, so don't do what I do and eat half the package in one sitting, no matter how tasty they are, moderation is a good thing...sometimes.
The teas in this box were very well rounded, a spherical theme! The first of the orbs I looked at were Lychee Blooming Tea by Chai Dairies, a new to me company! They are not kidding about the lychee, usually I find blooming teas are mostly enjoyably visually, they don't have a lot in the taste and aroma department, you brew them to enjoy the show or to give to your visiting family that wants tea because they are polite and don't really want tea...it is very specific. Still I indulge in them occasionally because they are very pretty! These balls have a surprisingly strong aroma, like an actual freshly peeled lychee is hiding underneath the leaves.
I was unaware that this was one of the flowers that blooms up as well as out, so I used the wrong teapot. Sadly the website does not list the ingredients so I have to guess, I recognize the lily blossom and jasmine, and I am assuming there is lychee flavoring of some sort since it is very intense in the aroma. Also very intense in the taste! It tastes like lychee nectar, the same way a can of lychees taste after you take out all the lychees and just chug the juice. Wow, this showcase is really making me seem like a bit of a pig, ah well, the truth is out. This is definitely the blooming tea to break out when wanting to impress guests, with a beautiful bloom and a distinct and strong flavor, it would be perfect to woo even the most diehard tea-hater. Unless they also dislike lychees, if that is the case just tell them to enjoy the show.
The last treat in this box of goodies is another round tea, Misty Peak's balls of Puerh, Shengy goodness, they say that the trilogy of orbs are autumn harvest, so I am assuming it is their 2015 autumn, but I am not sure since it does not say on the website. The packaging of this little set is really quite gorgeous, if I was wanting to get someone new into Puerh this is good starting set, I have in the past found their tea to be very approachable, being light on the bitterness that a lot of young sheng can have.
I waffled for a while on the best way to brew this one, usually I would just gongfu it and report back on the steeps, but that would make this blog super long, plus if I am right and this is the 2015 autumn I already reviewed it, so I looked at the website and saw 'Boiling hot or freezing cold water and everything in-between will make for a great cup of tea!' I am going to cold steep a ball of Puerh, I am such a rebel!! Before I stuck it in the fridge for the night I made sure to sniff it, the notes coming off were sweet, apricots and wildflowers mixing with gentle hay and a touch of grapes. This was a good idea, since it was a big ball I was able to do a combination cold steep and grandpa steep, adding water and sticking it back in the fridge between 'steeps' for a few hours. No matter how long the ball steeps it is never bitter, it starts very light blending delicate apricot and hay with a very faint spinach and mineral quality, very refreshing stuff. Later pours bring on stronger hay and spinach notes with a deeper apricot note and a touch of grapes. One downside to cold steeping this tea is it looses a lot of the exciting mouthfeel adventures that Sheng can take you on, mostly it is light and smooth. It was a great experience for a hot day, I am not sure I recommend steeping other shengs in this method (since I have never done it) but this one is approachable and mellow enough that it really worked.
If you want to give Tea Box Express a try use coupon code TEAHAPPY for 20% off the first box. This box was sent for review purposes by the company.