Lovely Friends, Lovely Tea

Aren’t friends wonderful?! I think so, and I’m very grateful to have some lovely friends who understand and indulge, some even facilitate, my passion for tea. Case in point – the tea I’m going to share with you today was a gift from a very dear friend, Beverly, who was actually my matron of honour when Rick and I married back in 1988.

Beverly has family in Florida and while on vacation picked up a couple of teas for me to try. It was a pleasant surprise to say the least. Knowing someone is thinking of you while on vacation, and visiting with family no less, gives one a warm and cozy feeling inside. I am so blessed.
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This tea came from The Spice & Tea Exchange of Mount Dora. It’s kind of odd actually that I picked today out of the whole month of January to review one of the teas that she gifted me with from here because this shop was closed today for remodeling, according to their Facebook page. If you live in the vicinity, you might want to drop in and look over their newly remodeled tea bar. Wish I could do that, but it’s a bit of a drive from here to there, and I’m still babysitting.

Cinnamon Plum Herbal Tea is the blend that I’d like to tell you about now. The aroma that wafts out of the bag is amazing, absolutely amazing. It smells like a really good spice cake, or something along those lines. In other words, it’d be good enough to eat as is if it weren’t just tea leaves. Once steeped it still 3BBDC51A-9135-4274-9F69-702D3B294567smells spicy, but the colour of this tea is what will grab your attention. Red Velvet Cake was the first thing that I thought of when I saw the colour. It’s a very rich red colour that’s just lovely. What else is in this tea? The packet says it’s rich in currants, hibiscus, and has notes of cinnamon and licorice root, all of which are organic. It also includes natural plum flavouring. The resulting tea is warming and definitely qualifies as a dessert tea. Thankfully, it’s caffeine free so having it later in the afternoon isn’t a problem. The flexibility of this blend is a plus. If you like mulled cider or wine, you can use this blend for that purpose as well.

I greatly enjoyed this tea and will hate to run out of it. Part of me would like to just put it in a nice little bowl so I can smell it all the time. That would be a waste of good tea though, so I’ll just satisfy myself with a sniff every now and then when making a cup isn’t convenient. It’s a good thing that sniffing tea isn’t illegal in the privacy of your own home. Otherwise…

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A Coconut Nut Here…

I’ve not been drinking enough green tea lately. I used to have a cup first thing every morning, but once I started babysitting I stopped. Mainly, because I barely function at 5:30 a.m., so making and drinking tea at that too-early-for-me time just doesn’t happen. Only occasionally have I made green tea on a weekend morning because weekend mornings are for relaxing and having a good pot of breakfast tea.
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Sunday morning though found me trying a new-to-me green tea that I’d picked up at HomeGoods last week. While I’ve purchased other Heath & Heather flavours over the past several years, mainly from teadog, I’d not tried this one. Seeing that it had coconut I definitely wanted to give it a try. One, because I love coconut, and two, because coconut is often rather sweet on its own. I can gladly say that I was not disappointed with this tea.

I tried it first without sweetener and liked it well enough that had I more willpower I could have skipped adding honey, but I didn’t so in went the honey, but not as much as usual so give me a gold star for that. The addition of honey made this nice cup of tea a definite must-buy-more-when-I-run-out tea. The flavour of the green tea was delicate, not at all grassy, and the coconut made for a palate-pleasing addition. I only made one cup, as that’s all the time I had for indulging, but I wish I’d been able to make a whole pot and had my usual three cups. You can bank on the fact that the next time I have this tea that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

This tea contains 97% organic green tea plus natural flavouring. While it doesn’t contain the meat of the coconut, I can’t help but think that it will still provide many of the benefits of coconut. Coconuts are high in MCTs and MCT oil is often recommended in Keto recipes. The fat in coconuts is a medium-chain fatty acid, which is better absorbed as compared to animal saturated fat, and is said to have an anti-inflammatory effect. Reducing inflammation is a big part of why a person changes to Keto. Coconuts are also high in manganese. Manganese is essential for bone health as well as the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and cholesterol. Another plus is their richness in copper and iron. These elements help form red blood cells as well as selenium which is an important antioxidant that provides protection for your cells.

Heath & Heather has been around since 1920. They work alongside the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (NIMH) to promote the safe use of medicinal herbs. Having 100 years of creating “herbal remedies” under your belt is a pretty good claim to fame. Their other tea that I try to keep in my stash is their Echinacea tea for those times when I catch a cold. All in all though I’d say I have at least eight different tea blends, probably more if I were to take an actual count. Each of these blends has its own health benefits. Some might sound odd, like Aloe Vera or Nettle for example, but those plants were put here for a reason. Why shouldn’t their healing properties be used for just that purpose? Waste not, want not…

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Photo Credit: Heath & Heather

I Do Love a Good Mystery

As mentioned before, I greatly enjoy reading mysteries. It has something to do with the need to have my brain in constant motion in order to keep myself from becoming bored. Yes, I do read the occasional romance novel, but they’re almost always so hokey and unrealistic that slogging through a whole one is quite an effort. No, give me a good who-dun-it, and I’m happy. What has this to do with tea, you’re wondering? Well, on one of my orders to Plum Deluxe I decided to add their Blender’s Choice option to my cart. I paid just $5 for a tea blend of their choosing, thereby saving $2 and giving myself a surprise to which I could look forward.A4690D4B-A2BA-451A-8778-9D9EBB97A824

Was the surprise worth waiting for? Yes! I received Soul Warmer Herbal Tea. What a perfect tea to drink in the winter when your soul, as well as the rest of you, needs warming up. To the all organic rooibos base they add apple pieces, cocoa nibs, orange peel, calendula, blue cornflowers, hazelnut and chestnut essences, and caramel extract. Is that not a lovely tea?
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The aroma that comes from the packet is enticing. You know immediately that you’re in for a treat. The resulting tea is sweet, especially with a teaspoon of honey added to it. It reminded me of something from the moment I took a sip. It took a while to decide just what though. I finally decided it was kettle corn. I love kettle corn! I try to buy a bag, or two, every year when we go to Gatlinburg. Now I don’t have to wait a whole year between bags of popcorn, I can just indulge in a cup of this tea. Best of all, it’s caffeine free, so I can indulge both day and night. What a win-win that is!

Am I reading a good mystery right now? The answer to that question is also, yes! I’m reading Death of an Honest Man by M. C. Beaton. The main character in this series is Hamish Macbeth, and he always has a couple of murders, usually connected to one another, to solve. The location is one that I’d love to visit one day, the Scottish Highlands. If I ever got to go I’d probably run into relatives there, or at least somewhere in Scotland. Drinking this tea while reading my mystery book has been a great way to spend the weekend. Oh, yes, one more thing. I’m doing all of this while sitting at the beach. Can you say, “Ahhhhhh…”

How to Go 500 Miles

As the weekend nears we sometimes need a bit of a boost to make it through Friday or WP-500 Mile Chaiaccomplish all that’s had to wait on getting done until Saturday. If you find yourself in that position, allow me to recommend 500 Mile Chai by The Tao of Tea. It is a wonderful Chai tea, high in caffeine and full of flavour. It’s one of the teas that I try to keep on hand at all times. When I run out, I buy more.

The story behind this tea is interesting. It is said to have come about because late night truck drivers in India would ask for a cup of Chai strong enough to get WP-500 Mile Chai Loosethem another 500 miles. The variety of tea most often used for Chai is cut, tear, and curl (CTC). This particular offering contains 100% organic ingredients including black tea leaves, cinnamon, dried ginger, cloves, and cardamom. The addition of milk and sugar, or in my case honey, makes this a perfect tea choice when your energy flags and you still have many miles to go before you sleep.

NOTE: There are no affiliate links in this post. All links are given for reference and ease of use only.

Photo Credit: The Tao of Tea

A Peach of a Tea with a Bit of Ginger

We southerners love our peaches in every possible configuration be it in cobblers, preserves, ice cream, fried pies, regular pies, with cream or sliced up straight off the tree. Of course the best time for peaches is in the summer, which it isn’t right now. So, what’s a body to do when you have a hankerin’ for juicy peaches in the middle of winter? Why, pull out the peach tea of course. In my case it’s peach tea that has been paired with ginger. Talk about a match made in heaven… This combination definitely is just that, a bit of heaven to get you through the cold dreary days of winter.

Ginger Peach tea from The Tao of Tea is a loose leaf black tea to which has been added 2FB9DA89-BABF-43BA-A45C-BB7FA1F23E19organic dried ginger, calendula flower petals, and natural peach essence. Even if there weren’t a label on the front of the packaging you’d know with one whiff what kind of tea you’d be enjoying once the steeping was done. The peach taste is there along with a bit of spiciness that’s imparted to it by the ginger. And yes, I do add honey. While I’ve only ever indulged in the hot version, you can also enjoy this tea iced. No wonder this blend is one of their most popular.

As I’ve mentioned before, I almost always make three cups of tea when drinking a black tea. I also mentioned that I’m a very slow drinker. I can nurse a little pot of tea until it’s tepid, even though it’s been covered, and has to be warmed up in the microwave. I know, not good. However, I learned after the first couple of times brewing up this particular tea not to leave the leaves in the pot for an excessively long time else that last cup of tea would be quite bitter, as in it would set my teeth on edge.

Then one day while shopping at HomeGoods, I ran across an interesting tea pot that I’d never seen before (I don’t get out much you see). It caught my attention not only because it was on sale but also because my husband had just started using a French press for his coffee and loved the difference it made in the flavour. This little teapot looked to be essentially the same thing as a French press but D372932D-C2D0-4452-87D6-8A66BF724F97definitely meant to be used with tea based on the shape. It’s made by Bodum and is the Assam style. Although I’ve only ever used it when making Ginger Peach tea, I absolutely love this little teapot! Of course, I was a bit intimidated by it at first because I didn’t want to ruin a pot of tea. Thankfully, I worried for nothing because the tea that came out of that little pot was perfect, absolutely perfect. Best of all, even after leaving the leaves in the infuser for the duration of my longer-than-normal tea time there was no bitter taste from this Ginger Peach blend. Hallelujah! To say I was a happy camper would be an understatement.

Why does this teapot make such a big difference? It’s because the steeping of the leaves ends once the plunger is pushed down and traps the leaves in the bottom of the infuser where the walls are solid. This keeps the tea from getting stronger because the leaves are no longer in contact with the water/tea. Another plus is that you can resteep the tea later if you like. I’ve never done that, so I can’t tell you how well the tea retains its flavour, but according to The Tao of Tea’s website, this particular blend can be steeped up to three times.

As for caffeine, it’s a bit more than moderate, so I tend to drink it no later than 3492448A-9DDB-4A24-81B0-6D51555919003:00. While I do also have their Peach blend, without the added ginger, I much prefer the Ginger Peach. There’s just something about the addition of ginger that takes a nice peach tea to an amazing peach tea. In my humble opinion, this tea is absolutely peachy keen.

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Rainy Days Get Me Down

Today was a very wet, cloudy, and windy day. The weather was absolutely awful until late afternoon when it turned to just yucky and uninspiring. I’ve decided that the reason why gray has never been a colour I liked is because of days like this.

Between thunderstorms, tornado watches and warnings, and an excess of rain, which 998F330D-0EF9-4B99-82D7-95489BCF9508caused flooding in many low-lying areas, my nerves were a bit on the frayed side. Thankfully, I had the perfect tea blend from Plum Deluxe in my stash – Rainy Day Puerh. What better way to correct the gloomies than with a hot cup of tea that was made for, or at least named after, a rainy day?

This organic, fair-trade tea blend lets you know the moment you open the pouch that you’re in for a treat as the aroma is wonderful – very spicy, very warming, very reassuring. Once you read the ingredients list you’ll better understand why. Puerh 82C2725B-2D7C-49BE-ABF2-31935FF0DD7Cis used as the base to which cinnamon bark, orange peel, ginger root, anise, safflower, and sweet cinnamon extract are added. The resulting tea is one that gives you a lift and almost makes you glad it’s raining outside so that this lovely tea can be enjoyed inside all snug and warm. Even though it is a sweet tea, I still add honey to my cup. It may just be me, but I think the addition of honey just helps to smooth everything out so that no one spice sticks out above the rest nor does the earthiness of the Puerh dominate the whole. While I’ve not tried it, the notes on their website say this tea blend, “Whips up into a beautiful chai latte or even a cocktail.”

Since I’m almost out of this tea I think I just might take advantage of their special offer. Between now and January 31 you can enjoy 12% off of three or more of the same tea, no coupon needed. If you still feel the need to de-stress after all the holiday festivities, they’re offering Coconut Ginger Soother for $5 this month. And you can’t beat the free sample that you get with every order. I love these little freebies because they’re the perfect size to include in a card to a friend or someone who needs a bit of a boost, assuming I don’t keep it for myself in the event that it’s a blend I’ve not purchased before.

When you go to the Plum Deluxe website, be sure to sign up for their newsletter. They’re pretty short and sweet, and there’s almost always a recipe or two that sounds tempting. Besides, you wouldn’t want to miss word of their new offerings or specials.

Speaking of specials, I’m going to have to try their Chinese New Year Herbal blend since it’s the year of the rat and I’m a rat according to the Chinese Zodiac. I’ll have to get on the stick and get my order in though because this blend is a limited edition only for the month of January. I feel a shopping spree coming on for tomorrow!

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Red Bush Chai

Back in 2005, a fellow quilter told me that she loved Chai tea. I’d not heard of it before then and doubted that I’d like it. I just wasn’t as adventuresome then as I am now. So, I never bothered pursuing her suggestion to get myself a cup at the local coffee shop which, by the way, is no longer in business.

About four or five years ago another quilting friend made a cup of tea for me at a Christmas party. I loved it but thought it was a very spicy hot chocolate to begin with, so when I found out that it was actually Chai tea I was shocked to say the least. I couldn’t believe that I’d not followed through all those years ago on the first quilting friend’s suggestion which would have meant that I could have been enjoying Chai tea for many more years than I have. Needless to say, I’ve made up for lost time ever since that Christmas party and have several Chai selections in my tea stash.

The one I’d like to share with you today was purchased at HomeGoods. It’s a Red Bush Chai which is 100% organic and hails from The Tao of Tea. The description on the label says that it is, “A non-traditional blend of Chai. Made with caffeine-free South African Rooibos and uplifting spices.” The spices include cinnamon, spearmint, cloves, and cardamom, all of which are organic. This blend is very warming and one that I tend to have in the evening, especially when the weather is cold. Having said that though, I don’t limit my Chai drinking only to cold weather. I’ve been known to indulge in mid-summer when it’s both hot and humid outside just because I needed the comfort that comes from this spiced tea. I do add milk and honey to my Chai regardless of which variety from my stash I choose to make.

In addition to enjoying tea, I also love to read. I’m pretty picky about what I read though and tend to stick with a handful of authors. I’m not sure how I came to start reading the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books by Alexander McCall Smith, although I’m sure it was probably because the one genre I read the most is mysteries and these are mystery type books without lots of dead bodies. The first book I read was while we were vacationing in Ft. Morgan a couple of years ago. The book I had on hand started somewhere in the middle of the series, but I absolutely fell in love with the main character, Precious Ramotswe. While I’ve never been to Botswana, I was struck by just how similar her upbringing and mindset was to my own. Who’d of thought that a fictional character from Africa could have so much in common with a girl raised in the Appalachian Mountains of Southwest Virginia. The fact that I could so easily relate to her character is probably what hooked me on this series and has caused me to collect almost all of the books that have been published to date, in hardback no less. Of course, it didn’t hurt any when I read that she loves Red Bush tea. How could you not like a character who loves Red Bush tea? She drinks it at a regular time each day but also when she needs to do some thinking. The relaxing effect of this tea is definitely conducive to reflection which is why I sometimes turn to it myself when lots of thinking on an issue is needed. Sadly, the pot I had tonight finished off my bag of tea. Were it not for the fact that I have a couple of bags of Rooibos in my stash already that I could doctor up I’d go buy another bag of this exact tea. Yes, it’s that good and has been one of my favourites ever since the first cup.

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