Bold and traditional

Bold and traditional

Been a while since I did a tea post. Recently, I’ve been enjoying Traditional Afternoon Tea. Great fresh, bold taste, with a deep brown colour and goes well with a sweet pastry. Zing Rating 4 out of 5. 

Festivit-teas

teacup I have thoroughly enjoyed the Christmas season this year, despite a little sadness from being away from my immediate family. However, my boyfriend’s family has been more than welcoming so I have immensely enjoyed the new Christmas memories (and cooler weather!). I’m blessed indeed.

It’s been a while since I did a tea post and I’m well over due for one. One of my many wonderful gifts was a new pretty tea cup. Its very japanese inspired with big blooms of camellias (I think), and lots of Blue and gold markings. Its really beautiful. I’ve nicknamed it Dandy. because, well, its a dandy. hehe

I was itching to try it out and decided to use one of my new teas, another gift. English Strawberry and Cream is a black large leaf tea, from Jeffersons Tea in Hobart, Tasmania. When you open the packet there is a delightful strawberry and cream scent. Reminds me of those strawberry and cream lollies you could get when I was a kid. The leaf tea (I adore leaf tea!) features a natural strawberry and cream flavour with delightful little strawberry chunks. It gives the tea nice berry over tones. And the colour is not the usual caramel colour, but a nice reddish strawberry coloured beverage. I added just the smallest amount of sweetener and this gave it a slight nostalgic sweetness (those lollies again), perfect for the flavouring. And of course no tea is complete without some festive shortbread to

tea

accompany it.

I’m giving English Strawberry and Cream a 4 Star zing rating.

4 star zing rating

Posted in Tea

Prince of Wales for tea.

Not the real one. But one of the new flavours in my mini tea marathon. It was very lightly flavoured. Not really my thing.  I’d probably rate it 2 out of 5. 

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I made some Apple and Cinnamon Pancakes to go with it. The pancakes were of course a 5 out 5 in terms of Zing rating. 

 

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Campfire in a Cup

Lapsang Souchong Tea has a lovely mild smokiness that reminds me of summer evenings around a campfire. It doesn’t have robustness that other teas have, but it does have a smooth light aftertaste. I also think it goes well with Pasta. 🙂 I’d give it 3.5 stars out of 5.

When is a tea cup not a tea cup..

So, I did some tea cup collecting on the weekend. Sorry, about the dodgy images. 😦

I know, people are like why do you want so much clutter in your house? 🙂 But I would love to have a small collection of pretty tea cups for special occasions, or even just for special people, hence my collection has begun. I did find some interesting things- happens when you go to an Op shop I guess.

Score number 1: A tea cup with a filter insert! I have seen these used before and really wanted one. So I was overjoyed when I found one of my own. Usually it has a small lid that goes on the top to aid in the brewing process. Mine doesn’t have one and I suspect it is because it got broken one time. But I don’t really mind. So itching to try it out, I got out my leaf tea- green tea- and had a go. It was great! nothing beats fresh brewed tea. And its so easy to clean because its all ceramic. Just pull out the filter, tip out the tea leaves and wash as normal. That makes for a happy me!!

Score number 2: A little Japanese tea set.

I have long held a fascination for asian tea ceremonies, since I attended a wedding when I was young where the groom married a lovely asian lady and their wedding incorporated a tea ceremony. It really inspired me to research the tea ceremonies- they have such a fascinating history!

So anyway here’s my lovely little kit. I picked it off the shelf and the lid fell off and broke on the floor. I felt so bad I immediately took it to the counter and explained what happened. The woman barely lifted an eyebrow,  simply stating that they couldn’t sell it to me like that so she’d give it to me for 1/2 price. I hated the thought of them doing that, so I said I’d pay full price since I broke it. But she took $1.00 off anyway.  I’m excited to use it, and I can’t wait to create a Japanese woodland garden where I can sit and sip green tea out of the tiny cups. 🙂 Maybe I’ll bring my nieces and nephew with me and we can have a little tea party.

Score number 3: A silver spoon! I absolutely love silver spoons. I’m not sure why, perhaps its the elegance I associate with them. Anyway, at a different place I was looking through some of the thrifted goods at the back of the group of markets, I was actually on the hunt for some pretty beads for some jewelry projects. I found numerous silver spoons in amongst the old cutlery. I was a little astounded that they didn’t realise they were silver. So anyway, I got this cute little silver tea spoon. I spent ages studying the engraved pattern on it. I might see if I can find anything about the pattern and whether it has any significance.

Finally, I found some plain tea cups and saucers at the Op shop. These are for a future craft project. But when I was searching through them all I started to ask the question ‘When is a tea cup not a tea cup?’

What exactly makes something a tea cup, compared to a coffee mug?

So here’s what I’m thinking. There are two elements to the make up of a tea cup in my opinion.

The first thing is the curve of the handle. This is an essential part of the anatomy of a tea cup. If it looks like half a heart, it’s probably a tea cup. If it looks like an oval or a circle its a coffee mug. 🙂

The other element, which in my opinion defines a tea cup is its curves. 🙂  It should have a fluted top for ease of sipping, and an S-shaped curved body, to hold all that tea goodness.

I understand this doesn’t exactly hold up when you consider asian tea cups, but if you are ever faced with trying to buy a proper tea cup compared to a coffee mug, there’s some tips. 🙂

The Ultimate Tea App

It’s amazing what you find when you’re growing the App store. Here’s a handy Tea app for all of us tea connoisseurs out there who happen to own an iPhone (I don’t!). Tea. That’s the name of the app. Easy to remember and to search. Tea is a very handy little app that allows you to keep an inventory, make tasting notes about your favourite teas, check your brew settings, it even has a timer! And you can share and share-alike with Facebook friends, twitter and other social media sites, all at the click of a button.  For all the tea geeks out there its a very fun and functional app, clearly made by Tea geeks for tea geeks. It’s available in the app store for only $1.99. Clearly, a small price to pay for the usefulness of this little app. enjoy!

For those coffee lovers, like me there are apps out there. But I wasn’t really impressed enough to mention any. If you know of any, or even if you find any other handy Tea apps out there, post a comment. I’d love to find more!

I love coming home to a smooth Italian

Italian Almond= 4/5 Zing rating

And that’s what it was like today. Coming home to a new flavour of tea. Italian Almond. It has a very subtle almond flavour, that goes nicely with chocolate. The fact that I’ve had 3 cups of this tea shows how much I enjoyed the smooth flavour. There was no Zing particularly, but I’d give it 4 stars as the almondy taste really makes it irresistible. Or maybe it was just the Italian that was irresistible. Either way, win win. 🙂

Thai Chi

That is basically a tongue twister of Chai Tea. And at the moment its my favourite tea for creative pursuits and chilly evenings sitting on the verandah. Initially, I was a Chai Tea sceptic. My first few cups really weren’t that exciting. I remember tasting it with friends and not really being that impressed it was too…cinnamony….or something. Of course you really have to have a taste for it. And be someone who loves two tablespoons of cinnamon in your tea. No wonder people would sweeten it with sugar.

Anyway, I guess I was a Chai Tea cynic. Until now.

I have had an Chai Tea epiphany. In an orange box.

And it’s easy to see why Pukka Vanilla Chai is the Taste gold medal winner of 2010. Pukka as an organisation is known for its organic herbs and its proud Fairtrade stance. You’ll even see the fair-trade logo on its box.

I have had many a chai tea cup. Pukka Vanilla Chai though has a very smooth warming taste, with a zingy bite of ginger, cinnamon and fennel, just to keep you wanting more. Sweetening it gives it even more smoothness and it makes for a very satisfying and warming cuppa on a chilly day. Even better with a dessert like cheese cake or berry tart for a lovely afternoon tea. I’ll certainly be checking out more of the Pukka range in future. Pukka Vanilla Chai has a 5 star zing rating. 🙂

Vanilla Chai= 5/5 Zing rating

Tea cups and pretty saucers

When I was young we visited my grandmother every weekend. I loved it. And I loved how after dessert the family would put on the kettle and make a cup of tea as though no meal was complete without a cuppa, frequently it was served with a biscuit or sweet treat.

I remember my mum having a nifty tea dispenser from the 60s or 70s that allowed you to push the red button and a portion of leaf tea would be dispensed into your cup. I loved it, or rather I loved playing with it. I saw lots of these at an antique store a little while ago, they came in all sizes and comic interpretations- one of the you pushed in the moustache of the chef and the tea came out. Why do they have such tempting and touchable things at antique stores?

My family was from farming origins, several generations of them. But even though, things like fancy dresses and new shoes were a luxury they still had some amazing things. And one of them was tea cups and those popular country canisters- you know those cream coloured ones with TEA, COFFEE, FLOUR, SUGAR etc written on them. I was recently given a set of these that belonged to my grandmother. Inside the tea canister I found original leaf tea and the old chipped tea cup she used to scoop it out. It was left exactly as she’d had it on the farm. I was stoked. but also disposed of the tea. I love anything old, but this tea cup was special because of the sentimentality behind it. And it was quite beautiful in its own way, no colours or markings, but a small chain pattern around the top and a sculpted body and handle. Why do people get so sentimental about tea cups but not as sentimental about coffee mugs?

It reminded me of when I was little. I always loved tea cups. Coffee mugs were fine, but there was something about beautiful tea cups that made me think of tea parties and pretty dresses and the glamour of putting on play jewellery and ‘going to tea’ with my sisters. I’m not sure what it was, but for some reason I always associated drinking tea with elegance and flowers and fancy deserts and beauty. So I always thought that tea cups were one way you could have class and refinement. I used to admire beautiful tea cups in home stores, floral ones, gold rimmed ones, filigree ones, japanese inspired ones, ornately sculpted ones and the saucers that went with them all. I used to imagine the women and men from yesteryear gathered around a table in the fine clothing, feathered hats, high cravats, table laden with biscuits and slices, sipping tea and sharing with each other. For me, tea deserved to be served in beautiful cups on equally beautiful saucers and a with a lovely silver spoon to stir it.

I decided that when I was old enough I would serve my own tea in beautiful cups with saucers and silver spoons. Unfortunately, practicality won out when I did get my own place.

But I have a beautiful cup and a little silver spoon (with sentimental value) that I use occasionally if I want to feel refined and cultured.

So anyway, back to actually drinking tea. I came across an awesome idea for mother’s day- which I’ll tell you about in another blog post, but it involves leaf tea. So since I didn’t have leaf tea and needed some I went to the shop. Its overwhelming sometimes to be in the Tea and Coffee aisle. I sometimes find myself wishing I knew which teas tasted the nicest because then I could just save some time by grabbing what I need and going on my way. but still being a tea newbie I have no idea what some of these teas taste like. So aside from buying some leaf tea, I also noticed a new flavour that made me laugh. Peppermint and English Toffee.  For some reason I thought of fair grounds and lollipops. I guess you could drink it at the fair while sucking on a lollipop, who knows.

So anyway, back to tea. The scent was lovely, very sweet and minty. And the flavour had a hint of toffee smoothness in it.  Adding sweetener really enhances the flavour and it goes really well with some sweet biscuits. Oh, and even after adding milk it had a decidedly toffee colour to it. The mint adds a bit of zing to your mouthful.

So I’d give it a zing rating of 3.5 out of 5. Nice smooth fun-filled cup for an afternoon with friends and family.

Peppermint & English Toffee= 3.5/5 zing rating