Sunday, February 22, 2009

Mighty Leaf’s Chocolate Mint Truffle Review

Type: Rooibos
Origin: South Africa
Price: Sample (regular price - $9.95 for 15 pouches)
Vendor: Mighty Leaf
Brewing Method: 1 bag, 1 cup of filtered water, heated to 200°F-205°F, steeped for 5 minutes
Overall Score: 4.0 out of 5

Chocolate Mint Truffle is rooibos infused with chocolate and mint. I could smell the mint as soon as I opened the package. The fruity aroma of the rooibos followed. I couldn’t really smell any of the chocolate, but mint is an aroma that normally over powers anything else that is with it. The tea bag is about half full (or half empty) with the blend. The mix has a brownish-red color to it because of the dark rooibos, but I can see some flecks of the green mint.

The chocolate aroma comes out while the tea is steeping. The fruity rooibos and the mint are still present, but the aromas of all the ingredients finally came together with the addition of hot water. The liquor is a very deep red color, but in a deep cup such as the one in the picture, the liquor looks brown.

The taste is overall very mellow. I taste the sweet, fruity rooibos first and then the aftertaste is the mint with the rest of the rooibos. The plus side is that this tea is rather sweet with no bitterness at all. The down side is that I really don’t taste the chocolate in this blend, which is kind of disappointing because I love chocolate as much as the next person. I am surprised at how much of the rooibos flavor I get compared to the mint. My mouth feels cool, but the mint is no where near overpowering.

By the time I reached the bottom of the cup, I was still missing the chocolate. Even though the idea of mixing two loves - tea and chocolate - seems fantastic… in reality, I’m not sure if they will ever go together in the way we hope. But, what is to stop us from trying, right?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Yogic Chai's Mental Clarity Masala Chai Review

Type: Chai with black tea base
Origin: India
Price: Sample (regular price - $16 for 4 oz. Also available in 1oz, 2oz, or 16oz. packages)
Vendor: Yogic Chai
Brewing Method: Per Instructed - 1 tsp of loose leaves, 1 cup of filtered water, heated to 200-212F, steeped for 2 minutes, added ¼ cup of 2% milk (or milk of your choice), and steeped for another minute.
Overall Score: 4.7 out of 5

Mental Clarity Masala Chai is a blend of Assam black tea base, green cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, ginkgo, and tulsi (Holy Basil) – all organic ingredients. The dry mixture is full of color. The black Assam leaves provide a dark background for the green cardamom, cloves, and ginkgo and the white ginger and tulsi. The aroma is very gingery, with a faint smell of cinnamon and cloves.

The ginger and cinnamon aromas were brought out even more when the blend was steeping. The liquor was a very dark brown color until the milk was added and then it became a light tan color.

The taste is very smooth and creamy. This blend has the usual “pumpkin pie” flavor of chai. The ginger is up front, followed by a small amount of heat from the cinnamon, and then the aftertaste is the smoky Assam tea with the rest of the ginger. Although this is a hearty blend, the milk makes it very smooth. If you want a sweeter drink, try adding some maple syrup to take off the bite of the ginger and cinnamon.

Being a college student, I can really use a blend like this. In fact, I have been lagging on the blog posts lately because I’ve been so buried in homework. A swift kick from the gingko, along with a nice relaxing, warm cup of tea will hopefully get me motivated enough to tackle the rest of my assignments head on!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Yogic Chai's Stress Support Masala Chai Review

Type: Chai with black tea base
Origin: India
Price: Sample (regular price - $16 for 4 oz. Also available in 1oz, 2oz, or 16oz. packages)
Vendor: Yogic Chai
Brewing Method: Per Instructed - 1 tsp of loose leaves, 1 cup of filtered water, heated to 200-212F, steeped for 2 minutes, added ¼ cup of 2% milk (or milk of your choice), and steeped for another minute.
Overall Score: 4.7 out of 5

Stress Support Masala Chai is a blend of Assam black tea, green cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, ashwagandha, and tulsi (Holy Basil) – all organic ingredients. The dry mixture is very colorful. The green and white herbs stand out against the dark Assam tea leaves. The aroma is very warming. The smell of cinnamon, cloves, and ginger hit me as soon as I opened the package and it lingered all throughout the kitchen.

The cinnamon and ginger aromas are brought out more while the blend is steeping. It has that comforting “pumpkin pie” smell to it. The color of the liquor is a very dark reddish-brown. The milk lightened the liquor just a bit to a tan color.

The taste is creamy and smooth. I taste the ginger first, the rest of the ingredients kind of blend together into a refreshing herby mix, and then finally the black tea aftertaste lingers along with the ginger after I swallow.

Even with the milk added, this blend is very hearty. The ginger has a bit of a bite to it, but adding some maple syrup will cure that.

Ashwagandha and tulsi are the stress relieving additives in this blend. Ashwagandha is said to help resist stress and to sustain vital energy while tulsi restores balance to the body. (Check out more about what Yogic Chai has to say about these ingredients)

Along with those two helpful ingredients, it is always nice to take a little time out of your day to make a cup of tea, drink the warm, smooth blend, and relax.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Teashop Girls Book Review

I recently learned about a newly published book called The Teashop Girls by Laura Schaefer. After getting my hands on it, I ended up reading the entire 248 page book in one sitting because I simply could not put it down.

The Teashop Girls is a story about an 8th grade girl named Annie Green who has a passion for tea. This passion quite possibly comes from her grandmother’s love of a good cuppa and who also owns a teashop called The Steeping Leaf. Annie wants nothing more than to work along side her grandmother at The Leaf. However, after only a few days of being The Leaf’s new barista, the teashop is at risk from having its doors closed forever.

Annie and her BFF’s, Zoe and Genna, tackle the new task of “Operation Save The Leaf,” in between their already busy teenage lives of chores, homework, extracurricular activities, and, of course, boys.

This book is G-rated and written for ages 8-14. I think the author does a very nice job in keeping the reader’s interest. She even goes so far as using the teenage lingo such as “like” in the appropriate places.

Regarding the characters, there is someone for everyone to relate to in this book, whether you are a pre-teen or teen reading this book or a parent or adult reading it with your kids. Annie is the organized, on the ball, making lists for everything type of girl (kind of like me – what would the world be like without post-its?). Zoe is the athletic type with parents who expect nothing but the best. Gen is the aspiring artist/actress type who loves doing things in the most dramatic way possible.

The book has an overall warm tone to it. There are lessons to be learned as well as information about tea. A brief history of tea along with other facts, recipes, etc. are scattered around the book. I think this book is excellent for young readers who are interested in tea and/or food because it not only has tidbits about tea in the book, but also incorporates the characteristics of tea into the story. Even if you favor something else in your cup besides tea, the story itself is just plain cute.

The Official website of The Teashop Girls, which includes the author’s bio, excerpts, and more:

Sunday, February 1, 2009

My Coaches

This tea hobby of mine has opened doors to so many other learning opportunities. I have learned that tea is drunk in a variety of ways around the world. As I studied the tea habits of each culture, I found out more about each culture in general.

One region that has currently caught my interest is Japan. I really wanted to find out more about the Japanese culture, so I thought that a good first step would be to learn their language.

At the end of October, I bought the Nintendo DS game called “My Japanese Coach.” As of this moment I am on lesson 20 of 120. So far, I really like this program and think that it is a great way to learn Japanese.

The lessons have been really easy to understand. The program gives you ten to twenty words or phrases to learn each lesson. I think that is the right amount of information per lesson – it does not overwhelm you with too many new things to learn at one time.

Because Japanese characters are different from English characters, the program shows you how each word is written in Japanese characters and in English characters. The program also pronounces each word and you can hear the words over and over again (as many times as you want).

My favorite part of this program is the games that you play in order to learn the words or phrases. There are about ten different games to choose from. You start out with one game and unlock more as you progress through the lessons. There are two different games where you learn to write the Japanese characters – those are my favorite.

Another awesome feature about this program is that you can go back to previous lessons anytime to review what you have learned. Going back will not affect your current lesson.

This program rocks! Because the Nintendo DS is small enough to carry with you everywhere, you can pull it out while on the bus, in a waiting room, etc., do a lesson and you are good to go.

You could do the same thing with a book that teaches you Japanese, however, a nice feature about the NDS game is you can hear how the word is pronounced (headphones are great for this). A book can give you a written pronunciation, but there is still no way to know if you are pronouncing it right.

I received “My Chinese Coach” for Christmas. However, I have been too busy with school to tap into that one, yet.