Thursday, January 31, 2013

My journey with Dragonwell

I love dragons.  I did since I was a kid.  If your tea has a word dragon in it I will definitely try it at least once.  Hopefully it will live up to the name.  To me a dragon means that it's something out of ordinary, exciting, something that will make me pay attention.

When I first got introduced to loose tea, I had no idea where to go to find me a good green.  Even with the bags it was hit and miss and mostly miss.  I didn't even know what I was looking for but I knew that if I found it I would know.  I researched the world of loose green tea and found out that Dragonwell is the most popular green tea in China.  I just had to try that!

I decided to go with DAVIDsTEA for my first time.

I have to say this tea has surprised me in more ways than one.  I can't really compare it to anything else because this is the first straight loose green tea that I've tried and the only one so far.  For sure I cannot compare it to the bags either.  This one is a whole new animal all on its own.

I still remember the day that I got this tea.  I was so excited, the leaves looked beautiful, their aroma was delicate and nice.

I brewed myself a nice pot.  I counted the minutes in anticipation.  The water in the pot was turning a lovely shade of green.  All was good.  I lifted a lid and took a whiff....

This couldn't be.  I went back to the package to re-check whether I got what I ordered.  Yes, this was Dragonwell, but if this was the most popular tea in China why did it smell like that?  I couldn't put my finger on the smell... It was vegetal, grassy, asparagus like, spinach, or maybe all four together?  Definitely not what I expected.  I was disappointed.

I tasted the tea and the taste was definitely going hand in hand with the aroma.  Vegetal, grassy, asparagus like, spinach or all four?  I finished the pot and contemplated whether I should return the tea or give it another shot.  I knew from reviews that people liked it.  Was there something wrong with me?

I decided to give it another shot.  And another.  And another.

This was about two weeks ago and I am pleased to say that this tea has grown on me.  It has wrapped itself around and plunged it's roots into the very core of my being.  I love this tea.  After about few days I couldn't wait to get up in the morning and steep myself a nice pot.  It became an integral part of my morning.

I know I have to keep trying other loose green teas because drinking bagged green tea all these years has definitely taught my palate nothing, but for now this one has won my heart.  It's very much vegetal and a little grassy with some earthy tones thrown in there for good measure.... and it's delicious.  I know I want Dragonwell in my cupboard.  Always.

Steeping temperature: 82C

Steeping time: 5 min

Steeped in: Clear glass teapot


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Coco Chai Rooibos by DAVIDsTEA

This tea arrived at my doorstep as a sample included with my latest DAVIDsTEA order.  Since I've never had rooibos before, I was excited to try it.

Let's have us a cuppa!

Out of the drawer the scissors go, the package is snipped open and first whiff is inhaled.  The tea smells delicious which is a no particular surprise after noting the ingredients listed in the sample.  The aroma is sweet, I detect cinnamon and a little coconut.  It looks interesting too.  I love the added visual touch of red peppercorns, they just look adorable in there.  They are actually called pink peppercorns but they look definitely red to me.

I brew this tea according to the instructions on the packet.  The aroma now fills the kitchen, it's sweet and spicy, I'm loving it.

As I take the first sip my socks are being knocked off.  This stuff is amazing!  It's smooth and slightly sweet with no astringency, only pure and gentle love.  The coconut has now taken a back seat and what I really taste is apples and cinnamon, and let me tell you, I love apples and cinnamon.  The fact that rooibos is naturally caffeine free it's an added bonus.  I can drink this concoction and not worry about climbing the walls! Awesome!

The color is very pleasing to my eye, deep orange red and it tastes as good as it looks.

The only problem I find with this tea is that among listed ingredients there is also artificial flavoring.  I don't mean to be a pain in the behind but I tend to exclude anything made with artificial flavoring from my food and drink list.  This tea will be no exception but I am so impressed with the aroma and taste that I will look for something similar to this in the organic and all natural department.

Oh yes, I'm inspired to do one more thing.  Find me a jar of pink peppercorns.  Until today I didn't know about their existence and now I want these little guys.

Ingredients: Rooibos, coconut, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, pink peppercorns, natural and artificial flavouring

Brewing temperature: Boiling

Brewing time: 7 minutes

Brewed in: Chinese blue and white ceramic teapot


Monday, January 28, 2013

It's Delivery Day!

I love the days when I wake up and know that something fun is due to arrive in the mail.  Notice, I included the word 'fun' because lots of things arrive in the mail everyday and none of them are fun.  They are mostly bills.

Today was a different kind of mail day.  I was expecting new delivery from DAVIDsTEA.  Last week I ordered Egyptian Chamomile (organic) and Peppermint Amour (organic).  I was out of both of these herbs and decided to give DAVIDsTEA a try.

The package took roughly a week to get to me and as usual included three free random samples. They put them in every online order.  Uh oh, that's like being a kid in a candy store and salesperson tells you to pull out your hand because he will throw some free candy your way.  What am I going to get?  What am I going to get?  The prospect of getting some mystery samples of tea is just as exciting as the main delivery itself.

First on to the main product.  The Egyptian Chamomile.  When I first opened the bag it smelled delightful, just like chamomile should.  It looked good too.  I'll be having a cup tonight before going to bed.

Organic Egyptian Chamomile

The second main product was Peppermint Amour.  It too smelled amazing, so good in fact that I couldn't take my nose out of the bag. I hope it will taste as good as it smells.  Judging by the reviews on Steepster I shouldn't be disappointed.

Organic Peppermint Amour

Moving on to my three free samples, they were:

  1. Read My Lips (Chinese black tea, peppermint, dark chocolate, red lip sprinkles, pink peppercorns, natural and artificial flavouring)
  2. Orange Pekoe (Fine black tea from Ceylon, Sri Lanka)
  3. Coco Chai Rooibos (Rooibos, coconut, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, pink peppercorns, natural and artificial flavouring)

All three sound very exciting although I could do without the artificial flavouring.  Something about the word 'artificial' that makes me want to avoid it in my food or drinks.  Anyhow, a sample won't kill me and I will be trying these out for fun but anything that I'll buy with cold, hard cash will be artificial flavouring free.

There is another package enroute to me and scheduled to arrive on Thursday.  It contains some Darjeeling and Oolong.  Can't wait!!


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Of Cheese Biscuits and a Post Dinner Cuppa

This morning I logged into the Blogger and found a post by Bernideen of Bernideen's Tea Time Blog in which I found a recipe for these wonderful Cheddar Bay Biscuits. I'm a sucker for baked goods especially in the winter time, so very quickly, I was burning with desire to try them out.

I baked these at the same time as I was cooking dinner because I just love multitasking. That and the fact that I wanted to have them ready right after dinner so I can enjoy them with my after dinner tea.  I didn't have old bay seasoning so I left that ingredient out but not to worry...

The biscuits turned out amazing! They were tasty and tender with wonderfully crumbly texture, I just couldn't get enough. They looked delicious too. I completely terrorized my family and didn't let anyone to have a crumb until they all finished their dinner and licked the plates with which everyone dutifully complied.

After scuffing several biscuits I had myself a nice cup of Silver Needle. Yum! What a wonderful after dinner snack!  The whole family loved it too!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Of Glass Teapots and Ginger Spiced Brew

Have you ever had one of these days when luck just smiles at you?  Of course you did, they happen to all of us every now and then.  Today it was my turn to have one of these days.

I walked into my favorite second hand shop and found Teaopia (now Teavana) glass teapot with infuser, completely intact.  I've been checking out different teapots for almost two years now.  Whenever I'm at my favorite second hand shops I always check the teapot and tea sets section.  I have never seen all glass teapot yet until today.  I'm so happy because I really wanted one and they are quite pricey.  Today I didn't need to worry about the price because at $2.99 it was a steal.  On the side note, there are so many things that I want and it's nice to score a steal every now and then, right?

Such wonderful turn of events simply had to be celebrated and the only way to do it was to brew something good in my new teapot.  After washing the pot carefully (oh my, this thing is so delicate, I can imagine it could shatter just by me staring at it for too long) and drying it thoroughly, it was time for the after dinner cuppa.

This had to be a special brew, possibly something I haven't had yet but wanted to try. I decided to try one of the samplers sent to me with my latest order of DAVIDsTEA: The Skinny. It's an organic oolong blend and I've been having my eye on it for a while.

The Organic Skinny Ingredients: Chinese oolong tea, Chinese pu'erh tea, ginger, eleuthero, orange peel, natural orange and ginger flavorings.

Upon tearing the sample package I was greeted with a delicious aroma reminiscent of citrus with a tiny hint of ginger. I really enjoyed that. Usually when the tea smells yummy pre-steep it is an indication of good things to come.

I steeped the tea for about 5 minutes at which point the color was beautiful shade of red, not too light and not too dark. The scent has now changed slightly. It was spicy with bigger emphasis on ginger. Taste-wise ginger was also very prominent but still not overwhelmingly so.  You have to know that I'm not a big fan of ginger in my tea (unless I need it for health reasons) and so this could have potentially been a tasting disaster.

I was pleasantly surprised. The tea was delicious in taste, very smooth and with a subtle hint of sweetness. My youngest daughter, who joined me in this sample tasting, added a tiny bit of organic cane sugar to it and she too has enjoyed his tea. It's maybe not something that I feel compelled to have a tin full in my tea cabinet but if available, I will most certainly have a cup of.

I give this tea a handsome 8/10

Till next time,


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Silver Needle White Tea from Teavana

I'm going to start my tea travels with the mention of my favorite white tea which is Silver Needle.  I happen to currently have the Teavana brand because that is the first and only Silver Needle that I tried.  If there are better brands, then all the better because I just adore this tea.

I first found out about the white tea and its benefits back in September 2012 and right away I wanted to score myself a package.  Back then I was still oblivious to the loose tea existence and so I began my search for the perfect cup of bagged white tea.  I bought countless boxes of bagged white tea and each time I was more disappointed than the next.  Not only the taste wasn't anything special, but also every brand of white tea I bought brewed into ugly brown liquid even though white tea supposed to have gorgeous golden color.  My white tea was looking darker than my green tea!  How could that be? Every website I checked said that the color indicates the freshness and quality of the tea and so I thought I'm simply not having any luck finding fresh, top quality white tea.  Sadly, I eventually gave up and went back to drinking green tea.

My Silver Needle Storage Tin
When in December I finally discovered Teavana, I also discovered that they carried Silver Needle which I knew was premium brand loose white tea.  I was super excited and immediately bought myself a tin full of it.  What a delight!!  The only regret I have is that I haven't done it sooner.

I store my Silver Needle in a metal tin, which is mostly white in appearance (as you can see in the picture to the left) because this is such light and delicate tea.  Although I have a fondness for glass jars and would love to stare at those beautiful tea buds whenever I'm in the kitchen, I do understand that tea leaves have specific storage guidelines and should not be exposed to several things, one of them being light.  I could always put the jar in my tea cabinet but then I couldn't stare at it anyways so for now I will keep the tin.

I love opening the tin and taking a whiff of the wonderful aroma this tea emanates.  The buds are of various sizes, some smaller, some larger and they are all covered in tiny white hair, giving the tea a bit of a silver hue.   Add to it their pointy shape and you got the name Silver Needle.  Nobody told me this... I figured it out myself... Ha!

Silver Needle before brewing

Silver Needle after brewing

I usually brew this tea for about seven minutes or so, a bit longer than the recommended five.  I find that I get more flavor this way and you cannot go wrong with that.  I don't worry about bitterness because I found that no matter what I do, this tea simply doesn't turn bitter.  Ever.

The resulting brew has a gorgeous golden color and the aroma reminds me of raw honey.  As to taste, it is very light, a bit sweet and slightly floral... maybe even a hint of honey as well.

My youngest daughter who is seven years old often asks to have a sip of this tea and when I give her the mug I usually don't get it back.  I don't add any honey or sugar to my teas so I think it speaks volumes if seven years old likes it.

On the scale of 1-10 I give this tea a full 10.  Remember, I'm not a seasoned tea critic, only an average woman who happens to like tea... but I do like this one... a lot.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

How did it all began?

This blog happened because I wanted to log my tea experiences.  Not because I'm some kind of tea connoisseur, tea critic or any of the sorts.  It happened because I rediscovered loose tea again.

My tea affair began before Christmas when I was buying presents for the family.  Couple of people suggested tea gifts and I remember thinking "what could be so exciting about a tea?".  I mean, I like to drink tea, I have a cup of green and white tea every day but popping a bag into the cup is hardly exciting at all and how many exciting tea gift choices could there be?

Without further due, I dived into the world of tea and discovered that:
  1. There are countless gift ideas for tea.  Who would have known?
  2. Tea in Canada doesn't only come in tea bags!  
I'm obviously being sarcastic here, deep down inside I already knew that there are options other than tea bags, but that thought haven't entered my conscious mind for years.  You probably reading this and laughing but to me this is not a laughing matter.  Unless you buy your tea somewhere other than supermarket or convenience store, you would never know that loose tea exists in Canada.

Silver Needle White Tea
Since I was a little girl, as far as my memories take me, my mom always drank tea.  I remember tea leaves on the bottom of tea cups, the cool little tea infuser my mom had and the intoxicating aroma of tea when you popped the lid of the tea can.

Somewhere between that and my adulthood the image of a tin filled with little wonders that were the beautifully rolled whole tea leaves has been replaced with image and convenience of a tea bag.  And so my excitement fizzled.  I find that sad.

Now that I've rediscovered this wondrous plant again, I want to document my journey into its world and I want you there with me.  We might not always agree on everything that I'll say, but I think it will be fun.