Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Don't Deny Global Warming - Ben & Jerry's Iced Teazers

I know. I'm a lousy blogger. I go months without posting, and then come back as if nothing happened. Sorry about that, but moving on...
If you were in the vicinity of a Ben & Jerry's this July 29th, you could've tried the company's new Iced TeaZers--basically ice-cold lemonade drinks with white tea, ginger, and hibiscus chucked in for additional awesomeness--for only 99 cents! (Relation to previous post completely accidental, but convenient!) Incidentally, I grew up with B&J's and still wonder how such great ice cream could originate so far from the beach--Vermont's summers weren't Arctic, no, but they weren't hot either. If you wanted to cool off, you basically had to get mom to drive you half a million miles to some scummy pond with a rock to jump off of. Swimming there required major cajones because you knew once you got out again you'd have to spend ten minutes convincing a leech to kiss your foot goodbye (this actually happened to my brother). Actually, that might be WHY we made great ice cream in VT; there are few alternatives. That, and our cows own.

Friday, July 25, 2008

ThrifTea - Trader Joe's teas

I don't need to tell you that food prices are climbing, I'm sure. Certainly, you're already worried enough about gas prices and keeping your house in what's being called the US's next economic recession. In times like these, hitting Starbucks daily or spending top dollar on admittedly fine brands like THEODOR seems self-destructive, but then again, a cup of tea does go a long way toward helping you relax. What's a thrifty drinker to do?
First of all, there's always your friendly neighborhood Trader Joe's. And before you think I've lost it, at least try the Ruby Red Chai and Pomegranate White Tea--guaranteed crowd-pleasers in my opinion. At $5 or under, these teas will be a balm to your soul, especially after a long and annoying day at work.
And while you're there, you might as well try these budget-shopping-and-cooking tips from Epicurious. I know I will!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Are there any City Year members in the audience?

If you look at the label inventory of my total posts and do a little math, you'll see that, with this post, the total amount of attention I've given to tea reviews on this blog is perfectly equal to how much I've mentioned Parkour, the Hanshin Tigers, and other completely unrelated subjects. In other words, this blog should be called Half-Addicted-to-Chai-and-Half-Everything-Else. Either I have blogger's ADD, or tea really does induce a contemplative state of mind that causes you to find everything wonderfully curious.
But this post isn't about that. It's about City Year.
For those of you who have never heard of City Year, it's a ten-month full-time tutoring program in which young adults work with kids and communities to generally make the city a better place to live. Blah blah blah. OK, so the point is, I think I'd like to do it next year.
There's one problem. I've never done this sort of thing--I mean volunteering, community service, tutoring, anything like that. Sure, I've worked with kids a lot and love them, and I'd also love to contribute to society somehow, but it just seems like a huge commitment right now. So if there are any current corps members or alumni reading this by any chance please feel free to post any advice you have. As an alternative, you can contact me at gold_tangerine@hotmail.com.
At any rate, I'll try to be more focused on the hot stuff from here on in.

Monday, July 7, 2008

True Parisian Perfume – THEODOR scented teas

Some time ago I had the chance to sample a few gems from the extensive repertoire of French tea brand THEODOR. What struck me most about them wasn’t the tea quality per se, but the aroma of each blend; tearing off the top of the bag in the kitchen, my nostrils filled with the scent of citrus or vanilla even before the loose leaves hit hot water.

Owing to my Slavic ancestry, October Revelation of the Russian Blends series seemed a good place to start; China black tea with the addition of not one, not three, but seven citrus flavors—grapefruit, sweet lemon, Clementine, sweet orange, lime, mandarin, and of course Bergamot—makes this tea a dream come true for lovers of tanginess. However, to others the combination of slightly bitter black tea and sour flavors might make lips pucker, so indulge in another long-standing Russian tradition and stir in some honey while it’s hot.

The 1842, 29th August blend was next (by the way, don’t you just love these names?) probably because it’s only three days from my birthday. An ambitious medley of green tea, orange blossoms, almond, lime essence and rose petals would have been a fine gift for any Virgo, but I found a flaw—the mere complexity of the taste. The green tea’s presence is still too strong to be in harmony with the others, and I believe it was the lime’s acidity that soured the experience a bit for me. I truly believe, however, that this could be a great tea with some tweaks.

Last of all was Melange de Galice—which, compared to the first two, seemed a startlingly simple tea, just Bourbon vanilla and peaches on a background of Chinese black. But from the first sip, I knew this was it. Maybe I have a weakness for peach-infused teas—Tazo’s Giant Peach and Honest Tea’s Peach Oo-La-Long come to mind—but then there was the light accent of vanilla, like a shot of sun on a cloudy day, brightening the proceedings yet not intruding on the deep, dark flavor of the tea. And the smell—oh, the smell! Summery and sweet from the peaches, with the vanilla adding a creamy note so you practically forget you’re making black tea until you actually drink it. I highly recommend THEODOR; you’ve never had anything like it before!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

My IGoogle Theme!

To tell you the truth, I only got an Igoogle (a personalized version of everyone's favorite search engine, thank you very much) for the Google Reader, which connects you to the latest posts at all your favorite blogs with one click. Then I got sucked into adding widgets--really, start and you can't stop--and before long I had not only the requisite date and time, but the weather in my immediate region and current hockey and science/technology news and statistics. But nothing sold me on making Igoogle my homepage as much as the sweet Tea House theme.
And what's not to love? Featuring an Asian-inspired temple landscape that changes dynamically in real time (the cute fox protagonist, depending on what time of day you check your page, can be found picking apples, washing laundry, having a picnic, looking through his telescope and more!), this theme might just make you forget what you wanted to Google in the first place!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

What is White Tea?

Generally speaking, all true tea comes from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. The difference between Matcha and Earl Grey isn't in the species, but in the processing of the leaves.
Black tea gets the full treatment, being withered, rolled, fermented, and dried to coax out its deep, slightly bitter flavor. Freshly picked green tea, on the other hand, is allowed to dry, then oxidized to prevent fermentation. Oolong is semi-fermented, in between black and green in appearance and flavor, and is never rolled, so the leaves are kept whole. And for the production of white tea, new tea buds and leaves are plucked and dried--that's it.
The resulting brew is light-colored and refreshing, with a clean and subtle taste. It's also said to be lower in caffiene than green or black, and a 2004 study found that it's even better at beating the crap out of germs than green tea!
If you can't stand the bite of black or the toasty punch of green, white tea just might be for you. Mild-mannered, it pairs well with herbal and fruit blends. Two to try:

Organic Vanilla Apple White Tea by Celestial Seasonings
Fresh, sweet, and cidery. You're just about drinking August in Vermont.

Pomegranate White Tea with Açaî by Honest Tea
Tangy, with a double punch of antioxidants. It comes in a bottle, and you can most definitely find it at Whole Foods. Enjoy!

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.com

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Green Tea Pastries

I've just found out what Opera Cake is. If that's a shocker, then consider I've also only just now found out that people make it with Matcha green tea. Coffee, almonds, and chocolate ganache are perfect for each other, and that's the basis of the Opera Cake as I understand it--however, I have to say that infusing something with Matcha, no matter what it is, has the minor side effect of making that creation instantly awesome.
Cereal, for example. Or donuts. Or heck, ice cream. You can't really go wrong with Matcha powder.

Note: that Green Tea Donut image is courtesy of Stephen's Blog. It's a good one, go check it out, especially if you love the concept of Japan as much as yours truly. The cake, of course, is from Canelle et Vanille. Thank you!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Yet More Canned Tea! - Froid Organic Drinks

I have to say I spent a while choosing Froid's Organic Creamy Chai Tea (right, the yellow one) over some run-of-the-mill organic mango-orange seltzer for my lunchtime elixer. First of all, as you can imagine I'm a bit disenchanted with canned teas by now, and second of all I was sure (somehow) it would be too sweet for me. Eventually, though, investigative instincts won out. And I'm sad to say my hunch was at least partially correct.
It was basically chocolate milk with a tinge of spices--and don't get me wrong, I can drink cartons of that stuff when I'm skateboarding--but too milky and, in fact, mild for me to feel the magic of true chai within. Still, if you want something both USDA Organic and yummy to wash down that peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich, go for it.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

We Drink Tea! (Profanity Warning)

Some boys from the UK made a video response to Chris Parnell and Andy Samburg's 'Lazy Sunday' Saturday Night Live short (AKA 'Narnia Rap'). Though the original made me titter--a rarity for SNL these days--I find the parody a smarter, edgier experience.

Or could it just be the assertiveness with which they extol the virtues of weekend tea?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Look out, Tazo - INTI ZEN Teas

I'm feeling loved with Argentinean tea brand Inti Zen's 8-blend sampler; everything from green tea with chamomile flowers and orange peel to a tropical fruit-filled version of Assam Black to, yes, good ol' chai, all in a cute little black box that fits in my shoulder bag. Each artistically-named tea (come on, you have to love a company that calls English Breakfast Illumine) has a distinctive, delicious aroma you can smell even before you open the bag! My favorite so far is the Tea for Tango, a jasmine-infused yerba mate; one of the simpler blends and very refreshing. This is the brand for people who think tea is bland, bitter, or boring--Tazo, watch your back!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Beyond April Fool's - And You Thought It Was A Real Post

You Are Green Tea Pocky

Your attitude: natural and zen

Peaceful yet full of life. Deep and thoughtful.

You're halfway to tantric bliss!

Let's just have this be my overdue April Fool's entry...though I didn't rig it in any way! I promise it's the last quiz result that's gonna be on here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tea for Breakfast - Optimum Rebound Cereal

Forget Froot Loops! Banana chips, almonds, and Matcha green tea--all USDA Organic, I might add--make Optimum Rebound by Nature's Path anything but run-of-the-mill granola. (Sorry about that!) Puns aside, the banana makes for a quaint sweetness, not too strong, while crunch and chew is provided by the tried-and-true nuts and raisins. And then there's the puffed Kamut, which apart from having a way awesomer name than every other grain in existence, tastes better than the rest too. Add it all up, and then top it off with organic green tea. Why don't they make more cereals like this?

PS. Best enjoyed with Silk Soymilk, trust me. I would know!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Flowers in the Grass - Ranong Green Teas

Flavored green tea is a boon for those who don't relish its strong toastiness, but still want to get the health benefits of the stuff. Still, I believe green tea is an acquired taste, and shouldn't always be buried under Honey-Lemon, Blueberry, or Ginger. How about just a whiff of Jasmine or Chrysanthemum? Thai brand Ranong Tea has made just that--delicately scented green teas in four flavors, so you'll definitely find a sip to suit you.

ps. Another completely unrelated, but hilarious, Wiki tidbit from my research. While checking out my novel's setting (Osaka, Japan) I came upon the Hanshin Tigers, a very Red Sox-like baseball team (and I root for Boston, so no hate mail!) complete with its own curse, called 'The Curse of the Colonel'. The funny part is, the Colonel it refers to is the KFC dude, no less.

As with many other underachieving baseball teams, a curse is believed to lurk over the Tigers. After their 1985 Japan Series win, fans celebrated by having people who looked like Tigers players jump into the Dotonbori Canal. According to legend, because none of the fans resembled first baseman Randy Bass, fans grabbed a life-sized statue of Kentucky Fried Chicken mascot Colonel Sanders and threw it into the river (like Bass, the Colonel had a beard and was not Japanese). The statue was never recovered. Thus, the Tigers are said to be doomed never to win the season again until the Colonel is rescued from the river.

In 2003, when the Tigers returned to the Japan Series after 18 years with one of the worst records in the Central League, many KFC outlets in Kōbe and Ōsaka moved their Colonel Sanders statues inside until the series was over to protect them from Tigers fans.

You wouldn't think baseball would have such an occult side to it, huh? With due respect to the Tigers, all I can say is there's probably a very unhappy whale somewhere, suffering from indigestion and dreaming of a cup of Tazo Green Ginger.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

What kind of Tea are You? - Quizilla's Concoction

What kind of tea are you?

Hot herbal tea: A spa for the soul.
Take this quiz!

These net-quizzes are the worst--blogthings.com takes a bite out of my work ethic, to be sure--but don't you want to know what sort of tea you'd be?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Got Milk, But Not Really - Silk Soy Products

I'm no vegan, sure. I even eat fish sometimes, though not since all those mercury warnings in the Times. But I was raised on soymilk, so to me real milk tastes like the fake stuff. Yeah, I know.

Soymilk is a perfect beverage for those who have a
dairy allergy or are lactose intolerant. Silk Soymilks are
dairy and lactose free, in addition to being vegan safe,
kosher-DE, and gluten-free.

Soy protein has been shown to moderately reduce
elevated blood cholesterol levels and may lower blood
pressure as well. Research on the heart-healthy
benefits of soy is so convincing that the U.S. Food and
Drug Administration (FDA) allows soy food companies
to carry a health claim on their labels advising
consumers of the cardiovascular benefits of eating soy
protein as part of a healthy diet.

Studies show that populations who consume soy foods
on a regular basis have lower rates of certain cancers
including breast, prostate, colon, and endometrial
cancers. In fact, in Japan and China where soy foods
are a staple of the diet, breast cancer rates are just
one-fifth of those in the Western world.

So why not give Silk Soymilk a try? As a fortified soymilk, it has the same amount of calcium as run-of-the-mill cow's milk; 300 miligrams per 8-ounce glass. Plus, this stuff comes in Plain, Vanilla, Chocolate, even Mocha and--wait for it--CHAI. AND ALL OF THEM ARE GOOD FOR YOU! Plus, Starbucks picked this brand as its choice soymilk. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is JUSTICE.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Yogi Tea - For The Hippies Out There

What's that? It's been almost a month since my last post? I owe you guys something special, but for now check out Yogi Tea's new releases--like 77% organic Mexican Sweet Chili, which contains among other things cocoa and cayenne--as well as longtime faves such as 95% organic Echinacea Immune Support with astragulus and several species of the cold-busting herb, especially if, like me, you still feel a little wussy after that flu.
I can't say I love yoga--I hate it, in fact--but thankfully you don't have to be a hippie, or a yogi in fact, to enjoy this tea.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sorry, been Sick - The Glory of Ginger

Sorry about the lateness of this post--it hasn`t been a great holiday season for me. First off, I must have been a really naughty girl in 2007, `cause Santa didn`t even give me a lump of coal--yup I had a 104-degree fever on Christmas Eve. Then came the sore throats and ear aches...
The one good thing about being sick was it gave me an opportunity to drink tea religiously, meaning even more than I do already. In my family it`s all ginger, honey and lime if you get the sniffles; it really warms you up. Turns out ginger`s good for a lot of stuff.

Ginger is most commonly known for its effectiveness as a digestive aid. By increasing the production of digestive fluids and saliva, Ginger helps relieve indigestion, gas pains, diarrhea and stomach cramping. The primary known constituents of Ginger Root include gingerols, zingibain, bisabolenel, oleoresins, starch, essential oil (zingiberene, zingiberole, camphene, cineol, borneol), mucilage, and protein. Ginger root is also used to treat nausea related to both motion sickness and morning sickness. Ginger has been found to be even more effective than Dramamine® in curbing motion sickness, without causing drowsiness. Ginger's anti-inflammatory properties help relieve pain and reduce inflammation associated with arthritis, rheumatism and muscle spasms. Ginger's therapeutic properties effectively stimulate circulation of the blood, removing toxins from the body, cleansing the bowels and kidneys, and nourishing the skin. Other uses for Ginger Root include the treatment of asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory problems by loosening and expelling phlegm from the lungs. Ginger Root may also be used to help break fevers by warming the body and increasing perspiration.

Not just that pink stuff at the sushi bar, in other words. Who knew? Anyway, an overdue Happy New Year for the rest of you, hope yours didn`t involve popping an Advil and watching satellite TV all night, then getting woken up by a cell phone message from your mom at midnight (which doesn`t sound so bad if I put it that way).