I Dread The Greens

Adagio Masters Collection

Yesterday, after the 16-inches of snow had been plowed and the cars de-iced, I settled in with a pot of Gyokuro Imperial from Teavana.

I had been putting off trying this green tea since October, the day I purchased it at the Teavana store at the Mall of America, simply because I was afraid I wouldn’t like it.

I realize that the above may sound quite absurd, but I tend to not be a big fan of green tea. Yet, I really do want to like it.

Of course, my familiarity with green tea is quite limited. I’ve only had two loose green teas my entire life, both of which I surprisingly liked: English Tea Store’s Jasmine with Flowers and Pinhead Gunpowder.

Despite this agreeable encounter, however, my aversion to green tea continued to linger. I’m not sure of the primary cause, but I seem to dread the greens.

Although, my recent scare (drove to work in a bizzard and almost went into the ditch several times) seemed to have given me the chutzpah to finally give the Gyokuro Imperial a try.

At first, I wasn’t sure if I liked the flavor in my cup; it was quite vegetal tasting. But then the flavor started to grow on me, the creamy finish certainly helped.

The color of the liquor was a beautiful greenish-yellowish hue, which I attempted to capture via my digital camera. While I was doing this, my pot of green tea went cold and turned a dark, piss yellow. This wasn’t very appetizing, so I ended up throwing the rest away.

I could have done a second infusion with the leaves, but decided against it because it was getting late.

Hopefully, someday I will start to appreciate green tea more fully and stop dreading them!

For now, I think I’ll stick with my robust black tea and venture every so often in green territory.

Vendor Provided Sample: No

Affiliate Links: No

Photo Credit: A Girl With Tea

This is “a girl with tea” signing off once again.

Remember to live, laugh, love and drink plenty of tea.

Are there any types of teas that you dread or are afraid to try?

Scones, Tea and Creative Flow

Trader Joe's Wild Blueberry Scone

The day started off with a Trader Joe’s Wild Blueberry Scone and a pot of Teavana’s Copper Knot Hongcha. Yum!

Then I got to taking some tea pictures and uploading them to Flickr.com and before I knew it, I was starving and in need of food and drink.

Not Wanting to Stop

When I get into creative mode, I tend to not stop until I start feeling dizzy from lack of sustenance. Unfortunately, by this point, I am so hungry that I grab whatever is most convenient.

I know better.

Yet, being in that creative zone is tremendously satisfying.

When I think about it, I realize that there is a part of me that is afraid to take a break.  I fear that I won’t be able to find that exhilarating and wonderful flow again.

Eventually my body starts screaming at me, and I am forced to stop, whether my mind wants to or not!

Taking A Break

When I finally decided it was time to take a break I felt exhausted from focusing on one thing for too long.

Dinner was devoured and then I made a pot of Carrot Cake rooibos tea from The NecessiTeas. I settled in for the night with my teapot filled with delicious goodness and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

Sidenote: I’m a big Star Trek fan…I even love the original series with William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy!  Woohoo!

Anyway, I hope I can find my creative flow again tomorrow and remember to take a break before I get burnt-out again.

Vendor Provided Sample: No

Affiliate Links: No

Photo Credit: A Girl With Tea

This is “a girl with tea” signing off once again.

Remember to live, laugh, love and drink plenty of tea.

Do you like to drink tea when you work on a creative project?

A Trip to Trader Joe’s for Tea

jarchie – via Flickr CC Attribution License

On the way home from work tonight, I decided to stop at the new Trader Joe’s store in town. I had never been to one of their grocery stores before so, I was looking forward to a new adventure. I was also hoping to find some cool new tea to try.

After wandering around the store for a good 20 minutes taking in all that Trader Joe’s had to offer, I finally made it over to the tea section.

Looking over the selection of teas, which was pretty sparse, I had a sinking feeling that I was not going to find anything exciting to purchase tonight. Bummer.

I saw that they do carry Yogi tea, but I can purchase that anywhere in town.

Although, they do have several of their own store-brand teas.

After a few moments of deliberation, I decided to try their Vanilla & Cinnamon Black Tea. I suspected that it would be similar to Celestial Seasonings Nutcracker Sweet, which has been an annual holiday favorite. I guess I would soon find out.

Trader Joe’s and Celestial Seasonings (Vanilla and Cinnamon Tea)

When I got home, I immediately tore off the plastic wrapping from the unpretentious light-blue box, lifted the pressed-cardboard lid and opened the wax paper seal. At that moment my nose encountered a very familiar scent: the tantalizing fragrance of warm vanilla and spice.

Once I actually got to drinking Trader Joe’s holiday tea, I knew for certain that this tea was very much like Nutcracker Sweet, but maybe just a tad weaker.

So much for trying something new…

Maybe I’ll try another one of Trader Joe’s teas in the future, but for now I think I’ll take a few moments and enjoy a warm cup of vanilla and cinnamon black tea.

Vendor Provided Sample: No

Affiliate Links: No

Additional Photo Credits: A Girl With Tea

This is “a girl with tea” signing off once again.

Remember to live, laugh, love and drink plenty of tea.

Have you ever tried any of Trader Joe’s teas?

Black Tea Review: Adagio Yunnan Jig

Yunnan Jig

Company/Brand Name: Adagio

Name: Yunnan Jig

Category: Black Tea

Form: Loose Leaf

Origin of the Leaf: Yunnan, China

The Leaves: I thought the leaves were quite fine-looking; a mix of brown-black leaves interspersed with golden tips. They smelled as good as they looked with just a hint of cocoa scent.

Additions: None

Flavor: A smooth, malty black tea that is slightly spicy. It has a clean finish and never seems to go bitter.

Overall: I really enjoyed the malty, rich flavor of the Yunnan Jig, but its flavors were a bit elusive. In addition, I was never able to detect a cocoa flavor that the dried leaves had revealed.

Tea Review:

Over the last seven days I consumed my entire sample of Yunnan Jig from Adagio. It wasn’t because this was the best tea I’d ever tasted.

Rather, I went through all of the tea leaves trying to pin down the flavor profile. Once I found that nearly perfect cup, I wasn’t able to replicate it, no matter how hard I tried.

It all started the moment I opened the package.  Once I saw the abundance of lovely golden tips and inhaled the beguiling aroma of the dry leaves, I had high expectations for a delicious cup of tea.

But, that ideal cup would elude me.

Each cup seemed to tease me with indistinct flavors hidden behind a strong, malty black tea. I could sense this tea had more to give than simply its robustness.

Yet, the leaves didn’t seem to want me to decode their inner secrets.

Then one day I had a glimpse of glory. Perhaps on that day my good mood encouraged the leaves to reveal themselves fully.

What I experienced in my teacup was a creamy richness that had a touch of spice to it. The almost peppery flavor actually enhanced the earthy-maltiness to give this tea that special something.

Lastly, the Yunnan Jig has a nice clean finish. In other words, there was just enough astringency in the tea to leave a refreshing sensation in my mouth.

The taste of that ideal cup reminded me of the tango; a sultry and fiery dance that tantalizes you with bold, controlled moves and then surprises you with a dip here and there. The mysterious hint of spiciness is the unexpected dip of the tango. It surprises you, but delights you as well.

Adagio Sample Packaging

Packaging:

I purchased the sample size of this tea, which came in a foil-lined pouch. The name of the tea and steeping instructions where provided on the re-sealable pouch.

Preparation Tips:

I followed the instructions on the Adagio bag: 1 heaping teaspoon per cup for 3-5 minutes at 212F. As I have done in my last several tea reviews, I once again used my one-serving glass teapot from China to steep the leaves.

Additional Notes:

Infusions – I thought this tea was best when steeping it only once because I found the subsequent infusions to a bit weak for my taste. I even attempted to keep the first infusion under two minutes, with the hope that the second infusion would be a little more robust. However, I just ended up with two weak cups of tea.

On the plus side, I accidently left this tea steeping for a good 20 minutes and it was still drinkable. It never got bitter.

I Want This Tea!

If you’d like to purchase this tea, just click the link below. Enjoy!

Adagio

Vendor Provided Sample: No

Affiliate Links: No

Photo Credit: A Girl With Tea

This is “a girl with tea” signing off once again.

Remember to live, laugh, love and drink plenty of tea.

 

A New Tea Culture

jeffk - via Flickr CC Attribution License

I’ve been feeling a tug-of-war going on inside me for some time now. It’s a battle between living a traditional tea lifestyle and a modern tea lifestyle.

This week, the contrast of those two lifestyles became quite apparent.

Traditional Tea Culture

I’ve been reading an exquisite book called Tea Life, Tea Mind. It’s by Soshitsu Sen XV, a Japanese Grand Tea Master, and discusses Chado or The Way of Tea.

Simply stated, it’s about preparing, serving and receiving tea in a way that has been passed down from one generation to the next.

These customary practices inspire beauty, kindness, honor, grace and respect.

There is a part of me that highly values these ideals. In fact, I cannot imagine living life in a manner that doesn’t reflect these principles.

From a traditional viewpoint, I feel myself pulled to the simple life; a life of peace and tranquility where the din of the world is merely an illusion of progress.

Modern Tea Culture

On the flip side, I recently came across an article titled: Lady Gaga Sparks Afternoon Tea Revival

In the commentary, a representative of Debenhams, a British department store, is quoted as saying that the eccentric, pop diva is driving the trend towards tea drinking.

I have to wonder if Lady Gaga is perhaps the tea master of the new millennium.

Her highly-creative, push-the-boundaries, self-expressive and versatile ways have captivated those of us craving the freedom to be ourselves and break free from cubicle hell.

Through her passion and drive, she encourages us to make our own personal statement.

What’s truly brilliant is our declaration doesn’t have to be bold nor brash; it can be as simple as picking up a cup of tea. Our individuality can shine through in our choice of beverage.

In a sense, the modern tea culture can be summed up in four words: Be different, drink tea.

The New Tea Culture

As I take a step back, and reflect on the old and the new. I realize that they both have much to share and contribute.

However, when trying to come to terms with the two sides of myself, the peaceful eremite and daring trailblazer, I find myself stuck. Stuck right in the middle of a life that is neither serene nor remarkable.

I have to ask myself, “Must I choose between a traditional and modern tea lifestyle?” or, “Can I have the best of both worlds?”

This is the question that haunts me because I don’t have an answer. Although, deep down I sense that it is possible to have a balance amongst the two.

Finding the equilibrium between honoring the past and embracing the future is my struggle, but I am certain that it is not my quest alone. I believe it comes down to survival, if you don’t grow you die. It is the human condition.

As a collective we have made incredible progress this past decade in science, technology and public policy. With this knowledge, that we can be and do better, I am confident that I can help to create a new tea culture—a culture that inspires peace, freedom and individuality.

In fact, it may even be my mission.

This is “a girl with tea” signing off once again.

Be different, drink tea!

What do you think of the idea of a new tea culture?

Black Tea Review: Teavana Copper Knot Hongcha

Copper Knot Hongcha

Company/Brand Name: Teavana

Name: Copper Knot Hongcha

Category: Black Tea

Form: Loose Leaf

Origin of the Leaf: Yunnan Province of China

The Leaves: A beautiful black tea with lots of golden tips, all of which are hand-curled into a spiraling knot

Additions: None

Flavor: A rich, malty and earthy black tea with notes of dark chocolate and just a touch of sweetness

Overall: I found this tea to be absolutely captivating cup after cup. The Copper Knot Hongcha has wonderful depth and complexity that makes it quite intriguing. In addition, I really enjoyed playing around with different infusions in an attempt to acquire the perfect cup. I would definitely purchase again!

Tea Review:

I’ve been drinking the Copper Knot Hongcha for about a week now and I still find each cup to be a bit of a mystery, which made drinking this tea lots of fun! However, I think I may have unlocked one or two of the secrets this tea has to tell.

For instance, when using water just under boiling, the tea reveals its chocolaty undertones and malty flavor. But, when its lovely leaves are steeped in boiling water, a rich brew is produced with some bite too it; reminding me of my coffee drinking days.

In addition to this tea’s interesting flavor profile, I found it quite entertaining to watch the leaves unfurl as they steeped. Not to mention the imagery that came to mind when sipping this tea.

I often imagined a log cabin nestled in the woods on a cool spring-like day, when the snow is just starting to melt. This imagery came to mind, I believe, because this tea has sweet-earthy taste to it, reminding me of how the ground smells when it is allowed to see the sun after several months of a snowy, cold hibernation. A perfect tea on a cold, dreary winter day when springtime seems to far away.

Washi Tea Tins from Teavana

Packaging:

I had purchased the Copper Knot Hongcha from the Teavana store at the Mall of America. Since I didn’t have any canisters at home, I decided to also purchase a Washi tea tin. I had the friendly Teavana guy place my loose leaves in the red canister for safe keeping!

Preparation Tips:

Teavana suggested using one teaspoon of tea per eight ounces of water, heated to 195F. The leaves should steep for about 2-3 minutes. I found these directions to be fairly accurate.

I used my one-serving, glass teapot to steep the leaves, which worked okay. However, I would recommend using a larger teapot to give the leaves even more room to expand, because the unfurled leaves are quite large.  Adagio’s PersonaliTEA teapot worked very well for this purpose; I took out the brewing basket, which gave the leaves plenty of room to unfold.

Additional Notes:

Infusions – You’ll want to play around with different infusion times to find your perfect cup. I personally found that I was able to get two delicious infusions from the Copper Knot Hongcha. For the first infusion, I steeped the leaves for about 2 to 3 minutes. Then, for the second infusion, I allowed the leaves to brew for a good 5 minutes.

I do like my tea on the stronger side, so if you prefer a lighter brew you may be able to get a few more infusions out of the leaves than I did.

Oh, I even forgot about my brew a couple times. When I finally remembered to check on it, the leaves had been steeping for a good ten minutes or more. Yet, this tea never got bitter.

I Want This Tea!

If you’d like to purchase this tea or shop for over 100 types of other healthy, gourmet teas, as well as teapots and other  accessories, then click the link below. Teavana offers free ground shipping on orders over $50.

Teavana

Vendor Provided Sample: No

Affiliate Links: Yes

Photo Credit: A Girl With Tea

This is “a girl with tea” signing off once again.

Remember to live, laugh, love and drink plenty of tea.

 

Living a Tea Lifestyle is a Personal Journey

mysza831 - via Flickr CC Attribution License

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to live a tea lifestyle.

At first, I thought it was simply about making tea my beverage of choice.

Then, I naturally gravitated to the idea that living a tea lifestyle is also about taking the time to sit down, relax and have a cup of tea.

To fully enjoy that cup of tea, I discovered that it was essential to be in the moment, to relish each sensation that the tea was willing to provide.

The next logical conclusion seemed to be that in order to make time for tea I had to have some amount of balance in my life.

Despite, the reasonableness of it all, I felt as if something was missing. I sensed that there was more to uncover. Yet, I just couldn’t put my finger on it.

At that point it dawned on me, living a tea lifestyle is a personal journey; a unique experience that comes from who you are and what you want from life.

After coming to the above realization, I decided to sit down and outline what living a tea lifestyle means to me personally.

Here is what I came up with:

  1. Being real and expressing who I am in my daily actions.
  2. Making connections with nature, people and spirit.
  3. Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.
  4. Doing what is right, even if it isn’t easy.
  5. Taking care of my body so, I can fully enjoy life and do those things that bring me joy.
  6. Being mindful of all that I have to be grateful for, from a warm cup of tea in my hands to a roof over my head.
  7. Taking time each day to reflect on what is important to me.

I plan to use the above beliefs as a map to help guide me towards the next step on my journey. Perhaps one day I can fully live the tea lifestyle.

This is “a girl with tea” signing off once again.

Remember to live, laugh, love and drink plenty of tea.

What does living a tea lifestyle look like to you?

Black Tea Review: Adagio Ceylon Sonata

Ceylon Sonata

Company/Brand Name: Adagio

Name: Ceylon Sonata

Category: Black Tea

Form: Loose Leaf

Origin of the Leaf: Sri Lanka

The Leaves: Midnight black cut leaves, with patches of rusty dark-brown

Additions: None

Flavor: A balanced black tea with some astringency and an ever so slight citrusy flavor which is rounded off by a touch of toasty-smokiness

Overall: My first impression of the Ceylon Sonata was that it tasted a little weak, but after spending some quality time with this tea I found that I really started to enjoy it.

Tea Review:

At first, I was a bit perplexed by the flavor profile. There seemed to be a faint hint of fruitiness. But what really captured my attention was a tangy-bitter taste that seemed to linger on the tongue.

I noticed some astringency as well, feeling my mouth pucker slightly, as if I were eating a citrus fruit. That’s when it hit me, the tea tasted ever so slightly of lemon.

Complementing the citrusy flavor, I found a touch of toastiness. For whatever reason, that is the word that keeps coming to mind. Not malty or biscuity, but toasty.

After further examination, I had begun to realize that the toastiness I was experiencing was in fact, a subtle smokiness.

It’s not a Lapsang Souchong kind of smokiness, which conjures of images of roaring campfires with big billows of smoke rising into the air. The smoky flavor is more reminiscent of trying to cook toast with a match flame. Not that I’ve tried that lately!

An interesting image comes to mind when sipping on the Ceylon Sonata: I am sitting in a canoe out in the middle of a calm lake on a cold, brisk fall day. I can sense the chill in the air, but remain nice and toasty warm in my thermal outdoor wear. As I look across the lake, I see the vibrant colors of the turning leaves in the morning sun.

To me this imagery makes perfect sense, because the tangy-crispness of the tea is like the refreshing chilly, crisp air of fall. The vibrant colors of the trees, along with my layers of clothing, bring a sense of warmth to the picture, which captures the toasty-smoky flavor of the tea.

Adagio Sample Packaging

Packaging: 

I ordered the sample size of this tea, which came in a foil-lined bag that was re-sealable.

Preparation Tips: 

I followed the instructions on the Adagio bag: 1 teaspoon per cup for 3-5 minutes at 212F, except that I made it a “heaping teaspoon” of tea.

I went straight for my one-serving, glass teapot this time. I didn’t even bother with the stainless steel, mesh ball infuser because it’s simply too small to give the leaves room to expand.

Additional Notes:

Infusions – I was able to get two infusions from the Ceylon Sonata. For the first infusion, I steeped the leaves for about 2 to 3 minutes. Then for the second infusion, I coaxed out whatever the leaves had left to give in a five minute steeping.

I Want This Tea!

If you’d like to purchase this tea, just click the link below. Enjoy!

Adagio

Vendor Provided Sample: No 

Affiliate Links: No

Photo Credit: A Girl With Tea

This is “a girl with tea” signing off once again.

Remember to live, laugh, love and drink plenty of tea.

 

Black Tea Review: Adagio Assam Melody

Assam Melody

Company/Brand Name: Adagio

Name: Assam Melody

Category: Black Tea

Form: Loose Leaf

Origin of the Leaf: Assam, India

The Leaves: Cut midnight black leaves with an occasional golden tip

Additions: None

Flavor:  A full-bodied and robust black tea that has a delightful earthy-maltiness

Overall: The Assam Melody makes a wonderful cup of tea suitable for daily consumption. However, it also has enough character to keep things interesting.

Tea Review:

The first thing I notice about this particular brand of Assam is that it reminded me of my coffee drinking days. The combination of earthiness and maltiness come together brilliantly, providing a well-rounded and strong-tasting cup of tea.

What also made this tea quite interesting is that I was able to get two really good infusions from it.

The first infusion tended to have a smooth, full-bodied flavor that leaned more towards malty than biscuity.

I found that the second infusion had a bit more astringency, which was rather energizing. In fact, it gave the tea a little oomph, making it stand-out slightly from the first cup.

When sipping my brew, I find myself thinking of a lush rainforest. There is something about this tea that tastes a bit lavish, yet untamed. It’s as if I have hiked miles into the depths of the jungle to pour myself a proper cup of tea using a dainty teacup with saucer.

This juxtaposition of exotic lushness and refinement keeps me quite entertained to the very last drop. At which point, I find myself wanting more.

Adagio Sample Packaging

Packaging:

I purchased the sample size of this tea. My order came in a good-sized, foil-lined bag. The name of the tea as well as brewing instructions where provided on the re-sealable pouch.

Preparation Tips:

I followed the instructions on the Adagio bag: 1 teaspoon per cup for 3-5 minutes at 212F.

For my first brewing attempt, I used a stainless steel, mesh ball infuser. This worked fine because the leaves really didn’t need much room to expand since they were cut rather small.

However, I found that when doing more than one infusion, I preferred using my one-serving, glass teapot.

I actually discovered that by using this particular infusion tool the flavor of the tea was enhanced. Perhaps, because it gave the leaves more room to expand.

Additional Notes:

Infusions – As I mentioned above, I was able to get two good infusions from the Assam Melody. Here’s how I did it: I steeped the leaves for about 2 to 3 minutes for the first infusion. For the second infusion, I gave the leaves a nice long steep of about five minutes.

I Want This Tea!

If you’d like to purchase this tea, just click the link below. Enjoy!

Adagio

Vendor Provided Sample: No

Affiliate Links: No

Photo Credit: A Girl With Tea

This is “a girl with tea” signing off once again.

Remember to live, laugh, love and drink plenty of tea.

 

Black Tea Review: Adagio Golden Monkey

Golden Monkey

Company/Brand Name: Adagio

Name: Golden Monkey

Category: Black Tea

Form: Loose Leaf

Origin of the Leaf: Fujian Province, China

The Leaves: Unique looking leaves that are long and slightly twisted with golden tips. The smell of the dry leaf reminds me a bit of chocolate biscuits

Additions: None

Flavor: A smooth, medium-bodied tea with a fruity, earthy and biscuity taste. Topping it all off is a touch of sweetness.

Overall: I found that the Golden Monkey had wonderful character and plenty of depth to keep my full interest. I tend to like my black teas with a bit more body; this one seemed to be on the lighter side. Nonetheless, it makes an enjoyable cup of tea that I am considering keeping on hand long-term.

Tea Review:

I have come across many tea enthusiasts who are quite smitten with Golden Monkey, so I’ve been looking forward to trying some of this tea for a while now.

My first cup did not disappoint.

In fact, I was fascinated by each delightful sip. It was as if each mouthful had something else to reveal.

The top note for me was a stone fruit taste, which had just a hint of sweetness.

Right beneath the fruitiness is an earthiness. I’m not talking about dirt here; the taste is as if nature herself has been captured in the essence of the tea.

To bring it all together is a rather biscuity flavor, which I’ve discovered to be regularly referred to as malty by other tea lovers. But, I prefer to call it biscuity, because that is what the taste reminds me of—biscuits raising in a warm kitchen.

As the tea cools, it becomes slightly creamy. Upon reaching the bottom of my cup, I find that I desperately want more.

I stare momentarily at the empty vessel and see that a single drop of tea is still to be had, and that final taste discloses one last treasure, an ever so slight touch of chocolate.

Because of the rich-earthiness this tea provides, each sip transports me to an awe-inspiring underground cavern filled with lush green foliage, striking blossoms and exotic wildlife, much like the Genesis cave in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

Adagio Sample Packaging

Packaging:

I had ordered a sample size, which came in a foil-lined pouch. Steeping instructions and the name of the tea where written on the re-sealable bag.

Preparation Tips:

I followed the instructions on the Adagio bag: 1 heaping teaspoon per cup for 3-5 minutes at 212F.

First, I attempted to use a stainless steel, mesh ball infuser, but it didn’t really allow enough room for the tea leaves to fully expand. I much preferred using my one-serving glass teapot, which worked perfectly, especially for the multiple infusions.

Additional Notes:

Infusions – I was able to steep three good cups of tea from 1 teaspoon of Golden Monkey.

I steeped the leaves for about two minutes for the first infusion. Then, for the second infusion, I steeped them for about three more minutes. For the final infusion, I gave the leaves a nice long steep of about five minutes.

I Want This Tea!

If you’d like to purchase this tea, just click the link below. Enjoy!

Adagio

Vendor Provided Sample: No

Affiliate Links: No

Photo Credit: A Girl With Tea

This is “a girl with tea” signing off once again.

Remember to live, laugh, love and drink plenty of tea.