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

November 9, 2009

Chai Red – Yumchaa

Chai Red - Yumchaa

Chai Red is an exceptional chai rooibos blend Elina shared with me from her trip to the Yumchaa shop in London. It has a sweet, full-bodied, fruity taste that is unlike any of the other chai blends we have tried.

I highly recommend it and would get more of it if I could. The sweetness may come from the cinnamon pieces or from the aniseed. It’s truly remarkable and almost has a flowery scent in the background, though there are no flowers among the listed ingredients.

I prefer this blend warm, though it could also work well chilled.

Thank you Elina . . . who may have more comments to add, as it is another favorite of hers from Yumchaa.

My rating *****

October 25, 2009

palaisgourmet

Ahh… a trip to Los Angeles, the city of movie stars and exotic tastes. This was going to be fun. I had the weekend away from everyone and planned to hit the beach. But alas – the Internet tracks you down always. Elina had just heard that there was some great tea places in LA, and I needed to go check them out. Ok – so of I was in the rented SUV, Nissan Rogue (amazing that it was called a regular car) – on with the GPS system, and off I go. It was a place called Le Palais Gourmet and I was asked to get a tea called The des Esprits Rouge. Ok – not that great with with French, but off I went. Ended up the place was in Beverly Hills, a couple of blocks from Rodeo Drive. Hmm – this will be good. After some parking and scrounging for some quarters for the meter, I walked over to the shop. It was a nice clean shop, with specials on tea pots, and beautiful cans of tea lining up the walls. They had some Martinique Green brewing which was providing great aroma in the air. After some introductions (yes – I am from Finland, yes – I am Australian, yes – we do write for a tea blogs so please let me take some photos), I sampled some of the tea. Interestingly, the tea that Elina wanted was not available, as the shop had stopped licensing the name Le Palais Gourmet and the teas accordingly. Hmmm — this was a bit strange as the labels were all over the place, but nevertheless, they sold tea, and were in a celebrity location — so something must be good. Now, back to the tea, I grabbed a Lemoncello tea, and also the one that was brewing. Job done, two bags in hand, it was now time to go to my other infatuation – Ed Hardy at the Beverly Center – but alas – that is another blog!

posted by Mark

September 1, 2009

Tasting blueberry Rooibos teas – Teavana and Rishi Tea

Filed under: Index,Tea Reviews — Tags: , , — elina @ 6:58 pm

Organic Blueberry Rooibos - Rishi TeaTonight I brew two kinds of Blueberry Rooibos tea. Janine had sent me earlier a bag of Teavana blueberry Rooibos and for my birthday I got some great tea samples from her (thank you!!:), including the Rishi Tea Blueberry Rooibos. I wanted to compare the Rishi and Teavana Blueberry Rooibos but the end result was that I could not decide which one I liked more. The Teavana version was definitely more fruity and the blueberry taste was strong. In the Rishi Tea the blueberry taste was more in the background. I liked the Teavana tea maybe slightly better when I tried the teas without milk, but with milk I preferred the Rishi Tea. Both teas were great and they deserve full five stars!  * * * * *

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: ****

June 29, 2009

The best souvenir you can get — some tea! : )

Yumchaa teas

Last weekend I had a great tea weekend at our summer house. Not only I took some Rooibos tea with me that Janine made herself for me (yum yum!!), but also my husband, who came back home from London, brought me a bag of Yumchaa teas as a souvenir! So we were having a lot of different teas both cold and hot as it was a hot summer weekend with a lot of woodwork : ). The green teas were great cold with just a pinch of sugar added to them and some lemon pieces for decoration. All of these Yumchaa teas have been lovely and I have asked Mark to review at least one tea for our blog. The Caramel Sweetheart tea was quite similar taste as the Pecan Pie Rooibos that Janine sent me earlier, but this one is a black tea.. So .. waiting for some more comments from Mark : )

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: * * * *

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