Tag Archives: Irish breakfast tea

A White Tiger Tea Moment

I admit it. I’ve been in a tea rut. For the past several months, I’ve been mindlessly boiling the water, pouring it over a very mediocre Irish Breakfast tea bag in my favorite red rooster coffee mug. Thankfully, the greater tea community staged an intervention and I received the help I so desperately needed.

On Tuesday I received a package of 3 teas from the lovely gentlemen of DAVIDsTEA. You’ll understand my tiniest twinge of apprehension when I looked inside and found 2 white tea blends and 1 green. If you’ve read my previous tea moments, you’ll remember that I abandoned my foray into white teas last year and have been largely unsuccessful in finding a green tea to write home about, but I trusted my mentor and did my best to keep an open mind.

Oh Happy Day! I started with White Tiger (the tea, not the animal), and I have to say, “I believe!”  My previous complaint about white tea is the lack of body, its overall thinness. But this white peony tea was different. 1.5 teaspoons of tea steeped for 3 minutes, and the lovely, light amber liquid awaited me.  As I was jotting down notes of the color, the clarity, the lack of dust particles, I was trying to figure out how to describe the incredible aroma – and that’s when Gene wandered by and said, “Hey! What smells like blueberry muffins?”  I couldn’t have described it better myself. 

I am White Tiger. Hear me roar!

I am White Tiger. Hear me roar!

The first sip – always my favorite – surprised me with just enough body to keep my palate interested. The blueberry and pomegranate were just noticeable enough to make me aware of their presence but without the overly sweet aftertaste that turns me off of most berry or fruity teas and infusions. And not only did it taste heavenly, it’s good for me too – antioxidants on top of antioxidants!
One cup, frankly, was not enough. I put the kettle back on, brewed an entire pot, and that kept me company throughout the morning. It even inspired me enough to go out back for a few minutes to stop and smell the roses.
Jen in full recovery. Notice she has already progressed to using a real tea cup

Jen in full recovery. Notice she has already progressed to using a real tea cup

To David and Jeremy at DAVIDsTEA, I say, “Merci beaucoup! Je l’aime bien!” I greatly anticipate tasting the 2 other blends my new mentors have sent me.  Intervention: Successful! I am on the road to tea recovery!

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Filed under Education, Tea, Tea Blending

A Minneapolis Tea Moment

I think I’m in love. And to find love in Minneapolis? Who’da thunk it? Harney & Sons Pu-Erh may have just encouraged me to end my love affair with Irish Breakfast Tea.

While in Minn for a conference, I decided that for once in my working life I would use an afternoon break for my own pleasure. I searched for afternoon tea opportunities and found a convenient offering at the Hotel Ivy. Served in the hotel lobby from 3-5 p.m. daily, I was greeted with fast, friendly (though rather flirty) service. My server surprised me with his advanced knowledge of the tea blends offered, so we were off to a good start.

When the tea arrived, it had been steeped perfectly, with the leaves removed. Hooray! (Leaving the tea leaves in the pot and having to strain each cup may feel like a fun ritual, but the taste overdevelops and can make the whole pot taste bitter).  I was a bit hesitant about the tea choice, since I am not typically a fan of smoky teas, but upon first sip, my tastebuds thought they had died and gone to tea heaven. With just a whisper of smoke, the overall flavor was robust, earthy, and satisfied my entire palate. There was an internal struggle of chugging the whole pot while it was at its peak of heat and flavor or sipping it slowly to make it last.  I sipped.

I should have let that be the entire moment, but I waited for tea goodies that had been promised. An elegant presentation of sweet and savory.

I’m sorry Hotel Ivy, but on this, I’m going to have to pull a Simon Cowell and say, “This was an utter dis-ahster.”

Killing me softly with savories at the Hotel Ivy

Killing me softly with savories at the Hotel Ivy

Presentation: fabulous. Atmosphere: great. Server: knowledgeable. Sweets: perfectly balanced amuses bouches. Savories: Aaaack! We begin with a deviled egg, nicely deviled but with too much egg. Trout eggs to be precise. Please understand, though native from Boise, I have become at peace with the California lifestyle including much indulgence in sushi. A little raw fish or caviar never hurt anyone. But trout roe on a perfectly good deviled egg is a bit much. Next. A beet coronet of herbed goat cheese. I like beets. I like herbs. I like goat cheese. A lot. I do not, however, like a lot of goat cheese, and this was entirely too much. There was not enough of the beet mini tortilla (for lack of a better description) to balance the (what seemed like) pounds of creamed goat cheese. Next. A forgettable cracker with something-or-other on it.  Next. A mini toast or cracker with a white anchovy and slivers of red pepper. Again, I like fish, I like sushi, I like Caesar salad with heavily anchovied dressing. I do not, however, like an entire anchovy wound up in a tight swirl on a cracker with no other flavors to balance to extreme fishiness of the situation. I think they need to just stick with tea.

And what a wonderful tea it was…

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Filed under Tea, Tea Room, Travel

A Tea Cupboard Moment

Doesn’t everyone have a tea cupboard?  The question occurred to me whilst reading my friend, Deanna’s, blog. She posted a photo of her tea cupboard that looked remarkably like my own, which looks remarkably like this one:


Though, this one is noticeably neater than my own…  In any case, it made me wonder how many such cupboards exist across the U.S.  Now, Britain, I can guess you will find one in every home. Here, I just don’t know. 

There is a responsibility with having a tea cupboard, however, and that is the annual task of clearing it out. I’ve learned both personally (and at the tea conferences (yes, you read that correctly) I have attended over the years) that the shelf life of tea is no more than one year, and even less if exposed to sunlight. Thus the critical importance of the tea cupboard!

So now it is that time of year when it’s time to clear out the old and stock up on the new. An exciting time, really. This year, I seem to have a backlog of white teas. An entire yellow and green box full of pyramid-shaped white-tea bags; a tin of loose white with jasmine; samples of white with apricot.  I thought I would enjoy their lightness – plus they’ve got the most anti-oxidents – but I keep coming back to my comfortable black teas. Irish Breakfast is my current standby. And what is this long forgotten Chinese brick tea? Too intimidating to break apart. A mostly full box of plain chamomile (Tazo), that’s entirely too weedy-tasting. (Weeds like in the garden, not weed as found in the cafes of Amsterdam). Some failed attempts of my own blends; some Stash double Earl Grey (there IS such a thing as too much Earl Grey- tastes like a mouth full of soap!); samples of some kind of green (too grassy) and some generic lemon tea bags used occasionally during a bout of sore throats.

I look forward to some new tea discoveries in my soon-to-be-restocked tea cupboard.  I’ll let you know what I find…

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Filed under Tea