The Great Un-Steepstering of 2020 Review #11 (08/25/20)

Rather than adding a bunch more individual entries to the (already giant and slow) database when these dry herbs essentially taste like what you would expect when you steep them in water (What, you mean lavender tastes of lavender and ginger tastes of ginger?! Stop the presses!), I’m going to collect these all here since I’ve been using my loose plain herbal infusions stash in a few different ways I want to document.

Culinary Lavender by Silver Fox Lavender Farm

As a bonified lavender fan, this is the one I’ve gotten the most creative with so far. I bought quite a bit from a stall at a Farmer’s Market in Boise (yay supporting local farmers!) so thankfully I still have quite a bit of lavender buds still in-house.

My first endeavor was making lavender-infused hot cocoa by following the recipe here (https://www.teatulia.com/recipes/earl-grey-hot-chocolate-mix.htm), only the portions were so huge (I ended up giving bags to both Todd and my sister!) that now I have copied down versions of it not only halved, but halved several more times from that, down to getting nearly a “sampler size” portion. It’s basically a way of crushing the buds in a spice grinder and mixing them with sugar and cocoa powder for hot chocolate, and the stuff is delicious!

In the winter months, hot lavender lattes are a favorite. I’ve found my favorite way to do them thus far is a half gram of buds per 1 metric cup (a little seems to go a long way!) steeped in 3 parts hot water for 3-5 minutes, then I heat/foam 1 part coconut milk, and mix together with a small dollap of Farmer’s Market honey. I really like the flavor combo of the lavender with the coconut milk! During the summer, I like to cold steep plentiful teabags of it in lemonade, as the lemon/lavender flavor combo is another favorite!

I’ve also been using it to make my own deodorizer spray for the house. I steep a strong infusion (usually a heaping teaspoon of buds in half a cup boiling water), then let the brew cool some, and put it in a small spray bottle with a teaspoon of lemon juice and top it off with water. Makes a nice air spritz and I keep a bottle near every litter box; completely natural and doesn’t bother the kitty!

Ginger by Starwest Botanicals

I’ve been using this almost exclusively to make flavored white rice! While the water for the Minute Rice was boiling, I’d put several teaspoons of the loose ginger in teabags and let them steep in the boiling water, remove the teabags, then add the rice and let it “soak up” the ginger tea to make a lightly ginger-flavored rice. I found the ginger-flavored rice extremely easy on my GI system on days when I was having issues with it due to migraine. As such, I used up my bag I brought home from a co-op on a vacation in San Franciscio quickly. I need to restock!

I also liked mixing this with the hibiscus flowers 50/50 to make a throat balm when I was starting to get a sore throat/cold… the hibiscus was full of that strong Vitamin C hit that I wanted in the early stages of a cold, while the ginger provided the throat balm, and I liked the taste of the two steeped warm together.

Hibiscus Flowers by Starwest Botanicals

I imagine I’m the only person on Steepster who willingly owns (or rather owned… I’ve now used them all up!) plain ol’ hibiscus flowers. My main use was a generous heaping teaspoon per cup cold steeped overnight in lemonade, which gave the lemonade a noticable sort of “raspberry lemonade” sort of flavor that I really liked! I also used them for the 50/50 hibiscus/ginger throat tea for colds, mentioned above.

I guess I had used up way more of my stash than I had thought, because I wanted to experiment with these in Sprite after reading about VariaTea doing so, and I had bought two different bottles of Sprite (traditional and a ginger one… I didn’t even know they made that!) but I had hardly any leaf left! I put a teabag into a tall glass of Sprite, and my findings were that other than turning the Sprite red, it really didn’t change the taste at all. At about halfway through the glass, the Sprite finally started to have a slightly “red berry/punchy” taste to it, but it was still pretty subtle against the flavor of the Sprite itself. By that point there was a) a lot less Sprite in the glass and b) the hibi teabag had been steeping for quite some time, so I guess to get any effect against the sugars/flavors of the Sprite I would’ve needed to use a lot more raw hibi leaf, and also probably done an overnight coldbrew of it. If I restock my leaf (this was another I picked up at the San Francisco co-op, and I can’t easily restock it locally without ordering online), I will have to try that out.

Peppermint by Frontier Co-Op

I had a lot of plans for this… I wanted to infuse cocoa with it, like with the lavender, to make mint cocoa as gifts at the holidays, which never happened, since I ended up using it up just making plain ol’ mint iced tea to soothe my tummy during bad GI attacks for my chronic migraine condition. The last of this from the San Francisco co-op ended up in a big pitcher and is currently in the fridge, and has been going into smoothies, mixing with the smoothie ingredients to leave a lovely fresh, minty taste! This would be nice to restock since I would still like to try out the cocoa idea, but since cheap, bagged mint tea alternatives are easily available here to make iced mint tea for the tum-tum, it isn’t as high of a priority…

Red Rose Buds and Petals by Starwest Botanicals

I still have quite a bit of this left from the San Francisco co-op haul. I have made one batch of rose-infused cocoa, which was just as lovely as the lavender, and have also used it to cold steep in lemonade, which I also really enjoy! I think I may try making another batch of rose lemonade and adding that to fruit smoothies in the future, or if I use up one of the spray bottles of lavender deodorizer and want to switch it up, I may fill one with a rose deodorizer next time.

White Antlers

I find hibiscus by itself, made into cold drink and lightly sweetened with just a tiny touch of simple syrup, is a wonderfully refreshing summer cooler. It’s served in some Mexican restaurants as ‘jamaica.’ Sometimes ginger is added. It doesn’t have a lot of medicinal benefits-mainly it can be used for hypertension. When purchasing hibiscus, the more of the flower and petals you can see, the better the tea will be. If you cold brew, it takes about 12-24 hours to extract the most flavor and color from the flowers. I’m sure you knew all of this Mastress Alita. I’m just admitting that I do own, use and enjoy hibiscus-but only by itself, not blended into anything else.

If you like the tartness of hibicus and haven’t yet experimented with dried rose hips for your Vitamin C ‘hit,’ they might be something to add to your dried herb apothecary.

Mastress Alita

Cold brewed hibiscus is lovely! I do enjoy it in dried fruit herbals, though, and tend to have plenty of those around, so I rarely cold steep it plain. I thought about getting rosehips (I like them, and I also like them mixed with hibi) but for whatever reason didn’t pick them up from that co-op when I was on that (so long ago now!) trip to the Bay Area… when I come across a chance to restock some of my dried herbs, I think I will!

White Antlers

I don’t know if you’ve used them before, but Mountain Rose Herbs (no affiliation) is a good source for the kinds of culinary/medicinal herbs you’re working with. If you have been happy with Starwest’s products, they’re good as well.

Do you make Fire Cider? I don’t use it because it’s contraindicated for my dosha type (Pitta-Hot), but if you don’t or have not, I highly recommend Rosemary Gladstar’s recipe from ‘Herbal healing for Women.’ It has to steep for about 4-6 weeks and this is the time of year I start some going for friends and clients.

Even though I live in a very big city with easy access to co-ops, farmers markets and herbal apothecaries, I still get most of my herbs and essential oils online. Something about looking forward to packages…

Mastress Alita

I know of them, and even visited their booth at the Portland Tea Fest one year. My main issue with them is the smallest size available (if I remember right) was 4 oz. and I rarely need so much of a single tea/herbal infusion in a single person household and tend to avoid any tea shops where that’s the smallest quantity I can get (I usually look for 2 oz. and smaller). That co-op in San Francisco was nice cause I could get any size I wanted and it was weighed. So I’m still hunting around for a place I can get raw herbs in quantities that better fit the storage needs of my small space/single person usage habits.

White Antlers

Ah! That makes sense. Herbs don’t keep forever. I purchase mainly for professional use so botanicals get used up quickly. For cooking, though, I always try to get the smallest quantity if it’s something I don’t use regularly because like you, my household is also single person.

ashmanra

I don’t care for hibiscus in blends that claim to be something else, like strawberry or apple but then all I taste is Hibi. I do, however, like jamaica and was wondering what the best source for loose flowers would be. All I have had is Tazo Passion, which is probably not nearly as good. It may not even be pure hibi.

White Antlers

ashmanra Tazo Passion is a fruit flavored tea (and it’s ‘tropical flavoring’, not even dried fruit pieces) primarlily hibiscus, some spices and rose hips but it’s a lower grade hibiscus; more broken up bits and pieces than whole petals. Kind of like green or black tea fannings (or ‘floor sweepings’ as I call it). To me, hibiscus tea bags are a waste of space and will tend to be low quality. A website called The Tea Spot sells good grade, organic, loose hibiscus petals and you can get a sample which is 5 servings for something like $4.00. That’s a good way to see if you like it, then you can order the next size which is 4 oz. Of course, if you have access to an herbal shop that sells in bulk, that is the ideal way to go.

derk

Lot’s of good ideas and info, Mastress Alita. Thank you for sharing! I will have to try that lavender earl grey hot chocolate when the weather cools.

White Antlers: Herbal Healing for Women is, funnily, arriving at my doorstep today. I’m also into the first chapter of House as a Mirror of Self. Explored Jung many moons ago, so it’s nice to be brought back into that fold, and with the author’s ties to the Bay Area, makes me even more interested in her text.

ashmanra

derk and White Antlers: My copy of House As A Mirror of Self is on the way! Looking forward to reading it!

I know Tazo is not high quality so I really look forward to finding some really good hibiscus flowers. My eldest daughter, Superanna on here, loves jamaica and I would love to make some for her. Just learned to make horchata because the kiddos like it!

White Antlers

derk: Hmmm. The Universe works in mysterious ways. I love both of those books. Mine are dear companions, limp and ragged from so many re-reads. So glad they will be with you. Each book has so much to give.

ashmanra: Delighted you ordered ‘House!’ Tazo has some merit and it’s a gateway tea for many folks. Try The Tea Spot’s hibiscus. My bag is down to the dregs else I’d gift you with some. Isn’t horchata a treat? Those lucky kiddos…

gmathis

I’m with derk—I am ready to try that lavender hot cocoa in a month or so!

ashmanra

White Antlers – just ordered some for me and some for my daughter!

Martin Bednář

Thank you Mastress Alita for lots of nice suggestions.

I don’t mind hibiscus nor rosehips in blends. But sometimes, usually in cheap stuff, there is too much of them making it only tart and nothing else. That makes me unhappy. But sometimes, it is just right and without it it would be, maybe just not that great?

derk

Another aside, to White Antlers: I read in Herbal Healing for Women that the namesake and original proprietor of my local apothecary in Sebastopol, Rosemary’s Garden, is in fact Rosemary Gladstar.

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White Antlers

I find hibiscus by itself, made into cold drink and lightly sweetened with just a tiny touch of simple syrup, is a wonderfully refreshing summer cooler. It’s served in some Mexican restaurants as ‘jamaica.’ Sometimes ginger is added. It doesn’t have a lot of medicinal benefits-mainly it can be used for hypertension. When purchasing hibiscus, the more of the flower and petals you can see, the better the tea will be. If you cold brew, it takes about 12-24 hours to extract the most flavor and color from the flowers. I’m sure you knew all of this Mastress Alita. I’m just admitting that I do own, use and enjoy hibiscus-but only by itself, not blended into anything else.

If you like the tartness of hibicus and haven’t yet experimented with dried rose hips for your Vitamin C ‘hit,’ they might be something to add to your dried herb apothecary.

Mastress Alita

Cold brewed hibiscus is lovely! I do enjoy it in dried fruit herbals, though, and tend to have plenty of those around, so I rarely cold steep it plain. I thought about getting rosehips (I like them, and I also like them mixed with hibi) but for whatever reason didn’t pick them up from that co-op when I was on that (so long ago now!) trip to the Bay Area… when I come across a chance to restock some of my dried herbs, I think I will!

White Antlers

I don’t know if you’ve used them before, but Mountain Rose Herbs (no affiliation) is a good source for the kinds of culinary/medicinal herbs you’re working with. If you have been happy with Starwest’s products, they’re good as well.

Do you make Fire Cider? I don’t use it because it’s contraindicated for my dosha type (Pitta-Hot), but if you don’t or have not, I highly recommend Rosemary Gladstar’s recipe from ‘Herbal healing for Women.’ It has to steep for about 4-6 weeks and this is the time of year I start some going for friends and clients.

Even though I live in a very big city with easy access to co-ops, farmers markets and herbal apothecaries, I still get most of my herbs and essential oils online. Something about looking forward to packages…

Mastress Alita

I know of them, and even visited their booth at the Portland Tea Fest one year. My main issue with them is the smallest size available (if I remember right) was 4 oz. and I rarely need so much of a single tea/herbal infusion in a single person household and tend to avoid any tea shops where that’s the smallest quantity I can get (I usually look for 2 oz. and smaller). That co-op in San Francisco was nice cause I could get any size I wanted and it was weighed. So I’m still hunting around for a place I can get raw herbs in quantities that better fit the storage needs of my small space/single person usage habits.

White Antlers

Ah! That makes sense. Herbs don’t keep forever. I purchase mainly for professional use so botanicals get used up quickly. For cooking, though, I always try to get the smallest quantity if it’s something I don’t use regularly because like you, my household is also single person.

ashmanra

I don’t care for hibiscus in blends that claim to be something else, like strawberry or apple but then all I taste is Hibi. I do, however, like jamaica and was wondering what the best source for loose flowers would be. All I have had is Tazo Passion, which is probably not nearly as good. It may not even be pure hibi.

White Antlers

ashmanra Tazo Passion is a fruit flavored tea (and it’s ‘tropical flavoring’, not even dried fruit pieces) primarlily hibiscus, some spices and rose hips but it’s a lower grade hibiscus; more broken up bits and pieces than whole petals. Kind of like green or black tea fannings (or ‘floor sweepings’ as I call it). To me, hibiscus tea bags are a waste of space and will tend to be low quality. A website called The Tea Spot sells good grade, organic, loose hibiscus petals and you can get a sample which is 5 servings for something like $4.00. That’s a good way to see if you like it, then you can order the next size which is 4 oz. Of course, if you have access to an herbal shop that sells in bulk, that is the ideal way to go.

derk

Lot’s of good ideas and info, Mastress Alita. Thank you for sharing! I will have to try that lavender earl grey hot chocolate when the weather cools.

White Antlers: Herbal Healing for Women is, funnily, arriving at my doorstep today. I’m also into the first chapter of House as a Mirror of Self. Explored Jung many moons ago, so it’s nice to be brought back into that fold, and with the author’s ties to the Bay Area, makes me even more interested in her text.

ashmanra

derk and White Antlers: My copy of House As A Mirror of Self is on the way! Looking forward to reading it!

I know Tazo is not high quality so I really look forward to finding some really good hibiscus flowers. My eldest daughter, Superanna on here, loves jamaica and I would love to make some for her. Just learned to make horchata because the kiddos like it!

White Antlers

derk: Hmmm. The Universe works in mysterious ways. I love both of those books. Mine are dear companions, limp and ragged from so many re-reads. So glad they will be with you. Each book has so much to give.

ashmanra: Delighted you ordered ‘House!’ Tazo has some merit and it’s a gateway tea for many folks. Try The Tea Spot’s hibiscus. My bag is down to the dregs else I’d gift you with some. Isn’t horchata a treat? Those lucky kiddos…

gmathis

I’m with derk—I am ready to try that lavender hot cocoa in a month or so!

ashmanra

White Antlers – just ordered some for me and some for my daughter!

Martin Bednář

Thank you Mastress Alita for lots of nice suggestions.

I don’t mind hibiscus nor rosehips in blends. But sometimes, usually in cheap stuff, there is too much of them making it only tart and nothing else. That makes me unhappy. But sometimes, it is just right and without it it would be, maybe just not that great?

derk

Another aside, to White Antlers: I read in Herbal Healing for Women that the namesake and original proprietor of my local apothecary in Sebastopol, Rosemary’s Garden, is in fact Rosemary Gladstar.

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Bio

Hi! I’m Sara, a middle-aged librarian living in southern Idaho, USA. I’m a big ol’ sci-fi/fantasy/anime geek that loves fandom conventions, coloring books, simulation computer games, Japanese culture, and cats. Proud asexual and supporter of the LGBTQ+ community. I’m also a chronic migraineur. As a surprise to no one, I’m a helpless tea addict with a tea collecting and hoarding problem! (It still baffles me how much tea I can cram into my little condo!) I enjoy trying all sorts of teas… for me tea is a neverending journey!

Favorite Flavors:

I love sampling a wide variety of teas! For me the variety is what makes the hobby of tea sampling so fun! While I enjoy trying all different types of teas (pure teas, blends, tisanes), these are some flavors/ingredients I enjoy:
-Dessert/chocolate/vanilla/caramel/cream/toffee/maple
-Sweet/licorice root/stevia
-Vegetal/grassy
-Floral/lavender/rose
-Spices/chais
-Fruity
-Tropical/pineapple/coconut
-Bergamot (in moderation)
-Roasted/nutty
-Tart/tangy/hibiscus/rosehip

Disliked Flavors:

There are not many flavors or ingredients that I don’t like. These include:
-Bananas/banana flavoring
-Smoke-scented teas/heavy smoke flavors (migraine trigger)
-Perfumey teas/extremely heavy floral aromas (migraine trigger)
-Gingko biloba (migraine trigger)
-Chamomile (used in blends as a background note/paired with stronger flavors is okay)
-Extremely spicy/heated teas
-Medicinal flavors/Ginseng
-Metallic flavors
-Overly strong artificial flavorings

With the exception of bananas and migraine triggers, I’ll pretty much try any tea at least once!

Steeping Parameters:

I drink tea in a variety of ways! For hot brews, I mostly drink my teas brewed in the western style without additions, and for iced tea, I drink teas mostly brewed in the cold brew style without additions. Occassionally I’ll change that up. I use the https://octea.ndim.space/#/ app for water-to-tea ratios and use steep times to my preferences.

Currently Sipping Down: Dazzle Deer teas, What-cha teas

My Rating Scale:

90-100 – Top tier tea! These teas are among my personal favorites, and typically I like to keep them stocked in my cupboards at all times, if possible!

70-89 – These are teas that I personally found very enjoyable, but I may or may not feel inclined to keep them in stock.

50-69 – Teas that fall in this range I enjoyed, but found either average, lacking in some way, or I’ve had a similar tea that “did it better.”

21-49 – Teas in this range I didn’t enjoy, for one reason or another. I may or may not finish them off, depending on their ranking, and feel no inclination to restock them.

20-1 – Blech! My Tea Hall of Shame. These are the teas that most likely saw the bottom of my garbage can, because I’d feel guilty to pass them onto someone else.

Note that I only journal a tea once, not every time I drink a cup of it. If my opinion of a tea drastically changes since my original review, I will journal the tea again with an updated opinion and change my rating. Occassionally I revisit a tea I’ve reviewed before after a year or more has passed.

New Teas Tried for 2020: 79
Sipdown Count for 2020: 100

Inventory:

My Cupboard on Steepster reflects teas that I have sampled and logged for review, and is not used as an inventory for teas I currently own at the present moment. An accurate and up-to-date listing of my current tea inventory can be viewed here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1AvGT1XwgJUTErt3zhjpHbXf6HNS3k_Ym85zoHJPmhX4/edit?usp=sharing . A downloadable spreadsheet version with more detailed information can be acquired here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1D2J0sUMNItRsf0jBRBR6XDFUimm60f0o/view?usp=sharing . I am currently on a tea trading/ordering hiatus to get my collection under control! I cannot participate in any tea boxes, group orders, tea exchanges, or accept any tea gifts at this point in time. If there is something on my spreadsheet that I have in large quantity (50g or higher) that you would like to sample, feel free to contact me about it, as I am open to limited gifting (USA only!)

Contact Info:

The Steepster PM system has been broken for some time. If you need to get ahold of me, check the website URL section below; it goes to a contact form that will reach my personal e-mail.

Location

Idaho, United States

Website

https://teatimetuesdayreviews...

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