Category Archives: Review

Soon! Reviews on Golden Moon Teas!

We are pretty excited over here at headquarters (aka my kitchen), before the holidays the lovely folks at Golden Moon Teas asked us to try out some of their blends. Being a big fan of their Vanilla Jasmine Black Tea blend of course I said yes we would love too.

We asked them to send us Orchid Temple Oolong, Imperial Formosa Oolong, Napalese Afternoon Tea, Kashmiri Chai and the Darjeeling. I am looking forward to trying the oolong tea since I have not had very many other then a basic Oolong from the Japanese food section at the Berkeley Bowel.

So check back soon and we will let you know what we think.

Cheers!

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Filed under Chai, darjeeling, oolong, Review, tea

Tisane Thursday: Fennel 9July2009

In the hills near where I grew up, the air is filled with the smell of the fennel which grows wild all over.  When I would walk with my grandfather, we would pick the tips and rub them between our hands and breathe in the smell.  I still pick fennel and smell it when I walk by.

Fennel seeds are used medicinally for ailments of the digestive tract.  Most notably to to treat gas, bloating, stomach pain and nausea.  Up to five cups of infusion a day can be used according to The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants by Chevallier and one cup of water needs about 1/2 tsp of seeds.

I was lucky enough to find a commercial source of fennel tisane to simplify all the measuring business.  Bloated or not… I think that this stuff is delicious, and if you like licorice, you might too!

Teekanne, the company which invented the flow-through tea bag, sells a very tasty boxed fennel tisane which I picked up at a neat shop in Berkeley, CA called  The Country Cheese and Coffee Market.

Fennel has a strong taste like anise or licorice and is probably not for everyone, but if you decide to try it, I hope you think it makes a great cuppa!

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Filed under herbal infusion, medicinal, Review, tea, tisane

Cuppa with Mum and Dad

Sorry for skipping the Tisane Thursday this week, but I am out of town and couldn’t find a chance to post yesterday.  Today, however, my brother vacated and his computer was up for grabs!

I decided to share with you all the teapot gadget that my parents use for their cuppa since I have searched in vain for a tea room or tea house in the area and have come up short.  (The one I had discovered via the internet before leaving is apparently only alive in memory).

But on to the tea!

My brother, knowing my parents love of the stuff, found a neat little tea infuser to give to them a couple of years ago. 

He picked one up from Think Geek, but I have heard tell that you could procure one from Amazon.com, or directly from adagio teas.  Replacement filters are also available.  As for the device itself, my parents love it and I think it would be perfect for anyone who likes loose tea, but doesn’t want to fiddle with any extra implements.

After the tea has finished steeping, just place the device over the top of your favorite cup (pick a big one or be sure to watch how full it’s getting) and soon you’ll be enjoying some great tea!

One of the neatest things about this gadget is that the feet on the bottom keep the tea from gushing out before it is placed on top of your favorite cup.  Another great feature is that since it is all plastic, you can place it in the microwave and the dishwasher.  So, if you aren’t adverse to plastic, this thing could be just the ticket!

Have a great weekend everyone!  Be sure to enjoy some tea.

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Filed under Review, tea, tea ware

Tisane Thursday: Mint 25June2009

Hello readers!  We’re trying a new regular topic: tisanes or herbal infusions or herbal tea… depending on where you’re from.

Don’t get me wrong, I love tea… and the stronger the better!  However, if you’re anything like me, you don’t make it home until later in the evening and you hesitate to drink a caffeinated beverage as you wind down and get ready for bed.  I have accumulated a hefty supply of different tisanes over the years and I have really enjoyed many.  I would love to share some with you by way of another interest of mine, medicinal plants.  Keep in mind, however, that I am not a professional herbalist and I am never giving medical advice.  My goal is to let you know how good that tisane you’ve enjoyed for years is for you!

For starters: peppermint!

 

Peppermint has been around for at least three thousand years, and was used by Egyptians, Greeks and Romans prior to becoming popular in Europe in the 1700’s.  Medicinally, peppermint is used to treat gas, bloating and colic but peppermint can also be effective in other ways.  The next time you reach for your Bengay, IcyHot or Vick’s Vaporub, I hope you remember that menthol, which has a cooling, anesthetic affect on the skin, makes up a major part of peppermint.  Other mints such as spearmint are related to peppermint and have similar, though milder, medicinal properties.

For digestion, an herbalist might prescribe peppermint to be taken as an infusion several times a day.  Dried or fresh peppermint can make a nice tisane, and in general more fresh than dried is needed for a given volume of water.  The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants by Chevallier recommends 1 tsp dry or 2 tsp fresh per cup, but peppermint tisane can be made to your taste.  I have a friend who shoves as much fresh mint as will fit into a teapot to make her tisane.  I find a slight difference between the taste of tisane from fresh vs. dried peppermint, but both are satisfying.

Many blends that include peppermint (and other mints) are available commercially and quite enjoyable.  My favorite Celestial Seasonings tea blend contains decaffeinated green tea, peppermint and just a touch of some other herbs.  It is perfect for an evening drink and hits the spot when I have a cold.  It is called Candy Cane Lane and although only available seasonally in the grocery store, I was able to pick some up on my recent trip to the factory in Boulder, CO

The flavor comes mostly from the peppermint (my palate has trouble distinguishing the flavor from the green tea) but the blend has much less of what I would call “raw plant” flavor than straight peppermint.  I also find the finish to be much smoother than straight peppermint, which can have a delicious, but strong, flavor as you swallow.

However you drink your peppermint, it makes quite a satisfying cuppa.

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Filed under Bagged, Green Tea, herbal infusion, herbal tea, medicinal, Review, tisane

Libby’s Boulder Tea Adventure Part II: The Boulder Dushanbe Tea House

This past week I was lucky enough to find myself in Boulder, CO on a business trip with a couple of free afternoons.  In addition to plenty of natural beauty, Boulder can be a tea-lover’s paradise!

As nice as the Celestial Seasonings tour was, the real jewel of Boulder’s tea scene was yet to come.  Credit where credit is due, however, and I might not have made it there without the address on the pamphlet that came from Celestial Seasonings!  After dragging my coworker/conference-mate to a place famous for herbal tea, I was looking forward to satisfying both of our black tea habits.

The Dushanbe Teahouse was given to Boulder by their sister city, the capital of Tajikistan, Dushanbe in 1990.  The hand carved structure was sent disassembled and the tea house opened on May 15, 1998 after being reassembled by the Tajik artisans who also made the journey.  It is the only tea house of its kind in the Western Hemisphere and is also the largest tea house outside of Asia.  The building is stunning, but we came for tea, and boy, was it worth it!

In addition to appetizers, entrées and desserts, the privately owned restaurant that operates in the teahouse has an impressive tea menu that consists of over 100 premium loose-leaf teas, many exclusive.  Each pot of tea holds about 2.5 cups and is about 3-4 dollars.  Considering that one can pay almost 2 bucks for a mediocre teabag in tepid water at a coffee shop, I was pretty excited!

We picked Puerh Imperial, Tun Ting Oolong and Silver Needle (white tea) and snacked on hummus and samosas while we enjoyed the fleeting sunshine (with a dead camera battery, unfortunately). When the tea came to the table, our waitress Jen brought a timer and let us know how long to let the teas steep.  I enjoyed the puerh and even my coworker, who doesn’t usually go for that kind of thing, said that she would drink it again.  The white tea was pleasant and light, but that oolong was amazing!

After staring at the foreboding sky for three pots worth of tea, we decided that we’d pushed our weather luck for far too long.  Jen, who I can’t recommend enough, couldn’t have been nicer when we asked if it would be possible for us to move inside.  She got us a table in seconds and the tea and dessert we had ordered before fleeing the downpour was there to meet us when we got inside.

(The carvings on the walls and columns were amazing!)

For dessert, we ordered chocolate cake and gingerbread cake, (which came with delicious chai flavored ice cream) and Zao Bei Jian black tea.  The Zao Bei Jian was so excellent that my coworker (henceforth referred to as Kyla) parted with some $ to take a bag home with her.  The Dushanbe Teahouse also had lots of teapots to resist buying.

Being a knitter, I particularly liked this one:

We were so glad that we had gone to the Dushanbe Teahouse.  In fact, Kyla and I liked it so much… we came back the next day (equipped with a charged camera battery)!  Nerds, huh?

On our second trip we decided to try lunch, I had some curry and Kyla had some pulled pork that she said hit the spot ( it smelled pretty good, but as a veggie, I didn’t go there :p  ).  For tea we chose two oolongs, Jinxuan (Formosa) and Ti Kuan Yin.  The Jinxuan was not at all what I had expected, it tasted vegetal like some green teas, but had a nice sweet flavor as well.  The word that came to my mind as I sipped was raw, and it was refreshing.  The Ti Kuan Yin was quite tasty too.

For dessert we had the Ricotta Butter Cake which was far and away the best dessert we tried there.  It was so good that we ate half before I had the presence of mind to take a picture!

The Dushanbe Teahouse was a real treat.  If I lived in Boulder… I would basically never leave!  The food was pretty good, but I really enjoyed having a good place to sit and sip new, delicious tea with a friend (in or out of the weather!).

But don’t take my word for it, check it out!

Dushanbe Teahouse

1770 13th Street

Boulder, CO 80302.

303-442-4993

open for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner

tea parties and afternoon tea can be arranged by reservation

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Filed under Green Tea, oolong, puerh, Review, tea, Tea House, White Tea

SweeTea’s Tea House

This is a re-post from Liz’s Blog about a visit we made in March to SweeTea’s Tea House in San Mateo. Enjoy!

I must admit, as much as I love tea I had never gone to an English style tea shop, until last weekend. My friend Libby also shares my love of tea and last weekend she took me out for brunch at a tea shop in San Mateo called SweeTea’s. Libby had been given a gift certificate so we got to make a morning of it.

The shop is small with about 4-5 tables so it feels very cozy and intimate. Each table had different sets of plates and cups, ours where a reproduction of a Royal Albert pattern of red and yellow roses. I ordered the Afternoon tea that came with two sandwiches, three petite desserts, seasonal fruit and a scone. Which sounds like a lot but the when they say petite they mean it and the scones was half as large as you normally find at a coffee shop, it ended up being just about right. Of course the food is the one thing I forgot to take a picture of.

We got to try two different types of tea from their list and we opted for the house breakfast blend and a Darjeeling. The house blend was a really nice smooth tea, not too acidic and nice amber color (see photo above). The Darjeeling was nice but it did not have a very strong flavor and we tend to like our tea on the stronger side, Libby is a big Pu Er fan just to give you an idea. We had a good time being silly and girly and next we want to try an Asian Tea house. Look for more tea adventures over the spring and summer.

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Filed under darjeeling, English Breakfast, petite fours, Review, scones, tea