Tea Spoon

February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine’s Day and Chinese New Year

This is a special weekend – it is the birthday of Teaspoon – and Valentine’s Day too, the birthday of Okakura Kakuzo, author of The Book of Tea, and this year, it is Chinese New Year. In celebration, here are a few favorites that we have exchanged with each other – but really, they are all favorites to me ; ) Thank you Elina!

Croco Rooibos
Punainen Bambu
Spicy Rooibos
Lucid Dream
Sweet Rose Tulsi

Pictured here is Wei Chi Cha from Samovar Tea Lounge – which is one of the few teas I am able to refill that Elina has sent me, as it is available in the U.S. from San Francisco. In a word, it is mercurial, with a super boost of energy that has a calm underlying feeling to it. The ingredients are organic orange peel, organic, fair trade hibiscus, organic lemongrass, organic licorice root, organic clove, organic lavender and organic stevia (sweetleaf) from the U.S. Steeping times depend on how deep you like the flavors, and the same with the water temperature. I prefer this one steeped for 4 minutes and to drink at room temperature. I have refilled my order and recommend other blends by Samovar, including Nocturnal Bliss which is really beautiful when swirled with a spoonful of cherries at the bottom of the cup and Ocean of Wisdom, a chai rooibos tea, “custom blended for His Holiness The Dalai Lama.” The ingredients are Rooibos and Honey Bush from South Africa blended with Ginger, Clove, Cinnamon, and Licorice from United States. It is very smooth and mindful:

“When you contemplate the big, full sunrise, the more mindful and concentrated you are, the more the beauty of the sunrise is revealed to you. Suppose you are offered a cup of tea, very fragrant, very good tea. If your mind is distracted, you cannot really enjoy the tea. You have to be mindful of the tea, you have to be concentrated on it, so the tea can reveal its fragrance and wonder to you. That is why mindfulness and concentration are such sources of happiness. That’s why a good practitioner knows how to create a moment of joy, a feeling of happiness, at any time of the day.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

August 20, 2009

Dragonfly Tea – Organic Rooibos and Organic Cape Malay Rooibos Chai

Organic Cape Malay Rooibos Chai - Dragonfly

Elina sent me a beautiful surprise assortment of bagged teas – for tea on the go when at work, on errands or even for an outdoor hike. These are really fabulous and have a smooth taste too. The organic ingredients make such a difference to me in taste. It is not easy to find purely organic teas, and in a variety of flavours.

The two flavours Elina sent me to try by Dragonfly Tea in the UK are Organic Cape Rooibos Tea, which is a pure Rooibos, low tannin and caffeine free. The other is called Organic Cape Malay Rooibos Chai. The ingredients are organically grown Rooibos tea, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, chicory, cloves, black pepper and citrus peel. Steep time is only 2-3 minutes, though I generally do 4-5 for any Rooibos leaves. Both of these teas are pleasing to the senses and I will look for them in my area; they can also be ordered online. I highly recommend Dragonfly – the company is fair trade and offers a rather large selection of appealing choices. Elina has a unique talent for finding new things, which I admire of her.

It is interesting to note that Cape Malay Rooibos Chai has a similar taste to the Spicy Rooibos tea by Indiska that I liked so much (though it is missing the sweetness from the licorice) and the Auyrveda Knockout Tea by théhuone that has chicory – but is more convenient to steep. Some people really like loose teas, and some will only use tea bags. If you are looking for a quality tea bag to try, this is a great one that may be similar to having loose tea – because the ingredients are organic and wonderful.

My rating: ****

May 31, 2009

Spicy Rooibos – Indiska

Spicy Rooibos

This is a thoughtful tea Elina sent me last week from a shop in Helsinki called Indiska that I am really loving. It came in a dazzling red cellophane bag, decorated with an intricate paisley mendhi design filled in with hearts that reminded me of some drawings I made, some of Elina’s drawings she sent me and of Batik artistry too.

When I opened the bag, all of these exotic scents came about that made me think of India and Africa, all mixed in together and our connections to these places. Here is a remarkable passage in between mentions of bush tea that comes to mind from Tears of the Giraffe, the Alexander McCall Smith series Elina started me on in the New Year:

“We are all children of Africa, and none of us is better or more important than the other. This is what Africa could say to the world: it could remind us what it is to be human.”

And for me, this tea has done just that, reminding me of my humanness and all of the wonderful people in my life, how every breath we take is truly a gift. With every sip, gratitude filled my heart. THANK YOU ELINA!!

Ingredients: rooibos, fennel, anise, cinnamon, ginger, clove, and black pepper.

My rating *****

April 7, 2009

Pecan Pie – SereneTeaz

Filed under: Index,Tea Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , — elina @ 1:19 pm

Pecan Pie

I got this lovely tea from Janine. When I opened the tea bag, I could smell the mixture of caramel and Rooibos and it immediately brought the water in my mouth. The tea tastes like caramel and pie, and I’d say it is the best of all the caramel flawored Rooibos teas I have tasted. Nordqvist’s caramel flavored tea bags are quite nice too, though. This tea definitely benefits of something creamy to drink it with. I have tried low fat milk, whole milk, and ice cream with this. The ice cream was an absolutely lovely treat. With milk, the more fat you dare to use, the better, I’d say .. well maybe not butter .. : ) I tried it out with honey as well, that was not such a good idea. The honey tasted so strong that it stole the flavors away from the tea.

my rating: * * * * , Yum!!

March 10, 2009

Croco Rooibos – Nordqvist

Croco RooibosThis is a delightful, fruity Rooibos blend Elina sent me a few months ago by Nordqvist that includes elderberries and cranberries. The aroma is just lovely, like the soft perfume of a spring garden.  The colouring is a rich amber with a light reddish glow.  The flavour of the elderberries is unique, like drinking the sweetest flowers nestled in between the Rooibos leaves that taste of honey and remind me of a springtime walk in the Finnish forest.

Elderberries are part of the Honeysuckle family and are commonly found in the northern hemisphere and parts of Australia and South America.  The flowers bloom in late spring, and produce clusters of black, blue and red berries, and on occasion, yellow and white berries in Australia.  

I prefer this tea hot for I also enjoy the smell of the cranberries when steeping.  This tea has a delicate sweet taste that becomes smoother as it cools to room temperature.  As I am drinking it now, the honeysuckle flavour comes about first, with a slight tartness from the cranberries that pull the honey back to the front of the palate.  To me, this is another special five star blend and possibly my favourite from Suomi.  It is graceful.

March 5, 2009

Slim Mint – SereneTeaz

Filed under: Index,Tea Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , — elina @ 8:04 pm

Slim MintI got this lovely tea from Janine. It took me sometime to get really great friends with the taste, but now I’m absolutely loving it. I think it is because you need to be really careful with the brewing time with this one. I have sometimes quite a bad memory (also with my tea kettle : ( ) so I often leave my teas to brew for too long. This one should not be brewed for too long (the instructions say 4-5 minutes), otherwise the taste will not be so good.

When you open the bag, the smell is amazing – just like After Eights. I can smell it even now when I have a flu and I don’t feel like eating because I can’t taste or smell properly. When you drink the tea hot the taste is great: you can really taste the mint, and it mixes nicely with the black tea and Rooibos. I enjoy this one the best hot with milk and honey.

Ingredients: Chocolate bits, vanilla, Rooibos, mint, black tea
Brand: SereneTeaz
My ranking: * * * *

February 28, 2009

Strawberry Cream Rooibos – Robert’s Coffee

Strawberry Cream RooibosReview (1-5): Hot 5, Cold 4
Brand: Robert’s Coffee
Type: Rooibos

Over the holidays, Elina sent me a bag of Strawberry Cream Rooibos from Robert’s Coffee in Helsinki. I wrote her that it tasted like “the stuff that dreams are made of.” It is smooth and mellow, infused with pieces of hand-picked strawberries, topped off with a spot of cream. The colouring is a deep reddish brown near the center, surrounded by a light amber glow around the edges when steeped in a cast iron teapot for 4 minutes. I highly recommend this Rooibos tea. Not only is it a five star blend in my opinion, but worthy of its own constellation, in every season! Wonderfully warming and delightful, whether reading, writing or dreaming.

It is also worth noting that strawberries are a heart-shaped, heart-healthy, juicy red fruit, that provide an amazing source of antioxidants and are naturally rich in vitamin C. The combination of strawberry pieces and Rooibos leaves make this a super healthy treat for tea drinkers of all ages, and in the wintertime, is a great reminder that spring is on the way!

Strawberry Trivia:

‘O marvel, fruit of fruits, I pause’

My Strawberry
Helen Hunt Jackson

‘A pot of Strawberries gathered in the wood
To mingle with your cream.’

Ben Johnson as quoted in A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieve

A flower for S!
Is Sunflower he?
He’s handsome, yes,
But what of me?-

In my party suit
Of red and white,
And a gift of fruit
For the feast tonight:

Strawberries small
And wild and sweet,
For the Queen and all
Of her Court to eat!

The Song of the Strawberry Fairy
Cicely Mary Barker

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