Tea and Mexico

July 27, 2009

I just returned from my most recent vacation to Isla Mujeres, Mexico. It’s a small island about 30 minutes by boat out from the Cancun area. Tea was actually not a big part of this journey since the weather was about the same as climbing into your oven on the plate warming setting. Caipirinhas were more my speed. Unexpectedly though I found two great tea-related drinks while I was there: Crystal Te and Nestea Limon.

Crystal was the prevalent bottled water on the island and was very good, along the lines of Aquafina in taste. They made a mineral water which was also very good and many of the small shops carried Crystal Te and Crystal Te Limon (lime).  It might have been the delirious heat and zero breeze but it tasted great! Not overly sweet and all natural. A great black tea base with just enough lime in a perfect balance, if only American iced teas could get this right.

Nestea Limon (lime) was the local favorite and came in black and green tea versions. I stuck to the pre-bottled versions but they also sell a can of the powdered mix. The flavor was much different than the similar non-lime flavored American counterpart, again less sweet and with a nice balance of flavor. The green tea version was good but not as good as the regular black tea.

The best find of all, though, had nothing to do with tea but was called “New Mix”. El Jimador Tequila and Squirt pre-mixed in a can! No insipid malt beverage mix like in the U.S. but the real deal tequila and the actual Squirt soda in perfect harmony. Without a doubt the highlight beverage find and I think a 6-pack cost about $4 if that.


Thai Iced Tea – C.T.F. Brand

June 1, 2009

Thai food is one of the most underrated cuisines and one of my personal favorites, happily that seems to be changing and it starting to make in-roads into many American cities. Thai iced tea is actually something I rarely order when out but on a recent trip to a great new Thai restaurant near Pittsburgh (Nicky’s Thai Kitchen) my father had decided to try some. He was hooked, and knew his tea-swilling son would be able to find him some.

I went with C.T.F brand Thai tea which consists of very small bits of leaf, yellow #5 coloring!, and anise seed… why tea would need any colorant is beyond me, but it was the best of the options available. I brewed some up for myself to check it out, and while it still isn’t exactly my thing, it is nicely refreshing as just a plain (no sugar or half and half) iced tea. It has a kind of woody aroma and taste with a hint of the anise subtly tossed in. Nothing complex or outstanding but no glaring issues either outside of adding color to a drink that by definition is already, naturally, perfectly colored. I seriously don’t get that. He was happy to be able to enjoy this treat on his own, and throughout the summer I’m sure I’ll get use out of my bag too. I’m looking forward to using it in some cooking and maybe a homemade BBQ sauce, and also for some bubble tea. At about $4 for a pound of tea it is a great value too for what it is.

Thai Iced Tea

Thai Iced Tea

Por Kwan brand Thai Ice Tea Mix – 16 oz