24 Days of Tea

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I was lucky enough this year to get my hot little hands on David’s Teas tea advent calendar, thanks only to my cousin (in-law), Sean Hugunin, who picked one up for me in their San Francisco store (they sold out in just a couple of hours online). Seriously, Sean, I can’t thank you enough. I really loved this!

Chocolate Orange

I got to try a huge variety of different teas; many of which I’ve never even considered tasting, such as pu’erhs and oolongs. Some of them I didn’t care for too much (turns out I really don’t like Jasmine-flavored teas AT ALL), but it was such a fun experiment, and a nice surprise each morning!

Main Squeeze

Also, it forced me out of my tea comfort zone, which was a good exercise.

Day 5: Stormy Night

My very favorite was Stormy Night (above). It was chocolatey (what a surprise, I know) and malty. I’ll for sure be purchasing some of that once my tea supply dwindles a little bit.

24 Days of Tea

It also made for some fun photo subjects! Want to see more? Check out my 24 Days of Tea set on Flickr.

Forever Nuts

Forever Nuts is a delightful herbal blend from DavidsTea that’s perfect with a little Bailey’s, just before heading to bed.

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It contains beetroot so it turns pink, especially if you add some kind of creamer. (Or Bailey’s).

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One of the things I quite like about it is, the following morning, the leaves act as a really good blend with almost any of the black teas I favor in the morning, adding a great nutty flavor (especially to the chocolate teas I enjoy). I don’t typically have good luck re-steeping used leaves, but this tea is different. It’s very subtle, though, so I find I have to use a lot of it (as in, three to four teaspoons for a large mug) if I want a more robust flavor.

Definitely recommended. Simple, sweet, tasty. And caffeine free!

Tea Party

I’m leaving for a conference in Florida today, so yesterday after getting back from Wisconsin I was rather harried and preoccupied. AG gave me this note:

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“Dear Mommy
I hope you come soon”

It’s an invitation to a tea party. Of course, what could I do but drop everything and attend?

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She had thoughtfully set the table for three, complete with table cloth, cups and saucers, spoons, and a doll’s dress for added color.

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For added “Awww,” these are baby’s breath from an arrangement from her grandmother’s funeral.

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“World’s Biggest Tea Party”

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Thé au Chocolate

You guys, this stuff is good.
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I walked into Lupicia (another tea store I visited in San Fran) and told the guy there that I like my teas really sweet. He seemed a little affronted: “Well, we don’t have anything really sweet or really anything. We pride ourselves on teas with balance.” Whatever, tea zen dude, in my mind, the sweeter the tea, the better the taste.

He recommended their Thé au Chocolate, and that was a good choice. It tastes like hot chocolate, but – sophisticated hot chocolate.
UntitledHot chocolate with balance.

 

Pumpkin Chai

Hey! Tea for Tuesdays is back.

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I was in San Francisco a few weeks back, and one of the things that I did while there was purchase a lot of tea. One of the places I went to was DavidsTea, which I’ve been meaning to try for a while now. They have a lot of flavored teas, which I’m all about (serious tea drinkers are now clutching their pearls. They should just stop reading now, because I’m going to put in milk and sugar). Basically I want my tea to taste like chocolate, caramel, almonds, cream … you get the idea.

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One of the teas I purchased at Davids was Pumpkin Chai. So yummy! Creamy and sweet, with a twinge of pumpkin spice. It maybe could use a little more spice? I make my teas pretty strong (typically 3-4 teaspoons for a 2-cup mug), but I dilute them with half-and-half, so maybe it’s not fair of me to suggest the tea isn’t spicy enough.

Let me tell you, I have tried every kind of creamer and creamer substitute: soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, 2% cow milk, whole milk, heavy whipping cream … and half-and-half is the best (sorry, vegan friends). Just the right amount of thickness and creaminess. I use four tablespoons.

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Yeah, I know that’s a lot. It’s really good, though.

I also pretty routinely add two teaspoons of sugar.




Squee! New tea!

This was waiting for me at work this morning. @artoftea #tea #PhotoToaster

The tea order that I placed a while ago came in on Friday! But I had it sent to my office, and I didn’t go into the office on Friday (had to stay home with kiddo who was temporarily without childcare), and, although I was scheduled to go in on Sunday, I didn’t, because of a giant, nasty storm (it really would’ve been nice to have the tea then …).

Anyway, I have the tea now! But I haven’t had an adequate amount of time to taste any of them before reviewing them. You know, because it’s so important to my public that I have time to reflect on this. For science and all. So! Expect a review of one of these next week.

I can tell you that they all smell and look wonderful …

Infuse me

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If you drink a lot of loose tea, you struggle with how to make it without getting bits of tea dregs in your finished drink. At least I did, when I used to use those little ball-type infusers. Tea always escaped.

Now I use fine strainers (like this), which work great. But still, with roobios teas, little bits escape even the finest of infusers. But not in this bad boy (left)!

 

 

 

 

I can’t remember exactly what this thing is called; I can’t remember where I got it. But it’s perfect for not letting any tea grounds escape into your drink. You can find similar tea pot infusers here and here, among other places. I suspect mine came from Zhi and they just look different now; I’ve had mine for a while.

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There’s a fine plastic strainer thing that attaches to the bottom and keeps all the tea inside when it’s steeping.

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And then when you’re done, you set the whole pot on top of a mug, which opens a valve in the bottom and allows the tea to flow through to your mug, while the grounds are stuck in the teapot. It’s ingenious!

My only complaint is that it is difficult to clean, whatever anybody tries to tell you. You have to at least rinse it out right away if you can’t scrub it good immediately after a cuppa, because the tea stains terribly. I finally tossed it in the dishwasher a few weeks ago (I was reluctant to do so because of … dishwasher soap residue or something? I guess?), and that helped a lot. So every few steeps I’ll toss it in the dishwasher again (yes, yes, I scrub it with soap and water after every use!).

This morning I was feeling daring and I experimented with a blend of Teavana’s Taj Masala Chai and White Ayurvedic Chai. Not a wise move. The mix leaves a smoky, coffee-like taste in the back of my throat which I do not care for. Live and learn, I guess!

Happy steeping!

Paris

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Note – I typically drink the loose tea. But I do have some bags on hand. Let me know if you’d like to try it sometime!

I first tried Paris by Harney & Sons at a great bakery/cafe in Yakima while visiting my sister last year.

Thé parisien

If you’re ever in Yakima, you really should go to the Essencia Bakery.

They topped it off with frothed milk, and I thought it was the best tea I’d ever tasted. Immediately I purchased some myself. It’s pretty strong (or at least, I brew it that way, with 3 teaspoons loose tea) and invigorating. It smells delightfully fruity, although I don’t see anything but black tea when I look at the leaves. It’s got bergamot in it, which I thought I didn’t like, because I don’t like Earl Gray tea (don’t judge me, tea aficionados), and which I just learned today is a kind of a citrus fruit! Which would explain the fruity-ness.

It’s still one of my very favorites. For my birthday that year, Sis got me a milk frother, so I can better replicate the taste at home. It does taste like Paris.

Stump Teapot*

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My sis got me this cute teapot for my birthday this year. It’s great to have at work, to steep loose leaf tea in. Why? Because of this:

photoThe strainer inside is very fine, so even rooibos tea leaves won’t sneak through (I hate it when that happens!). And it’s super-easy to clean. You can’t put it on the stove, though, so make sure you have access to boiling water.

Want one? You can get it here.

 

 

*I was going to call this post “L’chaim!”, because the brand of this teapot is “For Life,” and every time I see the name stamped in the teapot and strainer, I think of this:

 

Just me, then?

Blending

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I’ve been enjoying some Sweet Desert Delight before I go to bed lately (not always with Bailey’s, I assure you). I’ve been making it with five teaspoons of tea, which seems like a lot, but I like my tea flavorful, I guess. Anyway, the other day I thought I’d save the grounds and mix it with Chocolate the following morning.

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Pretty good! And now I don’t feel so bad about using 5 teaspoons of tea, since it’s for two steepings. It adds a bit of complexity and spice to the Chocolate, which is nice.

I just have to remember that the Sweet Desert Delight has to steep for a few minutes by itself before adding the Chocolate. So it adds a bit of complexity to the brewing process, too.