Falling Out Of Love

Sometimes you find something and have an immediate connection. You think you are in love. You think your relationship will last an eternity.  Perhaps its that new pair of jeans that hugged every curve and fit you like a glove. Maybe it is that charm bracelet loaded with beautiful dangling charms. Or it could be that brand new tea that is bound to satisfy any craving you will ever have.

However, just as quickly you fall out of love. The jeans are too big, the charms get in the way, and the tea is no longer making you feel all warm and cozy inside.

For me, the jeans were from New York and Company, the bracelet was Anne Klein, and the tea was DAVIDs Forever Nuts. With my first sip, I thought I found my go-to caffeine-free tea. It was the perfect balance of cinnamon spice and apple sweetness. Just the right amount of nuttiness to really round out the cup. I was sure the 50 grams I bought would not last even a week because I just wanted more and more.

Unfortunately, my next cup a week later did not go down so smooth. The smell, once intoxicating and delicious, was strange and off-putting. I could barely keep down my first sip. The taste was the same but I was different. The initial infatuation had worn off and I was no longer swept up in the moment of something new. The love affair was over and all I wanted was for the tea to be as far away from me as possible.

Tastes are a weird thing. One moment, you can’t get enough of something and the next, you can’t get far enough away from it. Tea love is no exception. Tastes change and preferences evolve.  My tea journey has been a learning experience in more ways than one. I thought herbals and tisanes, blends with no real tea leaves, were for me but now I know I want my teas flavorful but rounded out with actual leaves.  In the beginning, I purchased 50 grams of any tea I wanted to try. Now I realize I don’t need to invest in so much tea at once just to have a taste – most stores have sample sizes that provide just enough leaf for a cup or two. Stores that once had the greatest blends in the world can no longer compare to the many offerings of the shops all over the net. Each day allows for a new experience and I am sure my tastes will continue to change and I will continue to learn and I think that makes for a pretty exciting journey.

Tea for the Holidays!

THE HOLIDAYS:

For my American friends, today is a day to indulge in a festive dinner with family and to give thanks. For my Jewish friends, today is a day to light the menorah and celebrate the Festival of Lights. For my tea loving friends? Today is the day to prepare for all the amazing deals that are sure to come. Like the amazing 40-60% off sales from Della Terra Teas (learn more about it here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=624138084309588&set=a.367323859991013.71912237.347462555310477&type=1&theater)

I have been waiting for this sale since I had my first sip of Della Terra’s AMAZING Carrot Cake tea. Now that it is mere hours away, I decided to celebrate with a tea fit for any thanksgiving dinner, Grandma’s Pumpkin Pie!

THE TEA:

I received a sample of this from a wonderful fellow steepsterite, Dexter3657 (although it can be purchased here: http://www.dellaterrateas.com/grandmas-pumpkin-pie/). Meant to have all the flavors of a homemade pumpkin pie, but with none of the calories, this tea is perfect for those trying to cut back on some of the holiday pounds those festive meals are sure to cause. Mixing together black tea, pumpkin spice, cinnamon, and some pumpkin candies for a touch of fun, this tea’s flavor is akin to any pumpkin pie put on your table.

Tea

Dry:

The dry leaf has an awesome spice smell. The perfect aromatic mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves filled my nose. All the spices of fall working together to make me feel warm and cozy despite the negative temperatures outside. And to top it all off, the pumpkin sprinkles take me back to my childhood when all I wanted was every piece of shaped and colored sugar bits they had on the grocery store shelves. 

Dry

Steeping:

Placing 2.5 tsps of leaf into my 16 oz timolino, I was ready to start brewing. I dumped boiling water over the leaves and set the timer for a mere two minutes. As I opened the timolino lid to remove the infuser, those spices I loved so much in the dry mix filled the air.  Those yummy pumpkin sprinkles dissolved, releasing their sugary goodness into my cup and the black leaves unfurled, making for a surely delightful treat.

Steeped

Taste:

The black tea provides a subtle base while the spices danced on my tongue. The sprinkles added a sweetness fit to curb any dessert cravings. Though the cinnamon shines, it still manages to maintain perfect balance with all the other flavors this cup has to offer.  An amazing cup for a cold winter’s snack!

Being Canadian, today is just a Thursday. However, being Jewish, I am missing out on the Hanukkah festivities with my family as I slave away over books and papers. But with this tea, even if just for a moment, I am transported to my family’s dining room table. In front of me sits a big piece of pumpkin pie and I am ready to dig in!

Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate! Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish friends! May everyone’s holidays be filled with love, happiness, and tea!

Fantasies DO Come True!

THE STORY:

Oxford dictionaries describes the word fantasy as “the faculty or activity of imagining impossible or improbable things”. As a university student, getting that desired “A” might often feel like an impossibility. For instance, when I finally decide, at 10 pm, to buckle down and write that Middle Eastern Culture and Society paper I had been putting off for weeks because I didn’t really understand what to write about, I was not really thinking an A was even in the realm of possibilities. And then when I realized I was still writing that paper at noon the following day, I pretty much just started aiming to have something passable to hand in on time. Then at 4 pm when I submitted the paper and I knew there was nothing more I could do, I breathed a sigh of relief and just hoped that the T.A. would take pity on me when he inevitably realized I had no clue what I was doing. I prayed that by some miracle I might be able to squeak by with a “B” or “B-”, and in my heart I knew even that was a bit of a stretch.

So when I finally received that paper back and noticed a big red letter had bled through the back page, I pretty much accepted my fate and braced myself for that dreaded “F”. However, instead my eyes locked in on what looked very much like an “A”. I flipped to the front page, convinced I must have grabbed someone else’s paper by accident. No, that was my name on the front. Then I thought perhaps I read the mark incorrectly, maybe I was delirious. No, that is definitely the first letter of the alphabet scrawled across the marker’s rubric. Finally I determined that this was obviously a dream. I realized I must have zoned out in class and was now having a lovely fantasy. I gave myself one solid pinch and as the pain set in, I realized that fantasies do come true!

THE TEA:

Fantasy IslandAs I rummaged through my tea stash, high on life and good grades, one tea caught my eye: Fantasy Island by DAVIDs TEA (can be purchased in any DAVIDs store or online here: http://www.davidstea.com/fantasy-island?&TF=&DEID=). With my head on cloud 9, I thought no tea could be more fitting to celebrate with than this one. Combining black tea with coconut, raspberries, and natural and artificial flavors, this tea is meant to transport you to a fantasy island where the sun never stops shining as you relax on the beach with that special someone by your side. Having had this in the past, brewed as an iced latte by the wonderful DAVIDs employees, I knew I had a wonderful treat in store for me. I was excited to see how the flavors would come together in a hot tea, so I got the kettle plugged in and got ready to brew 16 ounces of Fantasy Island deliciousness.

Dry:

Opening my 25 g bag filled with Fantasy Island tea, I was immediately carried away by the smells of sweet coconut and yummy raspberries. Looking at the leaves, I could not help but notice all the bits of coconut and raspberries dancing around the furrowed-up leaves of the black tea. I could not wait to indulge in the awesome island fantasy this tea was sure to inspire.

Dry

Steeping:

I grabbed my teaspoon measure and happily dumped two teaspoons into the infuser of my 16 oz timolino (found here: http://www.davidstea.com/stainless-timolino-16-oz?&TF=&DEID=). After carefully pouring the boiling water atop the leaves and into the timolino, I was ready to set my timer to 4 minutes and wait for the tea to work its magic. When the timer buzzed, I eagerly removed the infuser and immediately realized how the black leaves opened up, tripling in size. The raspberries swelled and the coconut released an even more enticing aroma. It was clear the flavors had been released and paradise was a mere sip away.

Steeped

Taste:

As I took my first taste, I found myself once again wondering if I was in a dream. How could a tea be this amazing?! I recalled enjoying the tea when I had it as an iced latte but in my cup, hot and plain, this tea was out-of-this-world delicious! A new favorite for sure!

The coconut is rich and creamy – a flavor reminiscent of delicious coconut macaroons. The raspberries add a depth to this cup, helping the tea remain sweet while simultaneously toning down the coconut that all too often can become cloying.  The two flavors just come together so perfectly to make an outstanding black tea that could stand up to any dessert. Who needs cake or ice cream when you have the sweetness of Fantasy Island?

Though outside might be negative degrees and the ground might be covered in snow, with this tea, everything is white sand beaches, shining sun, and a warm ocean breeze.

Pie for Breakfast?

THE MEMORIES:

When I was younger, one of the first things my grandmother taught me how to bake was an apple crumble. Everyone loved it! Every holiday seasons, she would have me sit for what seemed like hours just peeling apple after apple to make the many crumbles she needed to feed the 20-30 cousins who would be attending holiday dinners. The smell of sugary cinnamon apples and buttery crumble would fill the air and all would be right in the world.

After my grandmother passed away, no one could quite get the crumble to taste just right so my mom found an alternative. Chudleigh’s Apple Pie! No, it was not the homemade masterpiece that my grandmother used to bake but it was a close second. It became a tradition, every Sunday before Thanksgiving, my family and I would go apple picking at Chudleigh’s farm. We had a routine. We would wake up and all climb into our van. Then we would drive the hour or so to the farm. Hunger would kick in and so when we arrived we would head straight to their little food counter where their options consisted of basically roast beef sandwiches, turkey sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, or some lettuce thrown into a bowl which they called a salad. Our order was always the same: Four hot roast beef sandwiches – one for each of us – hot apple ciders to drink and an apple blossom on the side. Getting the food was the easy part though. Finding a seat is where things got tricky. We would lurk around the few tables, stalking the many patrons and hoping that maybe that family who seems to be just sitting around while their children run rampant and screaming by the garbage cans will get up and go. Just as we are about to give up hope, the dad takes his last sip of cider and walks off with children in tow. My sister and I run in and snatch up the table and lunch can begin. We scarf down the sandwiches and warm up our hands with the hot cider, all while trying to avoid the many bees that buzz about our heads. Then comes the good part – the apple blossom! Warm flaky pastry, so buttery and sweet, filled with the ooey-gooey apple pie filling that we have come to know and love. No scarfing of this dessert. We would take our time and savor every single bite. That is until Mom got bored of waiting and told us to hurry up before we missed the tractor. In seconds flat the blossoms would be devoured and we would be on our way to the orchards.

Snatching handfuls of bags, we would excitedly rush to the back of the tractor and sit on the ground with our legs dangling off the sides. Waiting patiently for the very last stop, we would pass the time talking about all the awesome things we would make with our apples. Coming to a halt along the rows of yellow awesomeness, the driver would yell “GOLDEN DELICIOUS” and we knew it was time for us to hop off. Running through the rows of apples, we would find the best looking tree, and pluck an apple to taste. If the apple was bad we would toss it aside and move on. If the apple was good, we would pick the tree clean…and move on. Over and over again this process would go until our bags were so heavy we thought our arms would break.

With our loot in tow, we would walk back in to the farm and head to the Chudleigh’s store. My mom knew exactly what she wanted, leading us straight to the freezers where she would grab two frozen apple pies. Always one to have extras stashed away, these were pies meant for the freezer to have on cold winter nights later in the year. On our way to the cash, she would grab two more apple pies (non-frozen) and a pumpkin pie that were intended to end the Thanksgiving feast we were sure to have the next day.

As a grew older, our trip to Chudleigh’s also turned in to a trip to Andrew’s farm where we would go wine tasting and pick up some deliciously fruity ice wines. Then, after the apples had been picked, the pies had been bought, and the wine had been drunk, we would drive home to begin our night of Thanksgiving dinner prep. Prep would turn into a days worth of cooking that culminated in an artery-clogging meal fit for a king. Of course, no Thanksgiving meal was complete without the pie a la mode and though we would give it our best efforts, we never quite finished those two apple pies.

Tuesday morning would roll around and I would stumble into the kitchen sleepy-eyed and hungry. There it would be, last night’s dessert – sitting on the counter and just waiting to be enjoyed once again. Nothing else seemed like it would quite satiate my hunger like that delicious slice of heaven so pie for breakfast it would be. I mean, honestly, can anyone really resist such a tempting treat? With such breakfasts like that, it should be no question why I have a weight problem.

THE TEA:

Hold on though, is there a way I can have that pie for breakfast without worrying about the effect it has on my waistline? DAVIDs certainly tried to accommodate that dream when they introduced Mom’s Apple Pie.  Mom’s Apple Pie was a limited edition tea released in DAVIDs 2013 fall collection. It is described as a calorie-free treat meant to evoke childhood memories of the classic All-American dessert. Made with green tea, apple pieces, cinnamon, natural and artificial flavours, DAVIDs had made a tea that hopefully would give me the to have my pie and drink it too.

Mom's Apple Pie

I have had a perfect teapot package of this tea for a couple of weeks now – perfectly measured to fit in a 4-cup teapot. So last night when my brand new glass teapot (bought here: http://www.theshoppingchannel.com/Grosche/Tea-Coffee-Service/Grosche-Vienna-Infuser-Teapot/pages/productdetails?nav=R:685892) arrived,  I decided I would finally be having some pie for breakfast. When I woke up, I excitedly ran upstairs in anticipation of the awesome flavor experience to come. I plugged in the kettle and got ready to brew my tea.

Dry:

When I opened up the package, (found here: http://www.davidstea.com/perfect-teapot-packs-moms-apple-pie?&TF=&DEID=) first thing I noticed was the sweet apple smell. The aroma was closer to a candied apple than apples you would find in pie. Not what I had anticipated but delicious smelling nonetheless.

Dry Leaf

When I took a closer look at the leaves, the big chunks of apple caught my eye. Mixed among a field of green, I was excited to see how the tea would turn out. I dumped the whole pack into my infuser and was ready to go.

Ready to be Steeped

Steeping:

The perfect teapot package  is already measured to fit perfectly into a 4-cup teapot. I dumped in the whole package and poured boiling water over the leaves. Immediately, the apple pieces plumped up and the tea leaves expanded.

Steeping Leaves

It did not take long for the tea to work its magic. Almost instantly, the water turned a shade of yellowish-green. It looked as though I were making apple juice.

Tea's Brewing

After three minutes of brewing, the tea was ready and it was time to remove the leaves. The apples rehydrated, coming back to life. The leaves doubled in size. Now filling more than half the infuser as opposed to the mere quarter of space the dry leaves took up. I hoped this would translate into one flavorful cup of liquefied apple pie.

Wet Leaves

Taste:

Tea is Done!

With my tea brewed and ready to drink, I delighted in the treat that was sure to come. Smells and looks are great when it comes to tea but what everything boils down to is the taste. I have tried teas that smelled amazing and tasted like s***. On the other hand, I have loved teas that I could barely stand the smell long enough to take a sip. So how did this tea compare to its namesake counterpart?

This tea did not quite deliver on the apple pie it promised. There was no buttery crust, no cinnamon spice, no sweet apple goodness. However, it did evoke memories of my childhood – the taste was reminiscent of the caramel apple lollipops my grandmother would give me as a child. The kind you get in the dollar store that tastes like a tart apple candy coated in chewy caramel deliciousness.  Unfortunately, this tea didn’t have the sweet caramel that that lollipop always benefited from. Instead I was left, a little disappointed, with just tart apple flavor mixed with slight vegetal notes courtesy of the green tea. Not horrible but far from the pie I was hoping for. Sorry DAVIDs but this is one tea I won’t be buying again.