Monday, June 28, 2010

Tea Taste - The Republic of Tea 100% White Tea with Honeysuckle

For the record, let me state that I am a lover of all things from The Republic of Tea; I have not been disappointed with any of my purchases either directly through them or through a grocery store. This company takes the time to carefully select the finest ingredients to make blends of tea that will soothe one’s palate and/or mind and I thank them gratefully for it. Being an author while having a full time job can sometimes weigh down on the mind, body, and soul, so a good cup of tea can do the trick to alleviate stress while getting back in focus. In short, the Republic of Tea is one of my happily admitted weaknesses. In fact, I just ordered another canister of tea from them that will be reviewed sometime in the not too distant future.

White Tea, according to many studies, is supposed to have the highest levels of antioxidants and is also a major supporter in boosting one’s immune system. It is also the most delicate of teas, since the most delicate parts of the camellia sinensis is carefully plucked and used to make white tea. The tea used in this particular blend comes from China’s Fujian province, located on the SE coast of the country -

When I purchased this tea some time ago, I made sure that the leaves steeped in water for a maximum of 40 seconds; any longer than that and the tea becomes quite bitter while the liquid is a funny shade of gold. This liquid should be the colour of light honey while smelling faintly of clean grass and honeysuckle. This is a good tea to drink during the spring and summer months since it is so delicate and will not weigh heavily on the stomach. It’s also good to drink either in the morning or in the afternoon, depending on your mood.

First Sip: After letting my tea bag steep for 40 seconds, I remove the bag, do my appropriate “tea ritual”, then take a quick sip. The flavor, as mentioned before, is truly quite delicate and refreshing, while the honeysuckle is apparent but not overpowering. This tea, when prepared properly, has a no brainer simple good taste and a chance to momentarily pause from the day’s chores to relax and “get quiet”. This is a good “get quiet” tea. The honeysuckle reminds me of a childhood memory; when, at a young age, I used to take honeysuckle blossoms and drink the small but delicious nectar. The taste lingered on my tongue even after my last flower for the day; thanks to Republic for re-creating such a delightful taste. My cup is now empty and I am wondering if I should prepare another cup. Maybe. Possibly. I probably will (smile).
Rating: A+

For the record, although I have written only three tea reviews so far, I hope that the people who are reading my words will go out and try these blends either in mild curiosity or adding to their own “library” of tea. I am a passionate person when it comes to two things – books and tea – so I hope that my words of insight on blends I have discovered will affect you, the readers, in a similar fashion. Thanks for reading and look forward to my next review of books and tea soon!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tea Taste - Numi Chocolate Puerh Tea

I have recently begun reading the Dystopian classic 1984 by George Orwell and so far, I am overwhelmed with questions and thoughts regarding this possible future of mankind. Are we destined to exist under the watchful eye of Big Brother or perhaps something more optimistic? Who knows but I am only 100 pages into the novel; I am sure my questions will either cease or continue (probably the latter).

In the meantime, my cup of freshly made Numi Chocolate Puerh Tea sits on my computer desk, sending forth its scents of chocolate and spices. According to Numi, Puerh tea has been reported to “support healthy metabolism and boost energy, help with weight management, improve circulation and digestion, and help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Puerh tea is an ancient fermented healing tea with a deep malty flavour and 32% more antioxidants than green tea”.

Wow. Simply wow.

Numi Tea has also offered a challenge to people who order their Puerh teas: try it for two weeks to notice that one’s life(and health) will change for the better.

Well, I could never resist a decent challenge. I throw down my purple glove at the feet of Numi Tea and say, “You’re on. Bring it.”

First Sip: I can smell chocolate and spices in my cup, so this is a good sign. My first two quick sips (the tea is still hot) remind me of a weak hot chocolate with a bit of a kick. Wow, the third sip has me convinced: I like it! Apparently, this puerh blend is used in place of coffee in the morning. I can honestly see why. It’s really, really good! The spices are apparent without being too much and the hint of chocolate is just enough as to tease my tongue with promises of more if I just continue drinking the cup. Excellent replacement for coffee; sometimes I do enjoy a good cup of the java from time to time. However, I can see myself drinking more of this puerh blend than coffee. Have coffee and I finally parted ways for good? It might appear to be that way.

I have also ordered a box of Numi’s Magnolia Puerh Tea which is supposed to be a blend of green and black teas plus added flavours. I’ll save that one for another review but I did sneak a cuppa last night – WOW.

Rating: A+

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tea Taste - Lipton Green Tea Superfruit Purple Acai and Blueberry

Being a lover of tea, it does not take much to persuade me into purchasing a “new” blend of tea. It can be packaging, the description, the tea company or what is inside of that little bag. So it was that I had no problem in purchasing Lipton’s Superfruit Green Tea with Purple Acai and Blueberry. In all honesty, I am not too hyped up on the whole “ superfruit” thing but I could always be wrong. Tea, on the whole, is good for you no matter what kind you drink. So, while I am typing out my first tea rating blog entry, my cup of the tea in question sits next to my hands, waiting for me to enjoy the first sip. Although I love purchasing and drinking tea, I also make sure that I give out bags to my fellow tea lovers both here at work and while I am out and about in Memphis. Sharing tea, in my humble opinion, is a good way to make new friends, reestablishing connections old ones, and teaching newbies about the ways of the camellia sinensis. I guess this is why I have begun blogging about my own tea experiences; perhaps someone out there will take my advice(or not) and begin their own life of a Tea drinker.
Lipton, to some tea lovers, is not seen as a serious tea company; to them, anything that is so mass produced and so readily available is not worth the hot water and sweetener. I tend to disagree; tea is tea no matter whose label is on the box or on the bag. I have had Lipton’s teas before and have not been disappointed yet. Hopefully that will be the case with this green tea blend for I must admit that I am kind of intrigued as to how the flavor will be. Too fruity or too grassy? I’ll let my tongue decide.
First Sip: Although the tea’s colour is of a pale gold, the taste is actually not bad. The blueberry was not overpowering but could not place my finger on the acai; I do find it amusing, however, that although acai is part of the title, it is not listed as one of the ingredients unless if you count the “flavours from natural sources” as being the acai part. With every sip, I can taste more and more of the blueberry mixed with the standard delicate green but still no acai. I have had teas with acai as one of the ingredients and the taste of the Amazonian fruit was quite evident. However, not so much here but the tea still has a good flavor and it is a blend that I will purchase again in the not too distant future.

Rating: B+

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Book Review - For All The Tea in China: How England Stole the World's Favourite Drink and Changed History by Sarah Rose

Tea is considered to be the second most popular beverage in the world after water. In today’s world, the choices are endless: almost anyone can have black tea, red tea or rooibos, sacred but still satisfying white tea, and even the popular green tea. Tea companies now create blended flavours to satisfy even the most discriminating of palates, and even iced tea has come a long way in its chic and admiration by hot and thirsty people. Yet, tea has a dirty, murderous, and unsavoury history, one that not too many people know about while reading their history books in school. Sarah Rose, author of the book For All The Tea In China: How England Stole the World’s Favourite Drink and Changed History, shed some light on this past for all to see and perhaps appreciate their morning cup of Earl Grey a little more. Within the pages of this slim book is the story of a Scottish botanist named Robert Fortune and his tale of how he both initially unsuccessfully and finally successfully shipped camellia sinensis from China to his beloved England amid opium wars, backhanded deals, and growing tensions between England, China, and India through the highly powerful East India Company. It is a story of how one man braved the highly stacked odds to give his fellow Brits a taste of the East through a cuppa.
As a journalist, Rose adds her own appreciation for the East by making her work not only a book about the history of tea but also a book of traveling to exotic lands and the desire with it. One feels as though they are standing next to Fortune and his Chinese assistants as they travel deeper into the heart of China in search of rare tea specimens for the glory of England. One can smell the breezes scented with fragrant flowers only found in China as well as the scent of unwashed or opium soaked bodies, the mud and blood from the sick and dying. Rose also does a thorough job in showing the readers the tensions between the British and everyone else; to them, they were seen as the top of the evolutionary chain amid the “savages” of India and China even though it was the Chinese that had a far superior civilization, philosophy and way of life, not to mention that what the British so desperately wanted was literally in their back yard. The Chinese thought so little (or much?) of the British that they even laced their shipped out green tea with a poison that made the tea “look” green for its British customers (why the British drink more black than green tea today). Even the Americans wanted a part of the tea craze since the Boston Tea Party but due to mitigating circumstances, remained far behind everyone else in their mad dash to China and later India and the creation of Darjeeling teas, considered to be the “champagne” of all teas (and it is!). This is not just a history book but also a travel guide to the past that romanticized and realistically showed a peek into a world that thankfully no longer exists. Thanks to Rose, I now understand the importance of the Silver Needle White tea that I drink on a daily basis and why, yet again, the craze for all things tea has surged again with the Americans now leading the race. Thanks to men like Robert Fortune, people can now have their cup of Darjeeling without fear of war but rather a newfound respect for the leaves that assist in reaching their liquid paradise.