ExperimenTea-ing

I have revved up my tea and herbal infusion intake over the past year. Here is a sampling of types I tried.

tea 1

Celestial Seasonings Herbal Infusions

tea 3

Organic

IMG_2462

Potpourri

For Christmas I received this super Cordless Programmable Kettle by Cuisinart. This appliance has kicked my tea consumption into high gear.

Cuisinart tea pot

  • Six pre-set temperatures
  • 30-minute keep warm option
  • Memory-holds settings when removed from a swivel base

teapot 2

The readings are in Fahrenheit, heating your water for tea to the perfect temperature:

160 = Delicate tea

175 = Green tea

185 = White tea

190 = Oolong tea

200 = French Press

Boil = Black tea

This tea bag squeezer helps get every last bit of your steeped tea or herbs from the tea bag.

tea bag squeezer

I purchased this “squeezer” at the Celestial Seasonings Tea Shop. Great, inexpensive buy.

tea bag squeezer 2

Bagged teas are readily available almost everywhere with many brands and flavors to pick from. Because of the popularity, the tea aisle at my grocery store is completely separate from the coffee aisle. I used to pick the same teas and herbal infusions every time I went. It was easy and didn’t take much thought. Now I spend a lot of time there perusing the brands.

I have discovered that I like certain brands. I’m preferential to Celestial Seasonings. I think their Master Tea taster has excellent taste buds. I also like Stash, Bigelow and Twinings brands. I continue to check out different brands.  I am now drinking Organic Zhena’s Gypsy Tea Coconut Chai black tea. It has a lovely flavor with steamed milk.

Every morning I have one cup of black tea steeped in hot water and almond milk and one cup of green tea with lemon. I split one Stevia sweetener packet between the cups. I never used to drink green tea because it tasted bitter, adding the lemon juice helped.

Midday, I have a cup of decaffeinated Earl Grey with almond milk. After dinner I have an herbal infusion that is calming or will help me sleep. I’m drinking about 4-5 cups per day!

Patty’s Points:

1. I have so much to learn. I have barely scratched the surface of tea. There are a growing number of tea blogs out there in WordPress-Land.  People are cuddling with tea cups and tea pots, writing poetry about tea, steeping leaves of all kinds in hot water, and hanging out in tea houses.

2. So far I haven’t much cared for the taste of roobios, it tastes like licorice. I’ll have to give it another try someday. I’ve tried oolong tea once and thought it was good.

3. I love my hot water kettle and the temperature settings. It was a pricey little kettle, but I got it discounted at a department store. There are lesser priced kettles out there for around $20.00 or more; but they have only one temperature = boil.

4. Tension Tamer by Celestial Seasonings has catnip in it. Yes, catnip tea.  It helps with headaches and is detoxifying. My husband drank it and felt sleepy immediately.

5. I follow a blog called Scrubs Nurse.  She has a recent posting on the health benefits of tea that is worth reading.

6. Tea is becoming more popular in the U.S.  You know tea is becoming mainstream when you see more varieties than Lipton at a truck stop next to the coffee. Tea has been around for thousands of years and is universal. I guess us Yankees are just catching on.

Right now I have 17 boxes of tea in my cupboards. My husband wonders why I need that many and continue to bring new varieties home. I like choices.

Loose tea and tea pots are my next adventure. In the meantime, happy sipping and tasting!

tea at Brown Palace

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Tea is Hot

teacup

The January issue of Bon Appetite cited tea as one of the top 25 food trends for 2013. How cool is that?  If you watch Downton Abbey, you know that sitting down to tea is part of life for the residents upstairs and downstairs. A refined drink for all social classes.

Several Fearless Cooking Club (FCC) members have been on some tea adventures the past few months.We started out with a day trip to Boulder at Celestial Seasonings.

Sleepytime tea bears

We donned our hair nets and went through the production rooms for the free tour.  We learned about black, green and white teas and many herbs and spices that are hand-picked from all over the world. They have a chief taster who has been in the job since the start of the company.

The Mint Room is quite the experience. Our tour guide directed us in and closed the door. Sinuses opened immediately, eyes watered, slight throat burn. You can mark your survival with a postcard or cup in the gift shop.

I survived the mint room

Following our tea tasting and scooping up great deals from the gift shop, we headed to downtown Boulder for lunch at the Dushanbe Tea House. The house is a gift to Boulder from the country of Tajikistan. Dushanbe is the capital and Sister City to Boulder. We had a lovely lunch along with three different pots of loose tea.

Dushanbe Tea House

Tree of Life panel by ceramic artist Victor Zabolotnikov.
outer panel

Then I hosted a pajama tea party on the Season 3 Finale of Downton Abbey. It was a tea potluck as we munched on scones, breads and desserts to enjoy with our tea. Don’t you just love the tiara?

Slumber Tea Party

The last adventure was high tea at the Brown Palace Hotel. My daughter and her three girlfriends came home for Spring Break. They got gussied up in hats, pashminas and furs to fully enjoy a proper English tea.

Spring Break Quartet

The scones, sandwiches and desserts were sumptuous.

plates of sandwiches

Tea makes one feel civilized and refined. Oh, to take a break and enjoy the moment.

Patty’s Points of learning on the Tea Tasting Trail:

1. The origin of tea dates back to 2737 BC by Shen Nung Emperor of China. A leaf fell into a cup and it brought a pleasing and therapeutic flavor to water.

2. Sleepy Time tea is Celestial Seasonings most popular tea and it really isn’t tea. It’s an herbal infusion. That is also why it is caffeine-free.

3. Many pieces of the Dushanbe Tea House were assembled in Tajikistan and shipped to the US; the Teahouse was built by hand.

4.  According to Afternoon Tea the drinking of tea not only became a social event for the upper classes, it altered the time and manner in which they took tea. Afternoon Tea became the bridge between meals because many wouldn’t eat their evening meal until maybe 8pm. As such, Afternoon Tea became a ‘mini meal’ in itself. High tea is taken at a table; afternoon tea is taken at a low comfortable chair or sofa. The upper classes developed their own variation of high tea as a meal that could be eaten when their servants were away or not available, as it was so easy to prepare.

I will be posting again on tea….I am still sipping and sampling.

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