Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Cranberry Breeze Herbal - Simple Loose Leaf

I tried to get a good picture of this one, but the lighting isn't so great in my bedroom. This is my tea for the evening. It's one of my selections in my Simple Loose Leaf April subscription box. This is cranberry breeze herbal. The infusion is a beautiful dark rose color. It tastes like cranberry, but it has enough cherry to it that it's not too tart. This is the third night in a row that I've had it now, so obviously I quite like it. I'm blogging from my phone, so it's a little tricky. (Plus, I really wanted to try that out.) This, though, means that I'm not writing much.

Long Time No Post

Immortality Tea
Okay, it hasn't been that long, but it has been a little while. Sorry, I've been under the weather and life has been more than catching up with me. I've been drinking a lot of tea, and even taking some pictures, but I haven't been writing much about it. I will try to be better.

I shattered the beautiful clear ForLife NewLeaf mug that I was using for photographs so you could see the infusions I was drinking. Oops. I hit it with a pillow on accident and it fell off my table onto the heat vent. Yes, that meant glass everywhere. I wasn't 100% sure I liked the mug other than for pictures.
Shamrocks and Shenanigans

I replaced it with a white ForLife Curve mug like I had before. I like the weight a lot better, and I wasn't completely sold on the silicone lid/infuser holder that came with the NewLeaf mug. It seemed to hold scents from various teas if I wasn't careful with it. The Curve mug just isn't quite as nice for pictures.

Moroccan Mint
I did recently get a whole bunch of tea I ordered from the internet delivered to my house. I was gone for a few days and many, many packages showed up. I look forward to sharing them with you. Two different subscription boxes (although one is a February box for a subscription I have signed up for, and not a new month's box.) Tea from China, which is a replacement for an order that went into a post office and never came back out. Tea delivered from Boulder. I'm a happy camper.
Starry Night

So to tide you over, here are some pictures of tea I have taken in the past week and a half. (You can tell when I had the NewLeaf mug and after I shattered it.)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

That morning mug - Green Kukicha Organic

I'm dealing with some issues at work, and we have what we call a SWAT team going. Conference calls first thing in the morning have become the norm. Fortunately, I'm lucky enough to be able to work remotely when needed,so most mornings my portion of that conference call takes place from the comfy chair while I'm in my jammies, accompanied by a kitty and a mug of tea.

This morning, the mug was Green Kukicha Organic from Deckan Coffee Company.

The tea itself is traditionally a "farmer's tea", and it's made up of the stem and twig pieces, as well as some leaves, which is very different from most other teas as it has the parts that you normally don't see in your tea. Usually, you just get the leaves. After doing a little more research, this tea is generally lower in caffeine, so perhaps not the best tea for in the morning, but it would be nice as an afternoon or evening tea.

One thing I like about this tea is how clear it brews up, although it doesn't look it today. My mug looks smeary to me. It's nice and light, yellowy in color. The flavor is almost creamy, but very green and vegetable. It isn't astringent at all, which is very nice. It's easy drinking, fresh flavored. If you can find a version of this tea, I highly suggest at least trying it.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

No Caffeine and a Mitten Sort of Feel - Torch Lake Berry Organic Herbal Blend

My husband, the best ever, has been doing a lot of work in the house reorganizing everything in our bedroom, which is stirring up a lot of dust and whatnot. Of course, it's sent my allergies and asthma into overdrive. After multiple spats of bronchospasms, my throat is feeling a little scratchy.

Of course, this calls for some tea; however, I really need to not have any more caffeine tonight.

Into my cupboard I dove, looking for something that would hit the spot. I found a great local herbal blend, Torch Lake Berry Organic. Torch Lake, in the northern Lower Peninsula, is Michigan's largest inland lake. It's a beautiful area. This tea is actually a rooibos blend with lots of fruit to it. It's pleasantly tart from cranberry, but still just a touch sweet. The online description does not list strawberries as being among its ingredients, but I am fairly certain they are in it. It's actually almost too tart tonight, but I hesitate to add any sugar to it.

It's a beautiful deep reddish color in my mug, although I'm sorry to say I won't be posting a picture. I'm enjoying it in a dimly lit room that is not being photograph friendly. Maybe I'll update this post a different time with a picture.

I actually would like to try this one as an iced tea, but that's not happening tonight, either.

Some like it smokey - Lapsang Souchong by Harney & Sons

I don't seem to have a lot of black teas in my cupboard. That's not necessarily on purpose. I just haven't tried that many black teas yet. I saw this Harney & Sons Lapsang Souchong on Amazon and threw it in my cart one day, and then completely forgot that I had done that. The 3oz tin is an add on item, and the purchase I had made that day was not enough to get my add on item added. So when I placed an order again a few days later, this was added. I was in a hurry and didn't even notice. I got a nice surprise when I opened the package!
I already drank half before I
remembered to take a picture

This is my second time drinking this tea.

I figured that I would try it that day I added it to my cart because of the description. It's smokey, which is how I love my scotch. When I open the tin, it is definitely smoked. Very smokey. Boiling water, and 5 more minutes, I have a steaming mug waiting for me.

The color is beautiful. Not too dark, but deep nonetheless. It's still quite smokey on the nose, but not as strong as the leaf was. A sip. The smoke is still there, but much more gentle than one might expect from how strong it is when opening the tin. (I don't think I'll be able to use that tin again, to be honest, that's how smokey it is.)

Today, I followed the suggestion from someone on Steepster to add maple syrup. That is where it's at, let me tell you. I normally don't drink my teas sweetened or lightened. I added just a touch of maple syrup from a local company, and everything just popped! What as a nice tea turned into a delicious tea. The addition of the syrup made the smokiness dance around my mouth. The black base of the tea even stepped forward more.

If you try this tea, I recommend drinking half of it without syrup, and then the last half with syrup, to experience the difference. Then you can decide for yourself how you want to enjoy it the next time. And remember to go easy on the syrup. The mug in this picture is 15oz. and I put in maybe a quarter of a teaspoon of real maple syrup for the whole thing. (And please, do not use fake maple syrup. Use the real thing. It is worth the money.)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Cold Steeped Iced Tea - Deckan Coffee Company Jasmine # 4 [Fair Trade] Organic

So another cool new item I bought for myself recently is a ForLife Mist Ice Tea Jug. I have been debating on this pitcher for a while now. I think I added it to my Amazon wishlist for the first time last summer. I bought it for myself a couple of weeks ago. It is money well spent, and I know it will be even more utilized as the weather warms.
(photo from ForLife)
So I've played with it a few times, tried a couple of different teas. I've decided so far that I like jasmines in it a lot. I did some jasmine pearls first, and now this is the second time I've done just the loose leaf non-pearl style.

The way this jug is designed the leaves stay in all the time. I would not want that in a hot brew at all, but doing this as a totally cold steep it's working pretty well. The filter keeps the loose leaves in and it sure looks pretty.

The leaves that are currently in my pitcher are Jasmine #4 Fair Trade Organic from Deckan Coffee Company. Deckan is a local coffee company that also has started carrying tea. My local, family-owned grocery store carries these in bulk at great prices, so I've got a lot of the Deckan teas in my cupboard. I don't know how they compare to other companies since I haven't had many other teas yet, but I like their teas pretty well. This jasmine, for example, has a great scent. I like the fact that it's fair trade, too.

Iced or cold steeping is a really easy process. Some people rinse their leaves first in hot water for a very brief steep of 30 seconds or less, some don't. I didn't. I just poured a bunch of loose leaf in the bottom of my pitcher, added cold water, and put it in the fridge. It's a good idea to start checking your tea after about 3 hours to see if it's at the level you want. I actually enjoy starting with about 3 hours and having some, but leaving it in the fridge and trying again a few hours later, and then a few hours after that, to try the different levels.

I put these leaves in on Wednesday and drank a good half of the pitcher. Since I'd put in more leaves than I should probably have to start, I just added more water and figured I'd see how it went. Then I didn't drink it later. Oops. Yeah, perhaps this has been in the fridge a little too long, but it still tastes pretty good. My wonderful husband decided he wanted to try it tonight. I warned him that the leaves might have steeped a little too long, but he said it tastes good and he likes it. Since he normally doesn't drink any of my teas, this is a huge step for him. (He then also asked me if they could be re-steeped again, and told me to add more water and we could see what happens. So I did, and we'll find out.)

The jasmine scent and flavor on this is very nice. It's a little oversteeped, so just starting to get a touch bitter. I'm surprised it's not more bitter now, actually. It has a beautiful, just barely grassy green color.

Flavored Matcha - Red Leaf Tea Amaretto Matcha

I first tried a flavored matcha last week. Red Leaf Tea has a program where they give away 1,000 samples every month of a different one of their flavored matchas, you just pay shipping. It's a great idea and a great deal. March's flavor is cheesecake. So I tried it. I loved it. Of course, I just did this as an iced latte, but it's fun and tastes good.

After trying it, I went through their website imagining what other flavors would be delicious in milk with some ice. I created a whole wish list on their site. One of the ones I thought would be yummy would be their amaretto matcha. And wouldn't you know it was on sale a few days later?! Perfect! I placed an order for that and a few other teas. Luckily, they're pretty close to me geographically, so it showed up a couple of days later.

This morning, I decided was an amaretto matcha latte kind of morning. Boy, am I glad I did.

I turned on my electric kettle to heat up some water. It isn't necessary, but it makes things a lot easier with hot water, I've found.

I opened the pack of matcha and the sweet almond scent drifted up. Yum! (I picked the distinctive flavor, when I ordered, which is one step up from their standard delicate. I wanted to be able to taste the amaretto for sure.) I reached for my quarter teaspoon...and couldn't find it. I searched everywhere. (I have a feeling it was accidentally knocked to the floor and is now a new cat toy.)

Eventually, I gave up and used a long iced tea spoon which has a small, not deep at all, bowl to the spoon. Two lightly rounded scoops of the matcha went into the kitchen sifter sitting on the cup of my cocktail shaker. (Everything I've read on the internets says that sifting is important. I don't know for sure that it is, but it's an easy step to do.) To that, I added about 1/4 cup of the hot water that was ready by this point. I don't have a whisk that works well in the shaker, so I just used that same ice tea spoon and mixed the matcha and water into a thick, dark green liquid. I added a bunch of ice and topped with milk - 2% - maybe 12oz.

The top went on the shaker and I shook. Things got nice and frothy. The milk turned light green. Everything seemed happy. I gave it a few more good shakes just to be sure, and poured it into my glass. (I left the ice behind, but you could do this with or without ice.)

And then I tasted.


Nice and creamy (use good milk with some actual fat in it) with a slight tea taste, but mostly just almondy. It definitely tasted like amaretto. I felt like I was having a creamy cocktail and it was just breakfast time.

This made a very happy Cheri.

I offered a taste to my husband, but he declined. It was too many big words and it was green. He doesn't do green in the morning. (He did later agree that he would try it a different time, just not for breakfast.)

I should have taken pictures of this whole process, but I didn't think about it until it was just an empty glass. I'll try to do a better job next time.