June 15, 2012

Tea Review: Iced Teas by Salada

It's time to chill out with some refreshing iced tea, an innovation that goes back to 1904, when a tea vendor decided to help people cool off at the St Louis Worlds Fair.  This truly American invention is now one of the most popular ways to drink tea, thanks to the RTD bottled industry.  And every June is National Iced Tea Month.

There are numerous way to make iced tea.  Either you can use cold water and steep your tea for an extended period of time or you can brew hot tea and then ice it down.  There are a bevy of iced tea makers - machines dedicated to the sole practice of making tea, often with convenient pitchers, which in its self can be a handy item to own.

So when I was asked to try Salada Tea's Iced Tea Line, what with it being the National month-long celebration of icy camellia sinensis, I was more than happy to oblige.

Now there's nothing that differentiates their tea from any other tea that you could use to create iced tea, if you were using tea bags, although their iced tea bags are indeed bigger. I tried to show the difference in this photo. And while the instructions say to use 2 of these "Family Sized" bags, I found that using 3-4 tea bags was better because the taste of the green tea is fairly washed out.

This fairly washed out taste is common with "naturally decaffeinated" teas because to decaffeinate them they must be soaked (twice) in the processing - leaving you with a less robust taste.  This process also diminishes the antioxidants that people prize green tea for having, which means any supportive health claims having to do with "decaffeinated green tea" are grossly over-exaggerated.

I tried all 3 of the iced teas (Raspberry, Tropical and Peach Nectarine), only to find them to be rather similar.  A weak iced tea accented by a touch of fruit flavoring.

I wish I had something more to say besides "hey, I like the super-sized tea bags" but I am now the owner of 3 big boxes of 18 mega-tea bags.....and as they say, "That's Salada Tea".

May 28, 2012

Tea Review: Coconut Creme Tea

Coconut Creme Tea from Persimmon Tree
I have a passion for anything tropical, from palm trees to ukulele music.  It's a well-known fact that Madam Potts lives on a tropical island in her own mind.  So when I was asked to review this tea, I queued up the Arthur Lyman CDs.

Tea Company: Persimmon Tree Tea

In Review:  Coconut Creme Tea

Dry Review:  White Peony leaves, accented Blue Cornflowers, Red Safflower and white bits of shaved coconut

Steeped Review:
HOT:  This subtle white tea is infused with a coconut essence, that makes for a simple pleasurable delight.  The enjoyment is in its simplicity.

ICED:  I think I like this even better when iced.  The natural sweetness of the coconut makes for a refreshingly cooling drink!

Personal Thoughts:  It's overly simple - the blank canvas of a light white tea whereupon a splash of coconut has been added.  The main thing I question is the use of flavorings which are not accounted on the website as being either natural or artificial.  In every "herbal" infusion of theirs, they allude to a flavoring, which for me means that something is added and/or covering up in the name of low-quality and instant flavor association. I realize that this is a popular practice these days - but not one I personally enjoy.

NOTE: There are people with allergies to "artificial" and  even to "natural" flavorings, so this is something to be upfront about.

January 19, 2012

That's Some Bloody Good Tea!

As many of my readers know, I love blending tea for musicians and bands because the added inspiration that comes along with the music adds a level to the blending process.  I also love that when the final product has been created that you can Hear AND Taste the music.

Upon opening the form that The Bloody Jug Band emailed me, the first thing I noticed was that all of their answers were in a Red Font and naturally wanted a red-hued tea.  These guys were serious about their branding.  And they were seriously into creating something you've never had before. Other stand-out answers included that they wanted a "Florida Swamp Noir" feel to their blend...and the pleasant request that their tea be "bad ass".

They sent me a CD, which helped me understand what they meant by "bad ass" and "swamp noir". Who would have thought that songs about robbing graves, the walking dead, death and disease could be so catchy?  I get a thrill out of cruising around town listening to their EP "First Drops".

(EDITOR's NOTE: this EP is the most outrageously fun $5 you're going to spend all month)

We ended up making not one tea....not two teas....but three Bloody Jug Band "Jambor-Teas" - because you simply can't cram all this bad ass inspiration and enthusiasm into one blend. It goes to show, the more personality you let shine through on your form, the more inspired your tea becomes.

The 3 Jambor-Teas are:
The Bloody JamborTea - this spicy herbal blend brews up bloody red. Designed to get you going, wake you up, get the blood flowing with the use of spices.  Caffeine-free.  This tea is Hot Blooded!!!

BBQ JamborTea -  It's a BBQ you can drink. With 13 ingredients in this hickory smoked concoction, this tea is good enough to eat!  (it also doubles as a spice rub, so technically I guess you can)

Swamp JamborTea - yes, I said swamp. And sure enough this green tea, roots & valerian mix is every bit as earthy in taste and smell like a Florida Swamp at Midnight.  If you like earthy teas, then you'll be curious to try this one.

What more can I say?...

It's been a hell of a lot of fun for me as a blender to create a color, a food experience and a topographical location.  You never know what sources of inspiration will come your way.

Because these 3 Teas, dare I call them "bad ass blends", are ONLY available on the Bloody Jug Band website, you'll have to order them there.  And while you're at it, pick up a copy of their first EP and give yourself a true multifaceted experience.

Taste & Hear the music.

Music needs a Party...Why not make it a Tea Party?

January 15, 2012

Haiku Tea Ware: Best Gift Ever

Over 3 years ago I stumbled across a unique tea ware idea in the form of Haiku Tea Cups.  I immediately blogged about it because I wanted one so bad (and I’m still hoping she will expand to tea pots!) Each cup comes with a haiku which you can write yourself or have her write for you.  In the spirit of haiku, which prides itself on simplicity, Teaspoons & Petals’ creations are not over done – white cups, black lettering – artistically hand-painted.   It’s not every day you find something that is both functional and poetic. 

What I love about a finely written haiku is how much can be said with so few words. 

Words often fail us. Sometimes, words feel too small to convey the love and respect that you may have for another person or situation.  Right when you want to say everything, you find yourself speechless. 

So when it came time to honor a friend of mine, who had accomplished so much, and who has meant the world to me, the haiku helped me form the sentiments I wanted to convey and Teaspoons’ Haiku Tea Ware helped me deliver that message. 

Friendship, like tea, is enjoyed in many sips.

My cup runneth over.

December 04, 2011

Where's the Party at?

After what has seemed like an eternity, it is time to pick up the proverbial pen and begin writing once again.

The year prior (affectionately known as 2010) brought with it a marathon of articles and blog posts like never before.  I was fortunate enough to be writing for The English Tea Store and for Examiner.com, in addition to this blog, and getting paid to do so.  By the end of 2010, however, the "mad tea party" became a "virtual" tea party, attended only by me and my computer.  The only tea time I was having, was the time I took to write about tea online.  All too often, I was only "enjoying" the cup or product that I was writing about, as I wrote about it. "Sharing" online is not the same as actually sharing in person.

I began to fall out of love.  I was no longer mad about tea, but I had become frantic about creating tea-based content. So much writing to keep up with, so little time. I was losing the purity of this simple pleasure. So to salvage my relationship with my love of tea, I had to let the writing go...

For me, tea is something to be shared with others.  I can think of no better custom that that of an afternoon tea party - stopping your day to enjoy tea and food and conversation,  I mean, what could be better???  Let there be Friendship and Laughter and Cake!

So while I haven't written about it, 2011 has become the Year of the Mad Tea Party.  At least once a week, a small party of friends and acquaintances shows up to my house to drink tea. Sometimes that includes lunch, sometimes we assemble tea projects and orders, sometimes there's baked goods and there's always music.  It's amazing what can happen with the littlest invitation - like asking others to drink some tea with you.

So to those of you who have come over to my house, have brought over friends, and have raised a mug of tea with me -- thank you.  Thank you for being part of the madness and for bringing back the Love.