Recent Roundup

September 22, 2009

Things have been a bit quiet here lately mainly due to a lovely sickness that latched on and left me pretty miserable for far too long. So much for all that tea = health business. With dulled taste buds and little interest in anything but getting better, tea has taken a bit of a back seat as of late. Well not tea in general, just quality teas. Subtlety and nuance don’t quite jibe with antibiotics and a constant metallic taste. However, there has been tea, so this is a roundup of what’s been in the cup.

Ginger Dragon. This tisane was prepared at a Moroccan coffee shop where I went to hear some great music a few nights ago. It was essentially just pure ginger root steeped strongly with honey. It was a fiery, peppery, yellow brew which did wonders for my sore throat but wreaked havoc on my easily nauseated stomach. Just near the end of the generous glass the strength and flavor became a bit too much and too harsh, but I did finish it and it is always my mother’s go-to cure for sore throats so I couldn’t have passed it up.

Turkish Coffee. Not tea at all, but that same coffee shop offered great Turkish coffee hand prepared properly with the little copper Ibrik. It’s a sweet little coffee treat. A real coffee treat not the watered-down variety of national chains and syrups. Super-finely ground coffee is repeatedly boiled with sugar and water in the little vessel, allowed to settle, and then poured into a small demitasse cup for sheer joy. I’m not much of a coffee drinker and it is just sublime. My own Ibrik will be coming soon and I plan on enjoying more of this in the comfort of my own home.

Red Bamboo honey and Luzianne Tea. My personal sick-day standby. The tea is merely a vehicle for transporting the amazingly deep and complex red bamboo honey. I get this tea from a local beekeeper so I don’t know about the availability outside of PA/WV area, but if you can find some, try it. As for the Luzianne, I know it is meant for iced tea and I don’t care. I think it has the most flavor and character of all American teabags and pairs really well with honey of all types.

Matcha Kit-Kats. A Japanese friend recently brought back a box of these little delights. It could just be my dead palate but there isn’t much green tea present, it’s more like a green colored white chocolate kit-kat, which there’s nothing wrong with in my book. I had been hoping for a more bitter and vegetal experience but they are good enough that I went back for more and would probably devour the whole lot if it weren’t in bad taste.

So that’s the roundup, there will be some more coverage of my recent black/red tea foray soon.

Goji and Raspberry Green Tea

December 15, 2008

I’m not a big tisane fan, especially anything with hibiscus in it, but I decided to take a chance on this one that involved actual green tea. My guess is that it is from Republic of Tea’s loose catalog but I bought it from a nondescript glass jar for about five bucks for 1/8lb. Goji berries are kind of a raisin/cranberry mix and I like them which was the hook, the raspberry though worried me a bit because with the tart hibiscus I figured this would be a pucker inducing red brew. I poured in some hot water and was greeted by a pucker inducing red brew. How’d I guess. The mix contains large pieces of Goji and full dried raspberries as well as the damned hibiscus petals and some other tisane bits amongst the generic and low-quality green tea. I’m sure if it were just the goji berries and green tea base it would be better, possibly even with the raspberries still, but as is it is a tough mix. If you like tisanes/hibiscus then the rest of this mashup is actually pretty enjoyable and well balanced but otherwise steer clear.

Ricola Schweizer Krautertee Instant Tea

October 23, 2008

I’ve been graced with the presence of yet another wonderful cold… so although anecdotal I think I prove that even 10+ cups of tea a day can’t keep the doctor away. I refuse to use any cough drop other than Ricola and a while back I noticed a little coffee shop near work sold tins of Ricola instant tea. The problem is that there were three or four kinds and they are only printed in German and at around $10 I didn’t want to guess. After some research I found that the green tin that said “Schweizer Krautertee” which from my rudimentary understanding of German I believe means “Swiss Instant Tea” was the original. Unfortunately again there were no directions discernible to me so Google produced a few results claiming 2tsp per cup was right. I have to say I’m pleasantly surprised and completely hooked!

Ricola Instant Tea

Ricola Instant Tea

It is light and sweet and while close to the flavor of the cough drops due to I’m guessing the same herbs it is much milder and the added warmth is pure heaven. It isn’t a powder as I thought but instant granules that dissolve immediately with little stirring. I guess it could be considered a tisane since it is all herbal (but I’m guessing a fair bit of sugar) but regardless if you have access to some and any hint of a cold or sore throat I couldn’t recommend it higher for some relief. The shop I went to specializes in European and German imports so I’m not sure of it’s availability in the States but Amazon and a few other Internet retailers have it.

Chamomile Lemongrass

August 28, 2008

I know, it isn’t “tea” proper but it is what’s in my cup and I’ve been enjoying it. After an hour-and-a-half commute home last night and over two hours in this morning due to a wreck backing up traffic I went for the calming, soothing option. I’ve had this little packet of loose chamomile flowers and lemongrass bits for a month or two now and just forgot about it. So I tossed some in the gaiwan and brewed it up. The smell was instantly intoxicating for me especially since seperately both components are some of my favorites.

Both ingredients are in balance and it is slightly sweet from the chamomile with just a very tiny hint of the lemongrass on the back end but neither overly strong. Unfortunately I have no info on the origins as it is in a nondescript plain white foil/paper pouch and was purchased from Nicholas Coffee co. here in Pittsburgh, PA. It’s a slightly chilly, dreary, rainy day (my absolute favorite kind!) so it is a great fit.