Is there a tea that can compete with coffee?

We are definitely not a coffee family in my house. But with kids, work, school, life…there are times when we need that jolt of caffeine that only coffee or Red Bull seem to give – and I hate the taste of both! Caramel Black HiCaf Tea - The Republic of TeaSo when a free sample from The Republic of Tea arrived in the mail with some of the Caramel Black HiCaf Tea in the box I was a little  little skeptical. Was it really going to be as strong as any coffee or an energy drink? Is it going to taste like sludge? If it does have a lot of caffeine am I going to get a migraine? (It happens some time.) I wasn’t sure what to make of it.

So I let it sit in the cabinet for a week until my 3-year-old daughter decided that wouldn’t it be nice to wake mommy and daddy up at 6 am on a Saturday. Sun’s up, so we all must be up. I could barely keep my eyes open. Then I remembered – the tea! So I made a cup for my husband and myself.

Taste  – It’s a smooth slightly sweet caramel on top of a nice traditional black. If you like sweet, you will LOVE this tea with a touch of sugar. It was fine without any sugar, not overly sweet. My husband and his big sweet tooth (and sugar cubes) thought this was the bee’s knees. He should be writing this review he loved it so much, but alas he’s too busy.

Caffeine content - Hi Cafe Tea - The Republic of TeaBuzz – So I was raring to go after this one cup, but without being jittery like I get with coffee. It kept me going until the afternoon. I got through all the cleaning in the house, some projects and went to the park on one cup of tea. Usually I need 3 cups.  There’s 123 mg of caffeine in a properly brewed 6 oz cup of this HiCaf Tea! Wow! It even has a warning on the label.  And I was buzzing about like the busy little bee that’s on their label. My husband on the other hand was not feeling as pumped up as me – awake but not exactly ready to conquer the world and the moon like me. But he’s not as sensitive to caffeine as I am. I could have used this tea at university when I needed to stay up late writing a paper but still needed to think coherently.

The Next Day

Hi Caf Tea - The Republic of TeaMy husband got to the kitchen first on Sunday morning and decided to brew a pot of tea – the nice husband that he is. You can probably guess where this is going. He put in the Caramel Black HiCaf Tea, because he loved the taste of it so much. Also, he failed to tell me that he put that in the pot. I thought it was another caramel that we had in the cabinet. Silly me! This did not bode well for me. Since I’m more sensitive to caffeine I was seeing the effects of drinking 3 cups of it. Needless to say when I realized what happened, I was downing water to flush it out. I was okay. But I could see if you have kids in the house who drink tea and might not understand that this one has too much caffeine for them, you’re going to want to put this tin in an odd/out-of-the-way place.

Verdict

If you like slightly sweet teas and you need a quick jolt of energy – get the Caramel Black HiCaf Tea from The Republic of Tea stat! It will save you on the weariest of mornings. And it tastes good to boot. Not a combination that you always get – one that you definitely don’t get with Red Bull (imho).  But be aware of just how much caffeine you’re taking in.

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.

Victorian Noel Gala

Our most elegant and festive event of the season! Champagne, candlelight, music and a 5-course dinner (soup, salad, sorbet, entree with side dishes and dessert)

Reservations required

Sugar Plum Children’s Tea

And visions of Sugar Plums danced in their heads.” Night Before Christmas.

Children ages 5 -11 take tea with the proprietress Dale Ann, decorate Christmas cupcakes and enjoy special entertainment by the Holiday Fairy!

Reservations required.

Victorian Noel Gala

Our most elegant and festive event of the season! Champagne, candlelight, music and a 5-course dinner (soup, salad, sorbet, entree with side dishes and dessert)

Reservations required

Teavana debuts new tea bar, but will it work?

Are you a Teavana fan? I’m on the fence with them, especially after Starbucks acquired them about a year ago.teavana logo I think I had expected them to become more a tea-cafe experience rather than just a store. They’ve been doing a decent job of it given that they’ve seem to be expanding at a quick pace, but the experience of purchasing a cup of tea and enjoying it on premise has been greatly lacking. Don’t get me wrong, the people that work there typically know they’re stuff and are helpful. But the shops are rarely designed to accommodate a crowd ordering tea and waiting for it to steep. And sometimes there’s no milk! You’re then ushered out the door by waiting patrons to sip your tea as you stroll the mall. But it sounds like they too were thinking the experience could be improved.

Teavana Fine Teas + Tea Bar on Madison Ave, NYC

Teavana Fine Teas + Tea Bar on Madison Ave, NYC

So, Teavana today previewed it’s first Teavana Fine Teas + Tea Bar in New York City’s stylish Upper East Side. Opening tomorrow (24 Oct 2013), you’ll have the Teavana “Wall of Tea” featuring a wide range of loose leaf teas and tea blends, and the store will have a collection of curated tea merchandise. Additionally, customers will be able to choose from a range of food items, all inspired by and designed to complement tea flavors, including pastries and breakfast items, salads, flatbreads and small plates, and macaroons (is this macaroons or macarons? Someone tell me what they sell?), shortbreads and other desserts . They say the bar will make the ritual of tea more elevated and accessible for customers. Hopefully this means that I won’t leave more agitated than I went in on a busy shopping day. The new tea bar experience will expand to additional stores over the course of the next year. (I hope San Jose is near the top of the list.) I guess us plebeians outside of the Upper East Side will just have to wait to see if this tea bar is as good as it sounds.

Teavana Fine Teas + Teavana Tea Bar is located at 1142 Madison Avenue (cross street: 85th Street).To learn more about store hours and offerings, visit www.teavana.com.

starbucks-logoIn other Starbucks news

I was informed today that they have a Chocolate Chai Tea Latte for autumn. (Dessert in a cup!)  Also, announced today, we’ll begin to see a curated loose leaf tea selection for customers in Starbucks stores. Sounds like this is along the lines of what we see in Peet’s Coffee. And earlier this month Starbucks also changed its rewards program so you can also use your points to buy beverages and loose-leaf teas at Teavana.

Teatanic infuser – tasteful or tasteless?

A tea infuser in the shape of the Titanic. Tasteful or tasteless?

A tea infuser in the shape of the Titanic?

A friend pointed me toward this Teatanic tea infuser over at perpetual kid. I guess if you’re a big fan of the Titanic and tea you have a must have tribute to both. Personally, I don’t quite understand the obsession with the Titanic (I have watched the movie with Leo and Kate several times though), but I’m not sure how suitable it is to essentially poke fun at a tragedy. Or maybe I’m too sensitive. What do you think – tasteful or tasteless?

 

 

Gift idea: Holiday / Advent Calendar of Tea

Okay, so this is not an original idea. I was in David’s Tea today and picked up one of their 24 Days of Tea Advent Calendar. It’s a great idea for an early Christmas gift for the tea lover in your life. They also had an 8 Days of Tea for Hanukka. Unfortunately both are no longer available online, and the 24 Days isn’t even listed anymore. BUT you can easily create your own, and one that you can use over and over again each year.

Here’s How:

  1. Find either a tea storage box or small wooden storage drawers in the appropriate number of days. For example, this 8 section bamboo tea storage box or this 25 drawer box.
  2. Decorate your calendar in the appropriate theme using paint, paper and stickers. For the tea caddy, you can cover each section with felt or foam that gets removed on the day. Make sure to number each section or drawer.
  3. Fill each drawer or section with a different tea. You can buy a tea sampler or, if you’re like me, you could fill it with tea from your own cabinet.
  4. Voilà! You have a holiday tea calendar that you can use every year.

Alice’s Tea Cup

Given that we’re in New York for a wedding with a 10 month old in tow, we haven’t had a lot of time to explore tea houses as I would have wanted (excuse for another visit). But we did make it to Alice’s Tea Cup yesterday.

20111110-195430.jpgAlice’s has been recommended to me by many people, probably because I’m a huge Alice in Wonderland fan. It’s a cozy yet roomy tea house – as only a Lewis Carroll inspired restaurant could be. We went to ‘chapter ii’ on E 64th. There’s another location on the upper east side and one on the upper west. don’t expect it to be full on Alice a la Disney. It’s tastefully whimsical with a Victorian flare and quotes from the story on the walls.

The staff were incredibly welcoming and accommodating. We had our small umbrella stroller and left it downstairs at the tiny entrance, while baby was with us in a high chair upstairs. I got the impression that while they appreciate smaller strollers they would do their best to accommodated the SUV-esque ones that are popular. But there is very little room-you’re warned!

We arrived fairly early and breakfast was still being served. And guess what! They have a Mad Hatter breakfast tea – 3 tiers of breakfast favorites: a scone, eggs (mostly eaten in picture), and homemade granola with yogurt. Where else can you get a proper morning tea?
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It was more delicious than expected. I had the buttermilk scone and hubby had the vegan coconut lemon scone – both were moist and yummy. Eggs were scrambled to perfection. The granola was slightly more browned than I’m used to but was flaky and nutty (how apropos for a Mad Hatter tea). All in all I give it an A.

Now for the tea. Their tea menu is a book. So when you sit down decide what kind of tea you want ( black, green, red, flavored, scented, decaf, etc.) and go from there. Since it was my first time I went with the house blend – Alice’s tea. It’s a black blend with a bit of green in it. I thought it was slighty floral, but maybe that was the jet lag. Either way, it was a nice compliment to the breakfast. Hubby had a vanilla caramel blend and it satisfied his sweet tooth. Baby is still too little for tea.

Will I go back? Yes. And I may make it a tradition for my daughter and me. Afterward we strolled over to the park for photos in front of the Alice in Wonderland sculpture.

Today’s tea: Viennese Blend

It’s number 996 in the TeaGschwendner Book of Tea. 20110714-025054.jpgIt describes it as

An Austrian specialty steeped in the tradition of Vienna’s famous baked delicacies, most notably the “sacher torte”. Selected teas from Darjeeling and Ceylon are treated to a hint of bergamot and jasmine. Ingredients: black teas from Darjeeling and Ceylon, jasmine blossoms and natural flavor.

It’s a nice golden orange color after brewing it the recommended 2 minutes. There’s just a hint of bergamot and doesn’t overwhelm the palate as some Earl Greys can. And there’s more than a hint of jasmine, which I love. The stronger jasmine flavor/aroma could be due to the fact that the use full blossoms, not pieces as can be seen in other brands. It is slightly on the bitter side.

How do you recycle your tea bags?

If you’re a tea addict like me, and using loose leaf tea isn’t always convenient, you probably go through a lot of tea bags in a week. If I have at least 3 cups a day, that comes to 1,095 tea bags a year and about 1.6 kilos of tea! That’s a lot of tea taking up the landfill if everyone’s drinking that much. In honor of Earth Day (belated), here are some suggestions on how to reuse your tea bags instead of just throwing them in the trash.

"mr. tea" by steev-o

  1. Compost – Yup, you can compost them as long as the bags are made of paper (always double check these days since many companies are using synthetics in their bags)
  2. Eye compress – Instead of cucumbers, try cold tea bags instead. Pop them in the fridge, and the cold, tannins and caffeine will help reduce puffy eyes. (Be sure to keep them damp)
  3. Art – Let the tea dry, and you have yourself an interesting medium to sprinkle on top of glue to create designs.
  4. Potted plant filler – Line the bottoms of potted plants with tea bags to help collect water and keep your soil from drying out too quickly.
  5. Bath soak – Put a bunch in a cheesecloth for a fragrant bath (see how)

How do you reuse your tea bags?

Photo: “mr. tea” by steev-o