Sipping on green tea (@Teavivre)

I recently received green teas to review from Teavivre.  So many green teas.  Now I will tell you…green tea has NEVER been a favorite of mine.  I much prefer a black tea or pu-erh if I have the choice.  So I was a little nervous receiving so many green teas.  Now the company had sent me a sample of the teas I do like a few months back.  But something happened and I misplaced next to all of them.  But misplaced I mean my husband happened to them.

Anyway, I have these greens to try.  The only one I have had the chance to try is the Bi Luo Chun green tea.  The leaf is very fuzzy.  Weird way to describe it, bit it is also the best way to describe it.  The dry leaf smells like veggies.  No specific veggies come to mind, just a general veggie smell to them.

However, as the tea steeps (I brewed mine 30 seconds to a minute as I was using hot water from the water cooler) I get a smell of spinach.  Which is awesome, because I love spinach!  The taste is very smooth and there are some subtle hints of a fruity flavor, but I mostly tasted the spinach which was fine by me.

I’m glad I chose this one as my first tea to try of the bunch.  Looking forward to the others now.  While I would love to tell you I took pictures…well, I didn’t.  As I said I was at work.  I was lucky I had the time to make the tea!

Back to the leaf (@shortstouttea)

I will admit to being a poor tea drinker that last few weeks.  Somehow I’ve fallen back into drinking coffee (mostly in the morning).  Today I decided to do something about that.  I will admit that I still plan on drinking coffee…just first thing in the morning…at my house.  Because I can.

Once I get to work it is ALL about the leaf.  Sadly there isn’t a proper kettle there and I don’t plan on bringing mine back and forth.  So I will have to play with the steep time when making anything other than black tea.  Which worked pretty well today.  I have A LOT of tea at work.  But I chose to bring in two teas that I’ve had in the past, but never really gave enough time to – Jasmine Pearls and Silver Needle.  Both teas came from Short and Stout Tea Company  a new local spot here in the 518.  If you live anywhere near Albany you should check them out OR you can order online.

Right so I was drinking these two teas today:

Jasmine Pearls and Silver Needle

Jasmine Pearls and Silver Needle

I also brought in my bodum single cup brew thingy (I”m so not technical).  I also had to steep each tea about a minute due to only having the hot water dispenser at my disposal.  I tried the Jasmine Pearls first.  Double bonus here is you have re-steep this tea a few times.  I ended up with close to five steeps (and many bathroom breaks).  The Jasmine scent was front and center with this tea.  Which in the past has put me off because it was too much.  But here it was yes right up in your face, but also just the right amount of Jasmine.  Of course I also only used maybe ten pearls.  I ended up with a very yummy cup of tea to start my morning off with at work.

In the afternoon I switched to the silver needle.  Now this one has NEVER been a favorite.  I now think that was all in my steeping.  I’m very certain I over steeped it or had it prepared wrong if I ever ordered it out.  I steeped this one again for maybe a minute or less on the first steep.

So pretty.

So pretty.

What I ended up with was almost a sweet cup of tea.  Something I have never experienced with this tea before.  Usually I ended up with a hot mess of bitter.  But this time I sucked it down in seconds and went in for a second steep!  I will need to pick up a larger package of this tea when I stop back in for a visit.  I’ll also be sure to give them a proper review too!

I will tell you this Joyce and Matt know their tea!  Plus they love talking about tea…which I must say warms my tea loving heart.  Like I said…stop in, you will not be disappointed.

Reviews to do!

Yes, I’ve been a HUGE review slacker as of late.  Not entirely true.  But still true.  Do you follow?  Right let me try this again.  I have written the reviews for the teas sent to me by Teavivre, but I haven’t taken the time to clean them up and post them here.  So that’s my plan this week.

Stay tuned.

Also major apology that this blog has taken a back burner to EVERYTHING else in my life.  I do drink tea everyday, I just forget to post anything I’m drinking.  So there will be more reviews, hopefully a Taking Tea With__ (my computer ate the first one I had planned), and more place reviews too.  I really need a day off people.  Seriously.

What are you sipping on today?

What are you sipping on today?

The Whistling Kettle Tea Lounge & Cafe {Review @whistlingkettle}

Last Sunday two of my lady friends and I decided to pay a visit to the new Troy location of The Whistling Kettle.  I have to say it is a beautiful space to stay and enjoy their afternoon tea.  But it’s also a nice place to stop into grab a quick cuppa to go.  I love the Ballston Spa location.  But the layout of the new space is so much better.  I didn’t get a whole lot of photos this trip, because there were a lot of people in enjoying lunch.

Check out all that tea ware!

Check out all that tea ware!

You can even take home a Whistling Kettle Mug to enjoy your tea from at home!  Plus other tea making goodies.

You can even take home a Whistling Kettle Mug to enjoy your tea from at home! Plus other tea making goodies.

Last but not least in this area we have the sniffing bar!  Which I think it a great idea.  But like a friend said – it might have been better to have the herbals and rooibos teas near the bottom for the younger visitors who don’t need all that caffeine.

All their teas in one convenient space to sniff.

All their teas in one convenient space to sniff.  Also I LOVE the funky lighting.

I took all of the above photos after our lunch had been ordered.  I then had an opportunity to congratulate co-owner Kevin on a very sweet new space.  Of course like all things he told me there were still a few bugs to work out.  But this was only their third official day open so naturally everything wouldn’t be perfect.  But I will tell you his new staff in the Troy location know their stuff!  Our server was quick to notice my gluten free menu and ask if I had any questions.  I didn’t save my usual hope for a gluten free soup and other gluten free dessert choice.  One day I hope those two wishes become a reality.

That day I went with their crab salad with lemon butter tea sandwich, house salad with peppercorn ranch dressing, and flourless chocolate cake.  The bigger question was what tea would I have?  Today I went with their Golden Monkey tea.  The tea had a nice cocoa scent and a hint of cocoa on the finish too.  This is one of those teas I will be picking up once I finish off some of the current stash in my tea cabinet as it runs $18 for 4 oz.

Nom, nom, nom!

Nom, nom, nom!

Anyway, if you find yourself in Troy, stop in.  They are open seven days a week from 11am-6pm.  However, they may be looking to change the hours in order to stay open later for the dinner crowd on certain nights.  Stay tuned on their Facebook Page and website for more info and any change in hours.  And yes folks you can purchase all their teas in stores and online!  Enjoy!

Kiss Me Organics Matcha {Review}

A few weeks ago I was asked to review this product by Jessica at Kiss Me Organics, their product is only available via amazon.com $25 gets you 4oz. of matcha green tea as well as a copy of their recipe book sent to you electronically.  So I ordered my matcha with their voucher and it turned up in 2-3 days (as I used my free Prime shipping).  I then promptly got another cold.  Which put off my testing for a few days.  I will also admit that I have tried matcha in the past and I never liked it.  I even tried flavored matcha which I found even more gross.  I basically felt like I would be the I do not like it Sam I Am of matcha.  But then I tried it in a few things as you’ll read below.S

Over the last two weeks I’ve tried it in a variety of different things to get an extra boost of antioxidants and all that other good stuff that comes with green tea/matcha.  Now I haven’t baked or cooked anything with it yet.  Simply because I would have to cook it for myself as my husband is not a tea person.  So I may try to add some matcha to the cream cheese frosting I plan to use for cupcakes tomorrow.  Heck I may even had matcha to half of the batter and see what people at work think.

Anyway, you may be wondering WHAT I did use the matcha in?  I used it in several smoothies.  I LOVE one particular smoothie…I’ll even give you the recipe:

Yumm-o

Yumm-o

What you’ll need:

  • 1 banana (sliced)
  • 1-2 cups of regular silk milk or chocolate silk milk (I prefer the chocolate)
  • 1-2 tsps of PB2 powder (easier to clean up after unlike regular pb)
  • 1-2 tsps of matcha powder
  • 1/4 cup of boiling water
  • 1 cup of yogurt (any flavor – I use strawberry or vanilla)

First you’ll want to prepare your matcha.  Trust me I tried just sprinkling it into the blender and just ended up with a few clumps of matcha at the bottom of my glass.  So add 1/4 cup of boiling water to the matcha and either whisk with a fork or one of those battery operated frothers to mix it up well.  Add all other ingredients to the blender and pour the matcha in last.  Now blend, blend, blend!  Pour into a large glass and enjoy.  Seriously yummy.  I couldn’t really taste the matcha.  But I will say there was an extra pep to my step that day.

Another thing I like to add matcha to is iced green tea.  Which I know sounds silly and yes redundant.  BUT it was so good!  I had pre-made a pitcher of Gojiberry Blueberry Pomegranate Green Tea from The Whistling Kettle chilling in the fridge.  So I figured why not UP the antioxidant factor and add in some matcha?  Yes this probably like adding bacon to a ham sandwich, but whatever!  I did it and you know what?  It was delicious!  It was also VERY green.

Green is GOOD!

Green is GOOD!

This it the spot and yep gave me a little extra boost to get me through a very rainy/drab Friday.  Plus everyone who wandered past my desk was wondering WHAT I was drinking and some people responded “I HAVE TO TRY THAT!”  Others had no idea what matcha was…so I educated them and said I’d share IF I had anything left after this weekend.

In case you were wondering at home….

Matcha is green tea from the Camellia sinensis, but it a very fine powder version of the healthy
drink. Unlike other teas derived from Camellia sinensis, matcha has not been fermented. Matcha, like other varieties of green tea, can be harvested from anywhere in the world. But more than simply ground up green tea leaves, matcha is derived from tea leaves grown in the
shade so that the leaves achieve a dark green color, which gives matcha its magnificent amino
acids. – from the Kiss Me Organic electronic recipe guide

Now for the last recipe I tried direct from their handy dandy recipe guide – Matcha Latte.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 tsp. Matcha powder
  • ¾ cup almond milk (or soy or cow or goat milk)
  • ¼ cup boiling water
  • 1 tsp. agave syrup (optional)

Place matcha in the bottom of a coffee mug or other heat-proof cup.  Now I didn’t have any silk milk in the house.  I also had very little regular milk.  But what I did have was chocolate silk milk…so I used that instead.  Bring chocolate silk milk to a simmer in a small pot.  Whisk boiling water slowly with the matcha powder in the mug, then pour in almond milk.  Tip the cup to up the foam factor.  Sweeten with agave syrup if desired.  I did not use the agave as the chocolate silk milk covered sweetening up the drink perfectly.  I also wasn’t sure if adding the chocolate silk milk would be a poor idea or a delicious one.  I’m happy to say it was a success!

Yummy matcha in my tummy.

Yummy matcha in my tummy.

So after trying matcha in various drinks over the course of two weeks.  I must confess, I do like matcha, I do, I do.  So thank you, thank you Kiss Me Organics for contacting me to review your product.

Ethiopian Mocha Pu-erh ~ Tea Review {@whistlingkettle}

When I started my new job back in July ’13 I’d gotten into the nasty habit of drinking…coffee. I know, bad, bad. But I’ve been trying to kick that (slowly) by bringing some of my favorite teas to work and to make a thermos full of something before I leave in the morning.  I’ve also brought in some tea making goodies to make a proper cup.  As for the tea I’ve used to try and kick the coffee?  I’ve looked to pu-erh’s because they tend to be super strong like coffee.

No no!

No no!

So the other day I noticed that my local tea room (The Whistling Kettle) just started carrying a new blend – Ethiopian Mocha Pu-erh.  I knew I had to get my paws on some ASAP.  So I ordered 4oz. I know you might be thinking this is a bit much for a tea I’ve never tried before.  But I’ve only ever had one tea I bought in a large amount from The Whistling Kettle that I didn’t like.  Thankfully my order arrived yesterday and I’m just digging in today.

Contains Pu-erh tea and coffee! Think fine roasted coffee, dark chocolate, and a caramel finish when trying this for the first time, works well with a spot of milk.

Contains Pu-erh tea and coffee! Think fine roasted coffee, dark chocolate, and a caramel finish when trying this for the first time, works well with a spot of milk.

The dry leaves smell like coffee.  Not crummy coffee either, like top notch coffee that might be served in some swanky cafe in Paris.  The steeped leaf smells more like the earthiness I’ve come to expect from a pu-erh teas.  There are also hints of chocolate/mocha and caramel in the tea.  The mocha and caramel notes come out and mix really well with one another in this tea too.  Which I find to be really nice because flavors sometimes get lost in pu-erh teas.  So I was happy to find everything promised in this tea was delivered!

I think I found a nice way to get a little coffee and yet not feel guilty for not having tea!

Updates and Announcements

Hello new and old followers alike!

I’m sorry I’ve been quiet here for a bit.  But I was sick for close to a week and a half at the end of February/beginning of March…not good times.  But I did drink plenty of tea!

So I’m slowly getting back into the blogging.  I know I owe everyone a Taking Tea With and I’ll be working on that today in order to have it up to post on Tuesday.

I also am waiting on some tea to review from TeaVivre.

TeaVivre is a group of tea lovers and aficionados from China, Canada and France, who all share a passion for drinking great tea and appreciate the healthy life style it brings.  With all of us living in China, we frequently travel through the country visiting China’s tea plantations so we can track down only truly exceptional teas.  As a result we are able to bring to you – and us – the absolute highest quality Chinese teas that are, wherever possible, 100% organically grown and produced. – From the TeaVivre website

I’m hoping it will be clearing customs soon and into my cup as soon as it arrives.  I’ve received samples from them in the past and they have yet to disappoint in quality and quantity.

I’ve also received a request from Kiss Me Organics to review some matcha.  So I’ve got that to come to the blog as well!

PLUS the Troy, NY Whistling Kettle location will be opening on March 21st!  Naturally I’m hoping to get in there opening weekend to do a review of the new space!  Fingers crossed as I know it’s going to be a popular spot in downtown.

Now that I am finally on the mend I hope to be back to blogging here more.  Even if it’s a simple review from something in my tea cabinet.

Until next time…

Taking Tea With _____ to return!

On the old blog (by the same name) I did this thing called “Taking Tea With _____” and I filled it in usually with fictional folks I enjoy watching on the television.  Usually these tea trips were made possible with help by The Doctor and his Blue Box.  Sadly these posts have vanished into thin air like a puff of smoke.

Well, all that is about to change.  And hopefully they turn out as good as the old ones did.

So stay tuned as my tea taking tales will return sometime this week! 

Should have been doing this ALL day...

Should have been doing this ALL day…

Everything is coming up TEA!

As you can see I’ve been adding things here and there today to the blog.  I’m always open to suggestions.  There are not links to tea companies I like/have shopped with as well as bloggers I enjoy reading up on.  If you know of one I should add please let me know.

I’ve also been reclaiming my tea cabinet today – which now looks like this…

I need to find a place for the serving dishes...

I need to find a place for the serving dishes…

Everything is finally back in one place!  My tea heart is again happy.  Keep an eye out as I keep adding to the blog and tweaking things here and there too.  But now?  Tea and lunch!