It’s National Ice Tea Day!

Iced Tea

Photo: Melissa Doroquez

Summer is in full swing for us here in California. School is out. The temperature hit 105°F this week. And we’ve been hanging out in the pool after summer camp.

Today’s weird-for-California mugginess makes me think of living on the East Coast and visiting the South – humid days spent with a tall glass of iced tea with condensation dripping down the sides. And wouldn’t you know, it’s National Iced Tea Day. So here are some of my favorite recipes and some that I’m interested in trying.

  • Southern Sweet Tea – Not just tea with sugar stirred in.
  • Thai Iced Tea – Should have known it came from a mix.
  • Iced Green Tea with Ginger – I had something similar to this one at the Amanyara Resort in Turks and Caicos.
  • Long Island Nice Tea – A spicy, non-alcoholic version of a drink that actually has tea in it.
  • Sun Tea – We used to make this a lot when I was a kid. One summer it was the only way we made it.
  • Cold Brew Iced Tea – Never done this one, but I worry that I would taste the tea bag paper if it was in for so long. Would try with loose leaf tea.

So those are a few recipes to try. Let me know if you like them or if you have any others you think I’d like.

Good ‘instant’ tea from Teadrop – Review

teadrop-logo

If you travel, you’ve probably been disappointed one time (or many) with the tea you’ve been served. I find that they tend to be weak throughout North America, if you’re not at someplace that takes pride in their teas. So I think I might have found an easy way to have good tea while travelling, especially camping. I can’t remember how I stumbled across Teadrop, but I’m glad I did. Luckily, the company sent me a free sampler to try recently.

Teadrop is a local, to me, company in Los Gatos, California started by Sashee Chandran. Her parents hail from Sri Lanka and China (both big tea cultures), so it’s no wonder that she grew up to adore tea. She started Teadrop to find an answer for people who felt that the tea ‘ritual’ to make good tea was just too involved.

Teadrop with waterTeadrop tea comes in cute little shapes of tea, sugar and spice nicely blended together. You place the lump/drop of tea into your teacup and pour boiling water on top. Voila, you have a perfect cup of tea – just add milk if necessary.

Teadrop shapes

My 3 year old daughter loved this tea. Most kids probably will, because they can easily get in on the tea preparation without much mess. We were given a free sampler from the company so we had a few to choose from – a citrus green, rose earl grey, cardamom, and vanilla white. Our favorite was the rose earl grey. Mainly because it’s a black tea and the little one doesn’t like the ‘spicy’ cardamom. I liked all of them, however the cardamom seemed strong to me. I would have to leave that one to have with a fairly heavy meal or something that really complemented the taste. But that’s just my taste. I’m sure there are others out there that would love it.

Teadrop sedimentTeadrop acts like an ‘instant’ tea, but isn’t really one. According to Teadrop, instant tea is derived from extracting tea from processed leaves, and then drying the concentrate to a powder form by freeze drying. Teadrop is not considered an instant tea because the tea leaves are ground until they are super super fine that leaves a sediment on the bottom of the cup. The sediment might take a bit getting used to. The first cup I had, I gulped the last few sips and ate a bunch of the sediment. It tasted ok, but it felt gritty in my mouth. With the second cup I learned to drink the last little bit in tiny sips so that I don’t get a mouthful of sediment. Also, because this tea is so granular you may think there is sand in the packaging when you first open it. It’s not – it’s just that some of the sugar and tea have rubbed off during shipping – not enough rubs off to make any difference to the taste.

Verdict – try it! Whether you’re at work and want a quick way to make the perfect cuppa, travelling in a weak tea zone, or want to minimize bulk on a camping trip, Teadrop offers a great solution to having a quickly made tea that tastes good. They’re $8 for an 8 pack on the Teadrop website.

 

I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

 

 

 

Coffee drinkers just might like the new Tea Forte extra dark tea

So from what I understand, coffee drinkers don’t like tea because it’s just too weak – in taste and caffeine. Well Tea Forte has launched what they say will help fix that perception with their new NOIR pan-roasted black teas. The company says that they carefully crafted it using select leaves from the famed Jamguri tea garden in the Assam highlands in Northern India, and that NOIR tea offers a robust concentrated character to delight even the coffee purist.

Tea Forte present the dark, deep steep of NOIR. (PRNewsFoto/Tea Forte)

Tea Forte present the dark, deep steep of NOIR. (PRNewsFoto/Tea Forte)

After reading about this tea, I did some searching on pan roasting black tea. I can’t find much. Mostly what I found had to do with green tea, and Hojicha is roasted to give it a nutty flavour. So if the effect is the same or similar on black tea, it might make for a more coffee-like flavor. I don’t think the process would add any more caffeine, but Assam typically is fairly caffeinated with a FTGFOP Grade getting you about 86mg per 8 oz. That’s on par with a week coffee. But I haven’t found any information about the NOIR tea’s caffeine levels. The most that their site says is that it’s a “Robust” level, which translates to 50-100mg.

Tea Forte describes the NOIR teas as being full-bodied and aromatic, USDA organic, Fair Trade, and offer an invigorating, deep, robust steep, with malty hints and sweet nuances. Given how they’ve blended it, I suspect that it might have a similar bittersweet quality of a dark chocolate.

Here are NOIR blends’ descriptions from Tea Forte:

  • NOIR Black Cherry: A surrendering black tea with the exotic taste of orchid vanilla bean, licorice root and juicy ripe cherries.
  • NOIR Caramel Nougat: A tantalizing tea with the taste of sweet creamy caramel and toasty roasted hazelnut with a buttery finish.
  • NOIR Peach Brulee: A refreshing black tea offering a masterful blend fragrant with floral and fruit.
  • NOIR Blood Orange: An enlivening tea with the distinct, sweet taste of Moro “deep blood orange”.
  • NOIR Chocolate Rose: An indulgent, naturally sweet cup with a deep chocolate taste and pleasing floral finish.

NOIR is available in Tea Forte’s signature pyramid infusers or loose tea canisters. I’m curious to try it. What about you?

Get a Tea Forte Noir Tin Box of 6 Pyramid Infusers on Amazon

Did you get your free iced tea today?

Iced Tea

Photo: TheCulinaryGeek on Flickr

So it turns out today is National Iced Tea day! Well it’s National Iced Tea Month as well, so don’t feel like you’ve missed it. We won’t start the argument whether or not it should come sweet or not. Or should we? Here are some places where you can take advantage of the iced tea giveaways that are happening this week.

  • Teavana– Print the coupon – good June 10 only
  • 7-Eleven – Download the app to get a coupon for a free Snapple – good ALL WEEK
  • QuikTrip – Sign up for coupon good until June 13
  • Sunoco – Free Arizona iced tea with coupon – good June 10 only

There are also lots of local freebies out there – so keep your eyes peeled this month.

Do you raise your pinky when you drink tea?

pinky ettiquetteYou’ve probably seen it plenty of times in movies or done it yourself when playing at being prim and proper – raising your pinky in the air while drinking your afternoon tea. But according to Miss Manners, raising your pinky went out of fashion a long time ago.

According to Miss Manners:

Even that perennially easy target, the pinkie in the air, has provocative implications having to do with international commerce and class strife.

The gesture dates from the 17th century, when tea began to be imported to England from China. It was so expensive that those who could afford it kept it locked up in so-called tea caddies. They drank it from Chinese teacups, which do not have handles but are held in the fingers. Because the thin cups transmitted heat from the tea, it was sensible to put as few fingers on them as necessary — hence the escaping little finger, and sometimes the ring and middle fingers as well.

This habit became a symbol of wealth, when few people could afford tea, let alone imported cups. It quickly progressed, along a path you will recognize, to becoming a symbol of pretentiousness. At that point, the pinkie in the air — no longer necessary because the West had developed teacups with handles — became bad manners.

Miss Manners is amazed that it is still cited, now that tea is one of the least expensive possible drinks available. She would be surprised if you had ever actually seen this gesture in real life.
Full article

I’m not sure why Miss Manners has never seen anyone raise their pinky. A simple search on Flickr shows many people raising their pinky, even though it’s most likely in jest. But why does the pinky in the air continue to be seen as something wealthy people do when we’ve obviously have had tea cups with handles for hundreds of years now and tea is readily available in every grocery store? You’d think that the practice would have been forgotten over time. What do you think, is it really a faux pas to raise your pinky? Or is it all part of enjoying your afternoon tea?

What are the best tea places in NYC?

Tomorrow we head out to NY for week or so. I haven’t lived in the NY area for over 10 years now, so there are loads of great new tea houses and cafes that I’ve never been to. I have a couple in mind to visit while I’m there, but if you have any suggestions – let me know!

I love my cup from we are happy to serve you

Who’s the best of the best in North American tea?

Oh my I haven’t posted here in a year – but I had a good excuse. I got pregnant and had a baby girl! And no we didn’t name her Tea, although it did cross my mind. But what better way to get back into blogging than talking about the best of the best teas in North America. The North American Tea Championship named 19 first-place winners in its annual Hot Tea Class / Fall Tea evaluation, which took place Feb. 22 – 23 in Las Vegas. Rishi Tea shone in the competition by winning a total of four 1st place spots.

It wasn’t just the well established brands that succeeded. Five newbies to the competition came out on top in each of their categories: Ajiri Tea Company, Globex America dba Cavallini Coffee & Tea, Rare Tea Cellar Inc., Tao Tea Leaf; and Yogic Chai.

Overall, competitors showcased an assortment of premium fall teas in 19 different categories – from Assam to Yunnan – and the renowned judges evaluated nearly 200 teas. (Imaging being lucky enough to drink all that tea!) The teas were evaluated blind and through organoleptic analysis of the following characteristics: dry leaf, brewed color, brewed aroma, brewed flavor, brewed mouth-feel, and brewed harmony.  An overall rating on a 100-point scale was then calculated based on the ratings of each characteristic above. You can see the full list of winners, their ratings, prices (prepare for sticker shock for some) and links to the winners’ sites on the North American Tea Champion site.

First place “Signature Famous Teas” winners include:

  • Assam – TeaGschwendner, Assam SFTGFOP Marangi Second Flush
  • Bai Hao/Oriental Beauty – Barnes & Watson Fine Teas, Bai Hao – Exquisite
  • Breakfast Blend – The Republic of Tea, Lucky Irish Breakfast Full-Leaf Loose Tea
  • Chai – Yogic Chai, Original Masala Chai
  • Darjeeling – Rishi Tea, Organic Fair Trade Darjeeling Estate Select
  • Earl Grey – Rishi Tea, Organic Fair Trade Earl Grey
  • Jasmine – The Republic of Tea, Imperial Republic Jasmine Pearls
  • Keemun – Tao Tea Leaf Ltd., Keemun Kong Fu
  • Yunnan – Rishi Tea, Organic Fair Trade Golden Needle

First place “General Category Teas” winners include:

  • Aged/Baked Oolong Tea – Naivetea, Dong Ding Oolong
  • Black Tea – Qtrade Teas & Herbs, Winter Frost
  • Black Tea CTC (crush, tear, curl) – Ajiri Tea Company, Ajiri Tea
  • Blended Black Tea – China Mist Brands, Organic Berry Black
  • Blended Oolong Tea – Teas Etc., Ginseng Oolong
  • Dark Oolong Tea – Qtrade Teas & Herbs, Red Robe Oolong
  • Flavored Oolong Tea – Globex America dba Cavallini Coffee & Tea, Plum, Mango Sake
  • Flavored Rooibos Blends – Rare Tea Cellar Inc., Gingerbread Dream Rooibos
  • Green Oolong Tea – Rishi Tea, Bao Zhong
  • Flavored Black Tea – The Republic of Tea, Fair Trade Cranberry Blood Orange Full-Leaf Loose Tea

A Winners’ Tasting Circle will be held at 2011 World Tea Expo June 24 -26 for all attendees. Oh I wish I was going!

Next up for North American Tea Championships is an Iced Tea competition in May – just in time for summer! And then the Spring Hot Tea competition will be held in July in Las Vegas.

According to the organizers, the championship is the only independent and professionally-judged tea competition in North America. Each year, the competition identifies the highest quality and best tasting teas that are commercially available in the marketplace.

Will Hugh Jackman convince you to drink Lipton iced tea?

Hugh Jackman seems to be able to do it all: Play the super hero, dance, sing and melt your heart – all at the same time. And now he’s adding ad man to his resume with the new Lipton Iced Tea commercials. Mass made iced tea choices come down to two things for me most times – is it actually brewed tea and is it in a glass bottle? I can’t stand the ones that taste like they’re from a mix and, even worse, if they’re in a can they taste like metal. I haven’t had the Lipton tea in a glass bottle for a while now, so I can’t remember if it tastes like it’s actually brewed. But who am I to argue with Hugh?

“Tokyo Dancing Hotel”

“Hard Day’s Work” On a beach

A tea house heated by compost

If you’ve been wanting to build your very own private tea house in your backyard, but the cost of heating it has been stopping you…well a Japanese design  firm, BAKOKO,  has just the thing for you.

Bakoko Comploo Composting Teahouse

This circular pod-shaped teahouse  harnesses the heat generated by compost –  temperatures in excess of 120°F. According to  Inhabitat:

To feed the composter, garden waste, food scraps or other compost materials can be dropped in through a door at the top of each bin.

A system of sealed ducts runs through each of the bins, and as the air circulates within the walls, the decaying compost warms it. This heated air is in turn emitted through a central vent that releases into the structure’s interior. Occupants can comfortably sit along a circular bench surrounding the heat source, and enjoy the ambient natural light permeating through the transparent dome roof above.

It’s not clear if this is just concept at this point or if you can order it. I’m sure if you contacted BAKOKO they’d work with you to create it.

(via Boing Boing, Inhabitat)

The Victoria Tea Festival 2010

Victoria Tea FestivalThis weekend the Victoria Tea Festival celebrates its 4th year on February 13 and 14 at the Crystal Garden in Victoria, BC. Weekend passes are $20 in advance, or $25 at the door.

It promises to be an energy-filled weekend with over 3,000 attendees.And the festival is expanding to provide more opportunities this year for festival goers to experience, learn, sample, touch, smell and inquire about all things tea and to engage in an exclusive, interactive and educational tea experience. Exquisite tea wares are available to buy. For the first time, a limited edition souvenir tea-tasting cup—designed and generously donated by Artfarm—will be available for purchase to help raise funds for Camosun College’s Child Care Services.

Festival attendees can steep themselves in tea lore by taking in a complimentary presentation by tea experts who will share their knowledge on the presentation stage.

Saturday, February 13

  • 1 pm – The Ache’s Pride: How Yerba Mate is Saving a Rainforest and Her People (Robert McCauley, Cebador – Northernites Syndicate/Guayaki)
  • 2 pm – Chinese Tea Ceremony (Daniela Cubelic, Owner – Silk Road)
  • 3 pm – Cooking with Tea (Heidi Fink, Chef & food writer)
  • 4 pm – English Tea Traditions and Blends (Susan Livingston, Director of Product Development – Murchies)

Sunday, February 14

  • 11 am – Rooibos and Honeybush Teas (Irene Drmla, owner – Special Teas Inc.)
  • 12 pm – Taking the Chill off of Iced Teas (Bob Krul, CTC Brewt Corp. & Brendan Waye, The Tea Guy)
  • 1 pm – Ceylon, The Island of Tea (Jennifer Petersen, Master Tea Blender & Tea Business Trainer)
  • 2 pm – Refreshment of the Spirit: Oriental Tea & Wine Drinking Vessels (Barry Till, Curator of Asian Art – Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
  • 3 pm – Commentaries on Modern Life~Selected Teatime Readings (Earlene Grey, Author)

For a complete list of ticket outlets, event details and presentation descriptions, visit  the Victoria Tea Festival website.