1817 Tasting Notes
This morning I experimented with making a homemade chai with just my favorite things in it. I am not a huge fan of turmeric in chai but my Indian acquaintances here put a lot of it, as well as black pepper. Now, it may be sacrilege that I didn’t put any pepper, and maybe I can’t legitimately call this chai, but it was really good.
I add 1/2 tsp. of whole cardamom, a few whole allspice, and a bit of Ceylon cinnamon to two teaspoons of Assam. I simmered this in two cups of water for almost twenty minutes. I strained it into a teapot and added sugar, gave it a good stir, and added some hot milk. It. Was. YUMMY.
For all you chai lovers who like the black pepper and turmeric, I apologize for offending your sensibilities. I will happily call this just “spiced tea” and keep on drinking it. My only regret was that I hadn’t made a larger portion!
Okay all, I am getting ready to preach!
Three years ago this week I went for a mammogram. I was about a year late because I was too busy to get one and since I was the poster child for low risk factor I really didn’t need to go, did I now? There was no lump, no changes. But it came back abnormal.
A second one was ordered, then a biopsy, and finally on December 21st I received the official diagnosis. I had cancer. The cancer it was impossible for me to have because I had four kids, I breastfed them, and there was no family history of it.
How does this apply to tea?
This is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and Panera Bread sells a special bagel in the shape of a ribbon. It is cherry vanilla flavored and I miss it when they quit making them.
Today I ground some wheat and made my usual buttermilk bread loaf, but this time I added some vanilla, Craisins, and chopped walnuts to try to recreate the taste of the bagel I love but can only buy one month out of the year. This loaf of bread is already history. Writer’s Group finished all that was left after tea time today! I also made a homemade version of Panera’s Cheesecake Spread, which is just cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, and a hint of cinnamon. (I left out the crushed graham crackers.)
What would be more perfect to pair with it than Mike Harney’s masterful Boston Blend? Everyone went so nuts over this tea that I made three large pots just for group, and one at tea time earlier. One group member who is crazy about green teas and jasmine teas said it was her most favorite tea of all the ones she has ever had at my house…and she isn’t even a huge black tea fan!
This is an intimate, cozy up tea. A quiet steady friend tea. A comfort tea.
Now, if you are female, make sure you have had your mammogram. If you are male, pester the women in your life to get one. My husband prodded me to go, “just to be sure.” I am thankful.
After drinking lots of puerh, my friend wanted to try a green tea. She said she had never had a good one so I took her to my tea wall and we sniffed some different ones. She loved the smell of this one, but she said, “I want it to be something easily accessible to me!” I told her they were sachets and were available at Barnes and Noble and she was ready to try a cup.
We made a pot, and again she did not reach for the sugar. She took a sip and said rather shocked, “So the only reason I have been adding sugar to tea was to cover up how nasty it was? This is fantastic by itself!”
I have a new tea padawan! :D
This is my favorite puerh without a doubt. If I have a new guest coming to tea and they say they already like and drink tea, I often serve Harney’s Paris or some other flavored black that I feel is a sure thing. If they say they drink coffee and don’t really drink tea or know anything about it, they get this!
A few days ago, a lady I haven’t seen in five years posted that she needed feed bags for a project. I offered her mine and told her to stop by when I have time for tea. She said she didn’t really drink it and to surprise her with something unusual and adventurous. I made this!
When she arrived she told me that she normally took her coffee with milk and sugar, and that was how she had tried her grocery store greens that she dumped out. But she tried this puerh with nothing added and nearly swooned. She loved the cedar-y flavor, the smoothness, and the creamy mouthfeel. We had about eight steeps and honestly, I think the last was my favorite. We swished it around and such a sweetness and bright yet mellow flavor was there. It was pure delight.
This is one of the teas that must ALWAYS be on hand.
I forgot that I had already tried this tea and bought two sachets at Barnes and Noble to make at home.
My opinion remains the same. It is one of the more palatable rooibos blends (I am not a fan of rooibos but was tasting it to see if my pumpkin obsessed daughter would like it) and reminds me of mulled cider more than pumpkin pie.
I noticed they also have it at Target, and a young man told me yesterday that a friend loves it and had recommended it to him. If you like rooibos and mulling spices, try it! It is certainly a very fall, cozy, holiday sort of tisane.
One of the first fine teas I ever bought was Harney and Sons Royal English Breakfast in the Historic Royal Palaces tin at Barnes and Noble. My youngest daughter really loved it and I bought it several times, but we really got away from making anything but loose leaf tea and she started drinking Vanilla Black or Lapsang teas.
A couple of months ago I asked her to finish up the tin as I was doing a tea clean out. Those last two cups recaptured her heart and she wanted more. What to do? I didn’t want more big sachet tins, and I wanted loose leaf. As I looked at their website I discovered that Big Red Sun and Royal English Breakfast seem to be exactly the same tea!
Harney and Sons even repackaged it for me into the black and gold tin so it would match the others on my tea wall!
I had it with my bagel yesterday and I am convinced this is exactly the same as REB. It was so robust that with my meal it actually tasted fruity. It has that really distinctive flavor that shouts TEA!! early in the morning. Slightly astringent, bold, full of body, yet I was able to enjoy it plain and didn’t have to tame it with milk and sugar. This is a keeper, and I am planning to share this with my new doctor who is from Eritria and loves Kenyan tea. I think he will love it even more blended with this smooth and malty Ceylon.
I am so excited. LOL! I wanted this last year but didn’t get it, and then I gave one as a gift to a friend but I had it shipped straight to her so I never saw it in person.
When I placed my most recent Harney order, I decided to get one for myself and I justified it by saying it as a good way to have a varied assortment for guests. LOL!
Well, it is here, it is adorable, it is handsome, and I would gladly give this as a gift to anyone, even to people who are not as ga-ga over tea as I am.
It comes in a snug cardboard box to protect it. This would also make it super easy to wrap if you were giving it away.
The wooden box is very attractive, super well made, and I couldn’t believe how many little tea bags they managed to fit in it. They are foil wrapped and no aroma is escaping from any, even though I know that a few of these are very aromatic. So that means there will be no contamination of flavors.
I love it, love it, LOVE it! (I already have their large tea chest, and love it, too.)
I bought this to tide me over until my Harney order arrives. It is more astringent than Harney’s but for the price it isn’t bad at all, and went well with my bagel. It smells absolutely awesome when I open my tin. With food, the astringency is subdued and not at all unpleasant, but I do prefer the Harney and Nina’s versions to this one. It is a great value, though.
It’s baaaaaaaack! After two years of not being able to buy this one, they have it on shelf at A Southern Season again. The bad news is, it has gone up to $14.95 an ounce. O.O But hey, I can buy one ounce, resteep like mad, and hoard it until I can afford more.
When I first tried this one I was rather new to oolongs. This tea fascinated me, and it still does. It doesn’t seem quite as alien to me now, though. For a long time I was convinced that something had been added, like perhaps licorice root. (The staff vows that nothing at all has been added.) But now that I have had some really fine TGY teas, mostly thanks to Teavivre, I recognize that this is somewhat similar to those. It is much stronger though, and has a cooling flowery presence that swells each time you inhale, and it doesn’t stop after your finish your tea. I can continue for quite a long time.
This is one I will only drink when I have time alone with my kettle and cup.