You know, there just aren’t enough places in the world you can go to have a good healthy primal scream. A moderate barbaric yawp, even. Work—-well, that’s out; that’s causing it. Home, nope. Somebody’s always taking a nap and would bite your head off. Back yard or on the evening constitutional around the neighborhood—wouldn’t advise it; might attract the attention of neighbors and local constabulary. (This burg is teeny. Doesn’t take much to make a stir.)
So there was nothing else to do for one set of jangled, teeth-gritten-down-to-the-nubs nerves except make a cup of tension-taming tulsi. And, needing gratuitious sugar, I got experimental and tossed in a bag of Celestial Seasonings Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride. (Well, the two smelled nice together when I held the CS bag up to the tulsi jar.)
Steeped, not sensational, but the cup didn’t go down the drain, either. As always, the tulsi took a little of the battery acid out of the back of my neck.
I could still use a good safe shriek. (Maybe we should think about building an outdoor tornado shelter after all…)
Good Young Tea Co./Traditions Strawberry Black Tea + home grown spearmint = ahhhhhh!
Anybody besides me missing hot tea, and the weather-related need for it? I’m not counting my solitary morning cuppa, which during this hot spell, is just a scrap of something I don’t mind going cold after the first half cup.
However, like many of you, this weather is providing opportunities to discover umpty-six different fridge-brewed combos that are balm to my chicken-fried soul.
This is one of them. A good friend set me up with a Disney Cars zip-lock bag of crumbled spearmint from her backyard. Did an experimental pint jar with a teaspoon of mint to a single bag of my current favorite Asian-grocery brand strawberry tea. Never had a mint julep, but that’s what comes to mind as I imbibe. The pint may turn into a gallon jug this afternoon :)
H & S Vanilla Comoro (decaf) + dried banana chips = Banilla? Bananilla? Why didn’t I try this before??
I am one of those slightly skewed (almost typed skewered) people who has a weird thing with food texture—thus I can’t bring myself to eat a raw banana. (Neither can I force down mashed potatoes.) But I’m OK with banana flavors. This fixes the problem and makes a sweet, smooth tropical add-in that I am going to have to play with some more, both warm and chilled. Next try—I’ve got some chocolate/vanilla rooibos that might work well.
My apologies for forgetting which of you recently mentioned trying tulsi with banana, but my greatest appreciation for the inspiration. I’ve got a whole quart jar of chips…this ought to be fun!
Let’s call this one “Beat the Blues-berry.”
The struggle to slog through the day continues. Non-specific, frigid-weather, car-behaving-eccentrically, nothing-to-look-forward-to, just-can’t-muster-up-the-joy, seasonal icks. Watching one friend lose her father to cancer last week; another visiting a surgeon today to scope out options for a breast lump. Housework. Taxes. Gotta smile at how Psalm 3 calls God “the lifter of my head…” Mine’s hanging down by my socks!
So…a cup of buck-up is in order, don’t you think? With little forethought, I tucked a bag of Celestial Seasonings True Blueberry in the cup, then dashed in my steeping basket with a heaping teaspoonful of tulsi, my trusty tension tamer.
Works! The clovey-lemon tulsi taste plays nicely with the gentle blueberry, and I hope to feel its un-kinking effects soon.
It’ll be OK. I know how it ends. Our troubles are light and momentary, Some moments are just kind of long, huh? Chins up, pinkies out, carry on!
Gobs of lavender + generous chamomile + slightly less tulsi
It was a ham hock and pirhana day yesterday; came dragging home metaphorically rubbing my hindquarters from all the bites taken out of it at work.
This desperation combination was really good; the more lavender, the less clove-y the tulsi. And the scent was wonderful. Everybody crashed early except me, so I had some silence to smell and sip and pray and unwind.
Forget valerian; tulsi has whatever my biochemistry needs to neutralize the jet-fuel adrenalin of a stressy day.
Tulsi + dried pineapple = Pulsi? Tulsi-apple?
Wonderful in theory; needs a little work on execution. Two large pieces of the pineapple I used in a tea-for-one pot weren’t quite strong enough to counteract the clovey taste of the tulsi. I could tell it was there, but just barely. (The pineapple wasn’t the typical corn-starch-coated variety that come in commercial trail mixes, which is probably healthier, but didn’t sweeten things up as expected.)
Side note—as a tension-reliever, tulsi is one of the few herbs that I can say actually have a noticeable effect on my perpetually clenched neck muscles.
I posted elsewhere that I remember why I am a weekend writer … If I don’t write, I have to spend Saturday cooking and cleaning!
So when I hit a wall full-on this afternoon, I took a little of this (Nature’s Tea Leaf Apple) and a little of that (Adagio Caramel) and tried to find a happy medium steep time … and it wasn’t bad. Leaned to the apple side since the caramel ideally takes a couple minutes more. But a good sippin’ steep while I caught my breath.
Pumpkin pie is pumping, gingerbread breaded, mushroom steak in crock pot, potatoes baking, laundry folded, house passably tidy (which is as good as it ever gets)…top that off with a run to Wally World because we ran out of bread, and there’s just not much left (pant, pant). Just another load for a typical domestic diva, but this is like climbing Everest for me ;)
Yesterday’s Paris Morning leaves freshened up with a spoonful of (rather aged) Adagio Caramel. Not exactly stellar, but a good way to stretch my supply of both. Reminds me of this litte tidbit from my Laura Ingalls Wilder reading days:
Use it up
Wear it out
Make it do
Or do without.
The Dutchess of Make It Do
Ku Cha Keemun Monkey + CS Sweet Harvest Pumpkin = Punky Monkey?
My little jar of this Keemun is getting a little old. Its personality has faded, but I think it will be just fine reincarnated into a blender-inner. In this case, I needed something to tone down the wicked sweet stevia in the CS Pumpkin. It did and it goes nicely with homemade gingerbread (yes, friends, I baked from SCRATCH, not a box) for breakfast.
Dawn (The Simple Leaf) + Belgian Chocolate rooibos (mystery vendor)
I have about 1/3 packet of Dawn left and I am rationing it very parsimoniously. But two lovely, cool mornings in a row (7:45 a.m. and it’s just now hit 60) occasioned a celebration. Since cocoa is the overwhelming profile in these big, luscious leaves, I reasoned that something chocolatey would be compatible and help me stretch last night’s brew basket a little further.
Angrboda recently made the wise observation that cocoa flavor is distinctly different from chocolate flavor. I should have listened. This chance combination doesn’t not work, but it’s like the days when you wear two shades of the same color that don’t quite go and then you worry all day that somebody else will notice.
OK, I have transgressed and slipped into a cup of cocoa tonight. But in my defense, it’s sloppy, soggy, freezing rain outside, snow to follow, with killer chill behind that. Sitting under a super-fluorescent light at my writing desk didn’t even dent the SAD. It’s chocolate weather.
However, the chance combination part of this little story is courtesy of my hubby. Disappointed by Starbucks’ discontinuation of his favorite Signature cocoa, he started twiddling with cocoa alchemy. Turns out that one packet Swiss Miss Dark Chocolate Sensation and one packet Cold Stone Marshmallow in the same cup approximates the sweet stuff he misses.
Hitting the spot.
H & S Tower of London + bulk cocoa nibs = ooh!
Our little indie import grocery had cocoa nibs available for bulk purchase—couldn’t resist; thought it might feed the winter-blahs chocolate monster without actually ingesting candy and tubs full of fudge frosting.
So, first thing out of the bag, I spooned in a very scant and experimental 1/4 teaspoonful with this morning’s Tower of London. Didn’t hurt, but didn’t have much effect, either.
Seond steep of the TOL, I popped in a full teaspoon of the nibs. Added some very pleasant, gently chocolatish (as opposed to sweetly chocolately) personality to the used leaves.
Good for a picker-upper after taking down the Christmas tree. I didn’t want to do it this year. When the tree goes, January comes :)
Always Save orange pekoe (about half a pint, made as sun tea) + leftover Yorkshire Gold (about 2/3 cup) + Pappy’s Sassafrass (a sploosh, and no, I don’t know how much that is) = cold and rooty and redneck and perfect for listening to John Hartford on Pandora. Come on over and have a swig.
1 part Chocolate Cream Truffle (Savoy Tea Co) + 2 parts chamomile = my own chamomile curiosity brew
…which confirmed my hypothesis that chamomile is stout enough to stand up to a stronger flavor. The two paired nicely and I think I could have backed off the chamomile a little to make it more even-steven. Wish I had a really good chocolate decaf to blend it with instead of a black tea, didn’t help the sleep routine a bit, but it was a fun and tasty experiment.
Tulsi + lavender + chamomile I spilled all over the stovetop = it’s been a stinky day. (Work insanity.)
No careful measuring, no rhyme nor reason, I just started pawing through my herbals for the most stress-relieving components I could find.
Celestial Seasonings Madagascar Vanilla Red (1 bag) + 1/2 t. tulsi = ROOT BEER?
Yeah, root beer. Go figure.
For a lark, threw some black peppercorns in with some aging Belgian Chocolate rooibos (Metropolitan, I think). Couldn’t taste the peppercorns separately, but I think they added a little depth of flavor and warmth, rather than heat, that brought this oldie but goodie back to life.
Decaf Korakundah is a variety I picked up at Savoy last spring, hoping for a decent plain black decaf. Not so much…it isn’t unpleasant; it just isn’t much of anything. Tastes watered down, even at full strength.
So to finish out the sample, I topped it off with half a teaspoon of Blueberry Black tea Nicole sent from, uh, I think, Tropical Tea Co. Now we’ve got a little something going. Kept steep time light, so I don’t think it’ll buzz me too much to sleep tonight.
Adagio Mambo (1 t) + plain cut mate leaf (1/2 t).
Dragging anchor after a drudgery and trudgery-filled workweek. Needed something that, like Powdermilk Biscuits, “gives you the energy to do what needs to be done.”
The plain mate takes the cocoa-y edge off the Mambo and adds just a bit of vegetation to the mix, but not unpleasantly so.
No good energy rush yet, but it’s still early…
Life has done a number on our family this week—sick mama, medical trauma, severe storm drama, (I’ll throw in commas and llamas and pajamas, too, just because they rhyme).
Thus and therefore, I am in dire need of a full night’s sleep to have the energy to face more of the same. Tulsi to relax + chickweed to replenish whatever nourishment I’ve neglected to intake this week. About 1/3 of the chickweed to 2/3 tulsi. The spiciness of the tulsi keeps the chickweed from tasting too weedy and barky.
2/3 Always Save grocery-shelf orange pekoe bagged tea + 1/3 Darvilles of Windsor English Breakfast = a touch of redneck class :)
Just needed something to wash away the after-effects of scrubbing my kitchen, so threw these three bags in a Mason jar in the fridge. The Darvilles is really dark and stout (PG Tips strength) and balances out the thinner, more citric taste of the cheap stuff. Good way to stretch my supply of the English Breakfast that’s a little hard to track down.
Here’s to cleanliness.
Upton Tea Turkish apple + (bulk) tulsi = apple tart
About 2/3 apple to 1/3 tulsi. A little frantic at work; needed a little tulsi to tackle the tension in neck muscles (it is, in my opinion, the only herbal calmer-downer that has a noticeable effect on me). The downside to its effectiveness is its clovey-ness. Not my flavor profile.
So…this worked. Upton’s prescribed steep time is 8 minutes; plenty of time to wring all the medicinals out of the tulsi. The apple doesn’t completely mask the tulsi flavor, but is strong enough to tone it down. Like a fresh apple salad or a dessert made with Granny Smith apples.
Leftover Tower of London (H&S) + leftover Warwick Assam + leftover Hampton Breakfast (both Ahmad) … and likely a dollop of something else = British Breakfast Suicide. Shaken, not stirred, in a mason jar, garnet dark, refrigerated and left a questionable number of days. My kind of iced tea on kind of a thick and sultry afternoon ;)
1 part Grace Rare Tea Assam (2nd steep) + 2 parts Thomas Sampson, last bit of the tin = a really nice slow-morning pot. They play together nicely, the Grace assam warms up plain ol’ Thomas quite nicely.
I’m thinking that, much like simplyjenW does a Franken-breakfast blend that’s heavy on the keemun, I may try dumping my all my Assam scraps together to see what happens. (Somebody’ll have to peel me off the ceiling?)
I have often said that tulsi is my friend; but I think I’m getting close to BFF’s FOREVER with little hearts drawn around it.
Fighting off a wickedly sore throat/swollen tonsil last night, made a strong cup of tulsi with lemongrass (which didn’t affect the flavor; tulsi is pretty strong) and within an hour, the excruciating swallowing pain subsided significantly. A little surfing confirmed that tulsi is purported to be effective for oral and throat care. (Taking into consideration the effusive miracle-drug language you see on some websites.)
Not proclaiming myself cured just yet, but chalk up another one for this lemony-clovey stuff!
Ever since I read the reviews of Verdant’s Chocolate Chamomile Curiosity Brew, I’ve been playing around with base ingredients to see if I can concoct something similar on my own.
Tonight, we did equal parts Belgian Chocolate Rooibos, cacao nibs, and chamomile. Wasn’t bad, made some sensory synapses fire (been brain-dead all week), but next time I think I’ll back off the chocolate a bit. (Back off chocolate? Am I nuts?)
Hedley’s Cherry Rooibos + Bigelow Cozy Chamomile
The cherry syrup vibe is so strong in the Hedley’s I rummaged around in my work stash to find something that might tame it a little. This worked decently. Now chamomile with a little cherry instead of CHERRY that makes your eyes cross :)
Upton Season’s Pick Vietnam BPS (+1 day) + Ahmad Warwick Assam = nice breakfast blend.
Used day-old leaves of the Vietnam BPS and sprinkled in a little of the Assam; these unflavored black leaves work together nicely. The Vietnam BPS softens the stiff kick of the Assam, but still plenty of caffeine to jump start me.
Traditions/Good Young Tea Co. Strawberry Black Tea + Citrus (In Pursuit of Tea) = a plausible summer chill-out.
The Citrus has followed me around for a very long time—part of the bin that survived our trauma. Largely, it’s been around for so long because it’s so tart and dry I can’t stand it on its own, but I can’t bear to throw out tea.
So I did a half-and-half with my new strawberry addiction, cold in the fridge, and while it didn’t improve the strawberry on its own, it gave it a lemonade-y kick that isn’t bad on a sweltering afternoon.
Not really a combination of anything, but it doesn’t fit a brand name, either. Enjoying peppermint tea from my very own Peppermint Patty Plant…all the more special because the plant start(s) are the only living things we were able to salvage from House that Was. Kept them in a pot, coddled them on the porch of Shabby House, dragged them in and out of frost, and babied them all winter in a makeshift greenhouse (clear plastic tub turned upside down).
I’m not horticulturally savvy enough to know how many, if there are multiple, varieties of peppermint there are. This isn’t as strong as the professionally dried leaves I can purchase, but still very pleasant and cooling to the palate. Of course, I’m sentimentally prejudiced.
Two parts Holy Basil (Tulsi) + 1 part lavender; saw this particular blend in the latest Stash catalog and realized I had the means to make it (for pennies, Cheapster Steepsters)using the bulk raw ingredients I get for less than $1.25 an ounce at my favorite health food hangout.
It smells luscious and very, very floral—-good enough to bathe in. And what a nice flavor pairing…the lavender sweetens up the spicy bite of the tulsi without tasting like you’re drinking a Mother’s Day bouquet.
As for the relaxation factor…my day included a marathon software training session that required full-on concentration and refereeing by phone a walker fight between two octogenarians. Don’t know which helped more, the anti-stress adaptogens in the tulsi, or stealing fifteen quiet minutes with no demands on my time. But I’m thinking I may have found a pretty effective evening medicinal.
Celestial Seasonings Sweet Apple Chamomile + a second steep of Shang Tea’s honeysuckle white = one fragrant, sweet cup of fruit-and-flower tastiness. Delicious. Even more so looking at a freshly mowed backyard with a scrappy, perky little cat lounging in the scraps of late afternoon sun.
Couldn’t you just use a month of moments like this?
Brought my newly stashed stash of Shang Chrysanthemum White home and tried another cup, this time topped off with a dollop of tulsi. Bingo! The lemony tulsi neutralizes the (mulchy? leafy?) dried flower taste and makes for a light, warm, springy tasting cup.
Besides, since these are both purported (and I can vouch for the tulsi) to be serious anxiety relievers, I ought to be in Happy Land in a very few minutes!
Ahmad Warwick Assam + jacquelinem’s “Berry Melange” = a cozy mystery tea with a sense of humor.
Last summer, when we were setting up temporary quarters at Shabby House, jaquelinem fixed me up with a tin of her shaken-together bits and bops of berry black tea. So, half-and-half with Ahmad’s good solid Assam, I have a mystery to solve every time I pick up a fruity hint. Am I tasting strawberry? Blueberry? Razzleberries? Crunchberries? Throopberries from the lesser-angulated throopberry tree on the western Isle of Picallilli?
At any rate, this is strong enough to noodge me awake and sweet enough to feel a little celebratory—after all, we did make it to Friday.
3 parts Good Young Tea Co./Traditions Strawberry Black Tea + 2 parts bulk coarsely shaved coconut = plausible berries & cream substitute.
I’m thinking I could’ve backed off the coconut a bit; it’s in the foreground and not the background, but this is still good and tasty chilled.
I’m beginning to think that there is very little that doesn’t mix well with this wonderfully obscure and cheap little berry tea. Banana chips? Dried pineapple?
Strawberry Black Tea + Pappy’s Sassafrass = sit back in your rocking chair, turn up the Southern Gospel to obnoxious levels, and grin at those 100-degree temps because you’ve got a whole quart of this stuff to hand.
(1 T concentrate to a tumbler of my new favorite Good Young/Traditions Strawberry Black. An ornery and mischievous combination, but a good ’un.)
Green and Lemon Tea (San Francisco Herb Co.) + juice from one can of sliced pineapples = nah.
In theory, it sounded great, especially since I love this particular green/lemon blend. Flavors just didn’t meld well. Eh. Live and learn.
Lipton chamomile/pineapple pyramid bags (snipped open) + bulk lemongrass = the potential of a really nice spring/summer cooling tea (even when it’s warm). The lemongrass is absolutely compatible, but I will need to up the proportions or increase steeping time to tip the balance in its favor.
One drinks red raspberry leaf infusion for the medicinal value, not for the flavor. It isn’t undrinkable on its own, but definitely has a tree-leafy taste to it.
So, since we’ll be imbibing it pretty heavily over the next week or so, a little experimentation seemed to be in order.
Put the raspberry leaf in a stuff-your-own paper filter (it clogs up brew baskets) and tossed in a bag of Celestial Seasonings True Blueberry. Voila. The blueberry neutralizes the leafy flavor of the raspberry leaf; the raspberry leaf neutralizes the hibiscus that runs a little strong in the True Blueberry. Win-win.
Win-win-win, if you add the fact that I’m sipping it in the patio glider on a sunny pre-vening (thank you Dr. Cooper) with Tazo snoozing with one paw draped over my leg to make sure I don’t leave. Simple blessings.
Tazo Calm + Shang Tea Chrysanthemum = sweet little bouquet to assure me that it IS spring. Really.
The chrysanthemum is thick and silky; the goodies in the Tazo sweeten it a bit; the fresh planty-ness of the chrysanthemum overcomes the annoying sweetness of the licorice. Warm cuppa in my hand; warm laptop on my shivering legs. Everybody’s getting along.
Lemongrass (2/3) + Tulsi (1/3), both by San Francisco Herb & Spice = 7/8 tulsi flavor + 1/8 lemongrass flavor.
Nice herbal wind-down, but tulsi is a very demanding leaf that pretty much overpowers whatever I put it with. The only thing I’ve tried that’s actually strong enough to compete is lavender.
Equal parts tulsi (holy basil), lavender, chamomile.
Contininuing the tulsi experimentation and so far, it hasn’t been unwelcoming to anything I’ve thrown into the mix.
Next time … ya think vanilla might work?
Seems to me, and I’ve logged this before, that tulsi, with its lemony personality, is a perfect match for blueberry. (Though I did a quick search and haven’t found any commercial blenders who agree with me enough to package the combo.)
Tonight was no exception; I had a bitty-bit of aging Blueberry Cocktail from SpecialTeas, half-and-halved it with plain no-name tulsi from my local import grocery, and it was just lovely. A good nightcap for a brain that’s already flipped to TV test pattern listening to Lyle Lovett & Co. on Pandora. You couldn’t even get a blip if you hooked me up to a brain scan.
1 tsp. Belgian Chocolate (Savannah Tea Co.) + a scant 1/2 tsp. Earl Gray Melange (a tin of bits’n’bops courtesy of the lovely jacquelinem) = Eureka! I finally found an Earl Gray solution for my picky palate.
The hint of bergamot (instead of bergamot so strong it makes your tongue curl up) is a nice complement to the chocolate, and since I’m a chocolate plus citrus fan, this works.
Made my morning!
Homebrew experiment. Took a wild chance with roughly equal parts lemongrass, coconut, and toasted sesame seeds…a hat-tip to H&S Bangkok Blend.
Plausible. I liked the sesame part of each sip best, which makes me wonder if there’s something else it would jive with a little better.
Putting this in the “chance” category since it’s a home-blend from a co-worker. Thoughtfully given to me as a thank you for turning her on to the tea world.(Like that was an inconvenience ;)
In this case, the student has far surpassed the teacher. She added raspberry flavoring to a good Assam black tea base; I think there’s a little vanilla in the background as well. Results remind me strongly of something in the Marco Polo/Tower of London flavor family.
Adds a little lilt to a gray, gloomy, gusty morning!
Adagio Mambo + Davidson’s Lemon Ginger
Separately, two good teas. Together…just don’t go there. Trust me on this. Blecch!
Recycled Upton Amgoorie Estate Assam leaves (rich, dark, malty) with a half teaspoon of Lover’s Leap Ceylon from Capital Teas to brighten and freshen it up.
Result was a nice little breakfast tea; just not overly strong. Not bad for a half-awake schlep to the kitchen and half-hearted “eh, that’ll do” morning alchemy.
Harney & Sons Vanilla Comoro + Frontier Natural Foods Sunset Rouge
I can’t believe there’s something VC doesn’t go with, but this is it. The tart Sunset Rouge berry flavor, which I was trying to tone down, mutated into stale & vinegary flavor that was just flat nasty.
Holy Basil/Tulsi + chamomile (2 parts tulsi to 1 part chamomile)
I’m discovering that tulsi is a really nice and versatile base to lots of herbal combinations, especially for a clumsy alchemist like me. Its sharp lemony flavor nicely balances with chamomile, which doesn’t adapt to much and always tastes like chamomile.
A good evening unwind and very inexpensive when you buy both in bulk.
H&S Tower of London + cut & sifted mate leaf = not bad!
Mate’ these days, real or imagined, is my magic bullet when I just…can’t…get…going…in the morning. (Heavy storms in area last night…not a good night’s sleep. Head and heart knows Who’s taking care of me, but head didn’t notify the knots in my neck.) 1/2 teaspoon didn’t dull the flavor in a nice big tumbler of Tower of London. Works, flavor-wise. Remains to be seen, energy-wise.