Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Of New Arrivals and Old Year

Hello everyone and happy New Year's Eve!!

Canada Post decided to be kind and surprise me with a tea delivery on this last day of the year.

Couple of weeks ago I ordered a bulk supply of my beloved Dragonwell green tea and Keemum black tea from Teavivre, both of them organic.  Today my purchase arrived.  In addition I got two free samples: The Golden Monkey and Flavoured Milk Oolong.  I've had all of them before except for Flavoured Milk Oolong which I'm very excited to try out.  So far I've had milk oolong from David's Tea and Mandala Tea, and I liked them both very much.  I wonder where Teavivre will score in comparison.

Now I'm sitting here sipping on a lovely Keemum black tea with a little maple syrup and milk.  The full name on the Teavivre site is Organic Superfine Keemum Fragrant Black Tea.  The steeped tea is just like they profess fragrant and may I add delicious.  I'm glad I stocked up.

While I'm writing my blog post my kids are curled up on the couch watching the finale of Avatar. The fireplace is buzzing and the cat is grooming in the nearby chair.  In two short hours the countdown will begin.

Happy New Year everyone!  See you all in 2015! :)

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Sunday Reflections over Jasmine Tea

Isn't it amazing, how much we work, prepare, shop and await the holidays and then they come and go in a blink of an eye?  I've had such a wonderful time with my family that I feel a little sad that Yule and the Christmas have already passed.  Most of my children have left and by the time the New Year hits in couple of days, my son who is still here with us, will be leaving as well.

These are the times when I remind myself to stay in the moment.  To enjoy the present and not think of the past or the future.  We don't do enough of that.  We let our thoughts wonder and torture us and we forget about the present moment which in itself most of the time is nearly perfect.

As I'm sitting here with my kids, writing this blog post while they are watching the Avatar show, I sip on the  Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Pearls tea I got a while ago.  It is by Nourish Tea and I got it at our health food store.  I completely forgot about it and it was just sitting at the back of my tea cupboard getting older by the minute.  I have about 2 or 3 servings left.  I wasn't sure if it didn't get a little to stale to drink but I steeped a cup and the tea is just lovely.

This tea is very temperamental and it's easy for it to go bitter but today it is perfect.  I used two teaspoons of dry leaves and steeped it at 82°C for one minute.  The dry leaves are rolled into beautiful balls and half the fun is brewing this tea and watching the pearls unfold.

The ready tea is fragrant with jasmine flowers and smooth as well as delicate in flavour.  I've heard that the fragrance is too much for some people but for me it always was and still is just right.  This reminds me that I definitely have to try other jasmine teas on the market as this is the only one I've ever tried.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!

"On Christmas Day,
At half past three,
Make your self a cup of tea,
I’ll think of you,
You think of me,
Underneath the Christmas tree"

As I enjoy this Christmas day with my family and drink some wonderful green tea, I want to take the opportunity to extend to you and your family the holiday blessings of love, peace and happiness.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Relaxing minute with Dragonwell tea and a holiday cookie

I don't have to tell you what's going on at my house right now because the same thing is probably happening at yours.  I am cooking, baking, chopping, slicing and cleaning all in preparation for tomorrow's Christmas Eve.  Being from Poland, we always celebrate with family dinner on December 24.

Since I've been running around for six hours straight now, I decided to take a little break with a relaxing tea and  thumbprint cookies I baked couple of days ago.  I need a little sweetness right now.

My tea of choice is Dragonwell from Teavivre.  I've tried three different Dragonwells and this one is definitely the best.  The full name straight from Teavivre website is Organic Superfine Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea.

This tea is delicious, smooth, delicate and creamy.  The dry leaves are mostly light green and have wonderful fresh, vegetal smell.

When steeping, I add a little more leaf, about tablespoon and a half and I steep it only for one minute at 79°C. I get about 3 wonderful steeps out of that.

The ready tea is pale green in colour and has a typical grassy, vegetal aroma.  The taste is smooth, buttery and creamy without any hint of bitterness.  Mind blowing goodness.  Yum!

The cookies that I made come from a recipe I picked up off of internet and tweaked it a bit.  The recipe called for butter only but I added half butter and half coconut oil.  I also included some vanilla. The family approved with mouthfuls of cookies and happy nods.

Thumbprint Cookie Recipe:

2 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 cup of white sugar
1 tsp of vanilla
1/2 cup of unsalted butter
1/2 cup of coconut oil
Your favourite jam

Melt butter and coconut oil and mix it with sugar and vanilla.  Add the flour and fold it in until the dough sticks well.  Make round balls around an inch in diameter and flatten them with your hand. Make a dent in the middle with your finger.  Place you creations on the cookie sheet.  Fill the dent with your favourite jam. For this batch I used black current jam with great results.

Bake at 375°C for 15 minutes.  When cooled you can sprinkle it with icing sugar.  Enjoy.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Birthday afternoon with tea and family

There are two great days in a person's life - the day we are born and the day we discover why."
William Barclay

Today is my birthday and most of my children dropped by to spend it with me.  We decided to go to the Brown Dog, the local cafe for some wonderful Ruben sandwiches and delicious drinks.  Brown Dog's is also a place where my youngest daughter's art is being displayed.  She is such a young budding artist. Her drawing is pictured on the very left side in the photograph below.

Once we took a million pictures of Angel's art, we ordered our food and drinks.  All of us ordered Ruben sandwiches which were made of a toasted bread with Montreal smoked meat, cheese, some sauerkraut, mustard and a pickle on the side.  They don't look like much in the picture but they were seriously delicious!

As to the drinks, of course I had to have a tea.  Last time I was there I tried their Matcha Latte and I loved it so much that I had to have it again today.

My expectations did not disappoint me today; the tea was delicious.  It had a lovely matcha taste and it was creamy and satisfying.  My next loose tea purchase must involve matcha.  I have to try and recreate this piece of heaven at home.

We stayed there for a long time, catching up.  It's not often these days that we all get together.  All of my children except for one, are now adults and lead their own busy lives.  It was great to have them here with me for my birthday.

Now we're all getting ready to go to the movies.  We are seeing the newest Hobbit, one of my all time favourite movies.  I can't wait!


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Brazillionaire by David's Tea

I've wanted to try this tea for quite some time but for some reason or another I never ordered it until now.  The list of ingredients sounds heavenly and the name implies the tea should taste like a million bucks.  You take Brazil nuts and a million bucks and you call it a  Brazillionaire.

When I first open the package the aroma is positively intoxicating.  It's sweet and nutty and full of coconut.  I know there are Brazil nuts in here but I also smell hazelnut.  So far so good.

The package states to use 1.5 teaspoons per cup but I think it should be a little more generous than that.  The raisins and big coconut flakes take up a lot of space and I have to make sure I get enough of the black tea in there too.

I take two generous teaspoons and steep it at boiling water for 5 minutes.  As the tea is brewing, the aroma continues to flirt with my senses, awakening memories of hot pastries and warm homemade pudding.  I'm not sure where this is going but I'm liking it already.

Oh yes.  This tea does not disappoint.  It tastes as good as it smells.  I try it first without any additions and it's everything it supposed to be.   It's smooth, a little sweet and nutty with a nice taste of coconut and a hint of caramel.  There is no astringency at all.

I could just leave it at that but I can't.  I want to go further.  I have a feeling there is even bigger potential here.  I add some hot milk and few drops of maple syrup and all of a sudden I'm catapulted into heaven.  All the flavours are now intensified and the tea turns into a delicious desert.  I can sit here and sip on it all night long.  One of these nights I will turn it into a latte.

Overall, this is another fine blend from David's Tea and I'm glad it's in my cabinet.  I will definitely be restocking it once my supply goes down.

Ingredients: Black Tea, Brazil nuts, golden raisins, coconut chips, natural and artificial flavouring

Steeping temperature: Boiling
Steeping time: 5 minutes
Steeped amount: 2 generous teaspoons

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Of New Arrivals and Happiness

"You can't buy happiness but you can buy tea and that's kind of the same thing."

Yesterday almost felt like Christmas.  It always feels like that when the new tea order arrives.  It's really very difficult to comprehend but there are few things and far in between that could arrive by mail that will make me as happy as when I find a tea in my mailbox.

Why is it?  What does tea represent that make me feel this way?  

Is it comfort, that homey feeling when you sit with a hot cup of tea in front of the roaring fire on a cold winter morning?  

Or maybe it's when you're curled up on the couch in your pyjamas with a good book and a biscuit on a dark wintery afternoon while the snow storm rages outside.

Whatever it is when the tea order arrives it evokes all those feelings and more.

That's exactly how I felt yesterday when my David's Tea order arrived.  Inside was Coconut Oolong (goodness gracious I thought I will never see it again), black tea blend Brazillionaire and and green tea Dragonwell.  In addition there were three free samples that David's Tea always includes with every order.  This time I got herbal Midsummer Night's Dream, herbal Forever Nuts and Rooibos de Provence.

Over the next few days I'll be busy trying out these new teas.  My taste buds can't wait!


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Earl Grey With Milk Hits The Spot

"There is no need to have any special attitude while drinking except one of thankfulness.  The nature of the tea itself is that of no-mind."
- Pojong Sunim

On the cold and foggy afternoon like today, Earl Grey with milk really hits the spot.  It does.  The fog seems to permeate through the bricks of our country house, down my skin and deep into my bones.

There is chill in the air that only a cup of hot tea can conquer.

My Earl Grey with milk is smooth, fragrant and delicious.  It soothes my soul and delights my taste buds.  I supplemented it with a just few drops of pure maple syrup for added health benefits and sweetness.  And a plate of my homemade cookies.  My world needs a little sweetness today.

There should be an order from David's Tea arriving in my mailbox this afternoon.  I can hardly contain myself while I wait.  It has couple of items I am dying to try and of course there are free samples too.  I love David's Tea free samples.  They are like a present every time.

What am I going to get today?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sunday Afternoon with Master Han's 2013 Sheng Pu'er

This tea has a character, that for sure.  I think all young shengs do.  It will treat you well if you prepare it right, but it will bite your tongue if you don't pay attention to what you're doing.

The very first time I tried a young sheng I steeped it for one full minute.

That was a wrong move.

When I took a sip I was stunned at the bitterness.  I went all the way back to the drawing board and figured out what I did wrong.  Young sheng loves short steeps.  Yes.

Last year I acted on an impulse and got a whole brick of fresh young 2013 Master Han's Sheng from Verdant Tea.  I was a little scared at first because I knew first hand how temperamental young sheng can be.  It cost me a pretty penny and arrived in a tightly packed square brick with aroma to die for.  I prepared a special spot for it in the bookcase in my bedroom, away from all the household smells.  If all goes well I should be able to age it successfully.  That is of course if I don't drink it all too fast.

2013 Master Han's Sheng Pu'er brick

2013 Master Han's Sheng Pu'er leaves

When I want to enjoy it, I prepare it with 7 grams of leaf per 6 ounces of 95°C water.  I rinse the leaves first and let them sit for one minute.  My first steep is only for 5 seconds, followed by subsequent steeps of 10 seconds each.  I like to have 3-4 steeps overall.

Prepared cup of 2013 Master Han's Sheng Pu'er 

The prepared tea is fragrant and a little fruity with a hint of orchids and wood.  Because the steeps are so short there is not even a hint of bitterness.  It's exquisite.  There is something else.  When I first steep it I swear I can smell bacon.  Yes.  Bacon.  If I learned anything from various kinds of teas that I've tried, it is that they can surprise you in more ways than one.


Friday, December 12, 2014

Dark Roast 10 Year Aged Tieguanyin

My love affair with roasted oolong tea began a year ago when I tried Dark Roast 10 year aged tieguanyin from Verdant Tea for the first time.  I enjoyed oolong tea before that but roasted oolong is definitely a tea in its own category.  The strong floral notes of regular oolong take a back seat to the bold, full bodied flavour of the roasted kind.  It is a very different tea indeed.

This roasted oolong I like to prepare by a gong fu method in part because I'm never satisfied with just one or two steeps.  I like to have it over and over again.

I use boiling water and 7 grams per 6 ounces of tea leaves.

I steep it many times starting with very short steeps of 3, 6 and 10 seconds each.  At this point the liquid is light brown and the taste is roasty, fruity with a hint of floral notes.  Afterwards I continue increasing the steep times until I get bored or there is little flavour left.  At the 30 second mark the tea is dark brown with rich, roasty, full body flavour and a hint of caramel.

Currently my stash is at dangerously low level.  Fortunately, after checking Verdant Tea website I was able to confirm that this incredible tea is in stock. Let me tell you how much my heart jumped for joy when I saw it listed.  I will have to re-order soon.  Dark Roast 10 year aged Tieguanyin has become a staple in my tea cupboard.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Salted Caramel/Pure Chai Latte

I confirmed last night that I don't need a glorified milk frother to make some delicious latte.  My good old hand held mixer is getting the job done just fine with its whisking attachment.  The tea fanatic in me still says it would be nice to have a dedicated milk frother which can probably do even better job but the practical me says I should go without it.

Who will win?

I'm not sure yet.  Meantime last night I decided to mix up my tea flavours for some fun.  I blended David's Tea Pure Chai with Salted Caramel and steeped it at higher concentration that I usually would.  I added some maple syrup to the brew when it was done.

In a separate cup I heated up some whole milk until it foamed up and then whisked it until it formed a thick froth on the top.  I then poured the frothy milk into my steeped tea.

It was delicious.  It was paradise.  It made my taste buds dance hula with joy.