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!