April 25, 2008
Since my tea drinking has still steadily revolved around my current rut (BLC, Shui Xian, and Huo Shan Huang Ya) my recent posts have only been able to be about strange or odd offshoots, today’s is no different unfortunately. However, with new spring greens popping up it all may change soon.
Last night I was presented with a two-liter bottle of Seagram’s brand green tea ginger ale with antioxidants. My love for tea lands me all kinds of tea-related oddities from well-intentioned friends and family. It apparently contains 200mg of antioxidants per serving, if you are into that sort of thing. The ingredient list is sadly not all natural and there are a number of preservatives and unpronounceable additions that I can’t recall without the label here to refer to… it’s probably best that way. But at least the green tea was naturally added.
It was unusually fizzy and pouring it gingerly (oof :) still resulted in a mass of 4-5″ of foam to 1″ of beverage. Waiting it out, I continued to pour and wait and pour and wait. Finally I had a respectable glass. It has a very fragrant green tea smell which stands out stronger than I had expected against the ginger ale. The flavor also certainly puts the green tea ahead of any ginger taste but in a pretty good balance. The flavor is more like an unnatural green tea/lemony instant drink, though, rather than a proper green tea. Disappointing to some degree but interesting enough to try once or twice. I do have an unnatural love for Tom Tucker brand mint ginger ale, though, and this one isn’t even close competition for my flavored ginger ale needs.
April 18, 2008
A while back I was hunting for some Rooibos tea for work, and limited in options I found a little ribboned bag from Eastern Shore Tea Co. It contained 20 individually wrapped gold-foil tea bags for about $3.00. The company claims that all of their tea bags contain the same whole leaf tea they sell just broken or crushed for tea bag brewing. They sell a ton of different teas, flavored and tisanes, but the African Red Bush tea is the only one I have tried.
I have to say that it is actually a pretty high quality Rooibos and it made a great quick and easy work tea. There are no additions or flavorings, just 100% Rooibos, which is actually harder to find as it seems everyone wants to muddy it up with flavorings. It is naturally caffeine free and said to contain a high amount of anti-oxidants. Sweet, slightly nutty and woody as well as a bit of sharp tang such as citrus and never bitter no matter how long it steeps… which is great for a work tea that can be neglected or forgotten during an unexpected issue or problem. The tea bags are good for an occasional second weaker steep, but offer their full flavor in the first run.
For a cheap find during a lunch break in the city I have to say I was pleasantly surprised and I plan on giving some of their other offerings a shot at work as well. Especially now that my beloved Mlesna brand Monk’s Blend tea bags appear to be discontinued. As much as I live and die by my gaiwan at work, sometimes I need a tea bag I can dunk in hot water cooler water for a meeting or on-the-go.
April 15, 2008
This was a spur of the moment purchase mainly out of curiosity. Yerba Mate Green is an unfermented form of traditional Yerba Mate. It has an herb-like scent, slightly woody, and reminiscent of regular green tea. Not having all of the required gourds and straws, and a failed attempt to brew it in my gaiwan, makes brewing the tiny green and brown flakes tough. I finally hit on drinking it through a double-barreled coffee stirrer straw which filters out the tiny specs. The flavor is actually close to a lower-grade green Puerh. Slight astringency, a bit of a roasted taste, and slightly woody. It’s actually fairly enjoyable. It’s said to contain higher amounts of the healthy stuff which fermentation kills in normal Yerba Mate if you’re into that sort of thing, to me, it’s a beverage. For a fan of Mate it would make a nice change of pace similar to switching up between a darker/fermented tea and a fresh green tea for variety.
April 14, 2008
A chance encounter brought me two bags of Bali’s Best Tea Candy, one “Classic Iced Tea” flavor and one “Green Tea Latte.” My sweet tooth is pretty small, but hard candy is one of my weak points and if it is a naturally flavored hard candy, well, that’s pretty much the pinnacle for me.
I started off with one of the individually wrapped translucent iced tea flavored disks. The flavor captured is almost unbelievable at first, it is that perfect glass of black iced tea in candy form. Totally natural, the ingredients: Glucose Syrup (tapioca), Cane Sugar, Tea Extract, Natural Tea Flavor, Salt. No added flavors or colors, just real tea. Next, was the Green Tea Latte. I was a bit more apprehensive with this one since green tea and latte aren’t usually found in any combination in my vocabulary. I have tried the Seattle’s Best Green Tea Latte before and while I can’t say it is a favorite, the combination does work. The candy again does an admirable job of conveying the green tea (sencha/matcha-like flavor) and milk combo. Also totally natural, containing: Glucose Syrup (tapioca), Cane Sugar, Milk Powder, Tea Extract, Natural Green Tea Flavor, Salt.
Bali's Best Tea Candy
Tea candy is somewhat of a rarity, and the only thing that could top these would be a Gyokuro or Shui Xian version… which, if you’re listening Bali’s Best, would be a dream come true. I’m totally impressed and these candies completely surpassed any expectation I could have had for real, quality, intense, tea flavor.
April 7, 2008
OK, so it isn’t tea but it was in my cup and there are many folks who enjoy milk in their tea. Milk is one thing I am very serious about, and it isn’t even because I drink much of it or have any particular affinity. It is because of growth hormones, antibiotics, and poor feeding and handling. Milk is a super concentration of all of those factors and to drink anything less than ideal milk is tantamount to getting a super-dose of bovine hormones and antibiotics along with who knows what else. I am a huge supporter of rBST/RBGH Free milk and it is all I will drink, mainly in skim form.
My grandfather received a gallon of real raw milk recently and I had the chance to sample some of it. Before shaking the container the cream had naturally separated to the top which was neat to see. The scent of cow/farm was certainly present and it was a touch off-putting but also nice to actually have a totally non-processed food which is pretty rare these days. It was very thick and creamy and gave the feel of ice cream or a milkshake, it was excellent. Instantly dreams of an ultimate milkshake began dancing around my head and it doesn’t take much imagination as it would without a doubt earn the title. The second thought was how amazing it would be with tea since it actually had body and flavor of its own and not just white water as so much milk is. I didn’t get to test that theory but I have found a list of local farms which sell raw milk near me and will be making a trip to try it out.
I’d find it hard to enjoy in my cereal, and I can imagine the fat content is pretty high, among other things, but it was an experience and certainly makes you think about older, slower times and having a real connection with your food. It’s worth a shot, you can search for your state here: http://www.realmilk.com/where2.html
April 2, 2008
This one was an impulse buy from a local shop since I haven’t had any black/red tea in a while at work. It was very inexpensive at about $9.00/lb. but seemed to be of good quality and smelled great. The taste is actually very mild and fruity with a pronounced hit of citrus but not overwhelming. Thin mouth feel and a touch malty. It is a low-grown tea and while it may not be as complex as some of my usual teas it is a nice break from my rut, takes some sugar well when I get the urge, and offers enough depth to make it enjoyable. With Spring upon us, I’ll hopefully break free from my Bi Lo Chun/Shui Xian/Huo Shan Huang Ya routine and get back to some exploration.
April 2, 2008
I created a challenge, both for myself and anyone else out there, to read 52 books in 52 weeks. Sadly, reading takes a backseat to many other forms of entertainment these days and to me it is one of my greatest pleasures. I read quite a lot of books in a year covering a wide spectrum of topics and genres but I never kept count or took note. Often people will ask me if I’ve read anything good lately and due to sheer volume I’ll forget about a particular gem, so this new blog will also offer a central point to refer back to and act as an archive. If you are a reader, and even if not, I encourage everyone to set their own goal and I’ll be happy to post your successes and lists as well.
Check it out: http://read52in52.blogspot.com/