Peek-A-Boo Tea Review: Sanctuary T Lunch Ching

Hey kids!  I just me, Abby, posting today. Sanctuary T sent us a bunch of samples and I just wanted to get one up here for you all ASAP. Katie doesn’t have these teas yet, so you will just have to trust my review for this one. Hopefully soon we will get together for a tea party to try some of the other samples they sent so you can get input from both of us!  Please note that while we were sent free samples of this tea to review we are just as critical of free tea. If we receive something we don’t like we give an honest review or skip it all together!

On to the quick sneak-peek review…

Lunch Ching

Abby says:

Tea Type: Loose leaf
Temperature: @ 180 below boiling
Steeped: 2 minutes
Served: Nothing added

This Lunch Ching tea sample didn’t come with any information about it aside from the name, but looking at it you can see that it is a beautiful green tea. It tastes like one too! This tea has a strong grassy flavor with a satisfying umami taste. On this (well below zero) winter day it brings hope of summertime with bright green leaves and flavors!

Great for green or white tea lovers!  This tea has big flavor. Beware of steeping times and water temperature when making this tea.

Taste: 4 of 5 leaves – Quite a good cuppa!
Steepability: 3 of 5 leaves — this tea is a bit delicate.

Lunch ching

 

Look for more Sanctuary T reviews soon!

Review: Golden Tips Gopaldhara Gold Darjeeling

Happy Valentines Day! You know what pairs well with chocolate? Tea! Please note that while we were sent free samples of this tea to review we are just as critical of free tea. If we receive something we don’t like we give an honest review or skip it all together!

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Overall rating: 

Taste: 4.5 of 5 tea leaves — quite a good cuppa!
Steepability: 4 of 5 — this tea requires very little effort.

Abby says:

Tea Type: Loose leaf
Temperature: @ 200+
Steeped: 3.5 minutes
Served: Nothing added

First things first, I was impressed with how this tea is packaged. It arrived from India in air-tight black packages with all of the tea information readily available on the label.  Not only does the label provide the expected information about the tea, like tea type and steeping times and temps, but it also has much more detailed information as well such as the date of picking, the estate and the tea grade. For the average tea drinker this information isn’t necessary, but I think it’s pretty cool anyway and it provides a lot of insight about the tea.

Secondly a note about Darjeeling tea. You haven’t seen much from us about this type of tea, so I thought I’d give you a quick rundown before moving into the review. Darjeeling tea is known as the “Champagne of tea” not only for its flavor, but also because Darjeeling tea only comes from the Darjeeling district in Northern India just as champagne only comes from Champagne France. Darjeeling is typically a lighter black tea with terrific flavor that you can drink all day long.

OK, review time.  Golden Tips Gopaldhara Gold Darjeeling tea steeping to a pretty light brown with a roasted coffee or cocoa aroma. The taste was earthy and flavorful with a slight sweetness. There were hints of fruit and flowers in each sip. Though it is a black tea, it isn’t strong or robust. Instead it’s lighter and easier to drink. I found the flowery notes to be very interesting and kept me sipping.  I did steep this tea for a second time for five minutes. The second steep tasted different from the first, as expected. I note more black tea flavor and less sweetness, but it was still a tasty cuppa!

Taste: 4 of 5 tea leaves — quite a good cuppa!
Steepability: 4 of 5 — this tea requires very little effort.
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Katie says:

Tea Type: Loose leaf
Temperature: @ 200+
Steeped: 3.5 minutes
Served: with a touch of honey

First off, ditto everything Abby said about the packaging. It arrived wrapped in cloth looking very mysterious and exciting to open.

Darjeeling tea is not your typical black tea. These teas are intended to be light-bodied and are popular as “afternoon teas” for this reason. If you’re looking for a rich dark tea that holds up to milk and sugar keep looking! However, if you are in search of a nice light yet flavorful tea try this! I like my tea sweet and this tea holds up well with a touch of honey. Don’t let the light coloring fool you, this tea has an earthy almost bittersweet chocolate richness to it. It’s good for a 2nd steep. Another nice thing about this tea is that it’s good hot or iced. If you find your nearly-full cup of tea abandoned and cold (as I often do with a toddler at home) just pour over ice and it’s just as nice! (Couldn’t resist the rhyme)

Head on over to Golden Tip’s website to order some for yourself! A quick note about our ratings. Taste is pretty self-explanatory, but Steepability tells you how easy the tea is to make. This tea isn’t tricky, but we’re giving it a 4 instead of 5 because loose-leaf teas require the extra step of an infuser but are SO worth it! Just look at those big beautiful tea leaves!

Taste: 4.5 of 5 tea leaves — quite a good cuppa!
Steepability: 4 of 5 — this tea requires very little effort.

More Golden Tips reviews coming soon!

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Snow Day Review: Numi Winter Spice

numi

It’s another snowy day here in New England! We’re beginning to wonder if it will ever stop! Do you think it will be July before we can see our lawns again?

Overall Rating:

Taste: 4 of 5 leaves: Quite a good cuppa!
Steepability: 3 of 5 — this tea is a bit delicate.

Katie says:

Tea Type: Bagged
Temperature: @200 (below boiling)
Steeped: 2.5 minutes
Served: Nothing added then enjoyed with a touch of honey.

This a a great fall & winter tea. It has all of the same flavors as mulling spices. If you like a nice mulled wine or cider try this as a lighter version. The light clean taste of white tea pairs well with this traditional cold-weather spices giving them a chance to shine through.

This a great tea for anyone cutting back on caffeine. It would also be a good choice for late afternoon if you are sensitive to caffeine later in the day. Many decaf teas are a but lackluster so try this low caffeine option instead!

Taste: 4 of 5 leaves: Quite a good cuppa!
Steepability: 3 of 5 — this tea is a bit delicate.

 

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Abby says:

Tea Type: Bagged
Temperature: @180 (well below boiling)
Steeped: 2 minutes
Served: Nothing added

Numi’s Winter Spice is a blend of delicate white tea, cinnamon, clove and orange peel. Dry in it’s bag and while it steeps this tea gives on a wonderful spicy and herbaceous aroma that makes you want to try it immediately. Although light, you are able to taste all of the ingredients in each sip. The cinnamon and clove come out at the front and the sweet orange lingers after. I wasn’t able to pull out the taste of the white tea in my first few sips, but then realized that the flavor of the tea is simply adding an earthiness or herb flavor to the traditionally sweet spices.

White tea is lowest in caffeine, so this tea makes the prefect afternoon cuppa! It  would also be a great way to warm up all day if you have made a resolution to cut the caffeine. BTW, are we still talking about resolutions now that is February? :) Remember that white tea isn’t as forgiving as other teas, so don’t oversteep and make sure your water isn’t too hot!

Let’s not to forget to talk about some of the other reasons I love this tea: Organic – yay!, Fair-trade – double yay!, Non-GMO – hooray for food labeling! The more you know about where your food and tea come from the easier it is to make decisions about what you consume.

Pro tip: Resteep this tea! For the second steep I let it sit for 3.5 minutes. The second time around the cinnamon and clover were strong, but the orange peel faded. It was still tasty and worth the second cup!

 

Taste: 4 of 5 leaves: Quite a good cuppa!
Steepability: 3 of 5 — this tea is a bit delicate.

Chai Spice Creme Brulee at Fuel Restaurant

Chai Spice Creme Brulee

For my birthday a couple of weeks ago my husband took me out to dinner at Fuel in Lewiston, Maine. It was our first time there, but we had been hearing great things about this spot for a while now. Our dinner was amazing from the start, but what really got me was the dessert! Chai spice creme brulee served with a snickerdoodle cookie. I love chai spices. I love creme brulee. I love snickerdoodle cookies. Obviously I was excited to try this dish.

Believe it or not, it was better than I anticipated. The top was perfectly crunchy and needed a good smack from the spoon to crack. Oh, how I love to do that! Under the sugar was a perfectly decadent creamy and spice custard. Every bite was incredible. Even the snickerdoodle cookie was wonderfully snickerdoodly!

Fuel Dessert Menu

If you find yourself in the area of Lewiston, Maine, do yourself the favor of checking out Fuel. You will love it! In addition to the beautiful dessert we also had the fondue for two and the coq au vin. Both dishes were delicious, and over the top. The fondue was creamy, salty, garlicy and fun!  The coq au vin was rich and savory, with wonderful complex flavors of chicken, wine, butter, mushrooms and bacon.  Hungry yet?!  I can’t wait to get back to Fuel for another meal (and dessert) and hope you make it there soon.

Review: The Spice and Tea Exchange Decaf Earl Grey

Earl Gret Decaf

Overall rating: 

Taste: 2.5 of 5 leaves –  This tea is just ok.
Steepability: 5 of 5 — this tea is easy to make!

Abby says:

Tea Type: Loose leaf
Temperature: @ 200+
Steeped: 5 minutes
Served: Nothing at first, then a tiny bit of honey

This tea, The Spice and Tea Exchange Decaf Earl Grey started out on a high note, but fell from there. Before steeping this tea, I noticed how pretty it was with dark black tea leaves mixed with orange peels and cornflowers and as a dry tea it smells great with a strong bergamot aroma. It steeped to a deep brown and still had that nice citrus aroma you want from earl grey. Then I tasted the tea and was let down. It was just OK.

With decaf tea, I have come to expect a weaker tea, so I was prepared for that. The black tea flavor was there, but not as strong as a caffeinated tea. That’s OK though, we expect that and I could still taste the tea. What I didn’t anticipate was the vanishing bergamot! I can smell it, but I can’t taste it.

Taste: 2 of 5 leaves –  This tea is just ok.
Steepability: 5 of 5 — this tea is easy to make!

 

Usually we really like teas from the Spice and Tea Exchange. Check out some of their other teas that we love:

Mystic Dragon

Hazelnut Cookie Tea

 

Katie says:

Tea Type: Loose leaf
Temperature: @ 200+
Steeped: 5 minutes
Served: With milk & honey (Only use a little or you’ll overpower this mild tea)

As Abby commented, and as is true with most decaf teas, this one had a pretty weak flavor. If anyone out there finds a nice, strong, decaf black tea please let us know! The trick to this one is to put in a LOT of tea. I use double the amount of loose tea that I would normally use for another variety. It is only with this double strength trick that I really like this tea. Double strength brewed & it’s got some nice hints of black tea and bergamot that will stand up to a little milk & honey. If you use a normal amount of tea, it’s really not that great. The flavors get lost, especially if you like milk & honey in your back tea as I do. I don’t hold it against the spice and tea exchange that this tea is mild, since most decaf teas tend to be. Do be sure the click the links above to see some teas from them that we’ve loved!

Taste: 3 of 5 leaves – A decent tasty tea. (When brewed at double strength)
Steepability: 5 of 5 — this tea is easy to make!

Spiral Zucchini Noodles

Did anyone else get a Williams-Sonoma Spiralizer for Christmas? I did – and I’m really excited about it. Really. This first thing I made were zucchini noodles with and olive oil and garlic. Take a look at the recipe below.  Since then I have been interested in what else this contraption can be used for and I’ve found the answer. A lot of things! Apple chips, shoe-string fries (sweet or white potato), caramelized onions. So stayed-tuned – I’ll be posting more throughout the year about my experimentation with the spiralizer. Watch out CSA veggies, I’ve got three different spiral blades and I’m not afraid to use ‘em! BTW, is it spring yet?

Anyway, let’s get back on track. Zucchini noodles. Delish!

Zuchinni

Ingriedients:

2 medium zucchini

1/4 cup olive oil

2 cloves fresh garlic, minced

2 pinches of salt, separated

1 pinch black pepper

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper

grated Parmesan

3-4 chopped fresh basil leaves

Directions:

1. Prep the zucchini. The Spiralizer has good step by step directions for this in the cookbook. I’ll briefly describe it here as well. Once the Spiralizer is put together and stuck to the counter-top, attach a zucchini and spin the handle while pushing the veg toward the blades. This is a bit awkward at first, but you get used to it quickly. Repeat for the next zucchini. Then place your “noodles” in a colander and sprinkle with salt and set aside. This will help drain the excess water from the zucchini.

2. Heat a skillet on the stove-top using medium-high heat. Add Olive oil. Once the oil is hot, reduce heat to medium, add garlic, remaining salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. Saute for five minutes. Add zucchini “noodles” toss until coated and heated through. Do not cook the zucchini.

3. Serve topped with parmesan and basil

That’s it,  meal complete! Enjoy.

Zuchini noodles

 

Review: Dobra Tea Moli Hua Cha (Little Bird Tongue)


Overall Rating:

Taste: 4 of 5 leaves – Quite a good cuppa!
Steepability: 3 of 5 tea leaves – This tea is a bit delicate.

Abby says:

Tea Type: Loose Leaf
Temperature: @200 (below boiling)
Steeped: 2 minutes
Served: Nothing added

Dobra Tea is one of my favorite places in Portland. I love going there for a pot of tea because there is always something interesting to try and the setting is welcoming and relaxing. I wish I could stop in everyday for tea, but being the busy girl I am I don’t get there nearly often enough.  Whenever I get the chance to stop in I try to stock up on tea to have at home. Last time I was in I got this beautiful tea. A green tea scented with jasmine.

This tea is delicate, so make sure to take the time to steep it correctly because if not you will end up with bitter tea. When done the right way this tea steeps to a beautiful light yellow and has wonderful grassy flavors mixed with the fragrant jasmine. A light flavorful tea. This tea also re-steeps very well. for this review I re-steeped it twice, letting it steep a hair longer each time.

Taste: 4.5 of 5 leaves: Quite a good cuppa!
Steepability: 3 of 5 tea leaves –  This tea is a bit delicate.

Katie says:

Tea Type: Loose Leaf
Temperature: @200 (below boiling)
Steeped: First try 3 minutes (too long!) then 2 minutes (just right) with a 3 min second steep.
Served: With a touch of honey.

I love love love Dobra too and wish I could have tasted this tea there! They carefully time each cup of tea for you which is the best! When steeping my first cup of this tea I totally over steeped it and it was super bitter – yuck!

On my second try I steeped it for only 2 minutes. It wasn’t bitter, but, for me there the jasmine taste somewhat overwhelmed the tea. I liked this one much better on a second steep! In fact, it I were to make this tea again for myself I might give it a 10-15 second rinse in hot water. This rinse method is often used to lessen the caffeine content. However, in this case I’d do it to mellow out the jasmine flavors.

Taste:  3.5 of 5 leaves: A decent tasty tea.
Steepability: 3 of 5 tea leaves – This tea is a bit delicate.

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It’s time for Downton!

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Our Year in Review: 2014

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for us! Click the link below to see the full review of our work in 2014!  Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2015 filled with love and good tea.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,200 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Last minute gift: Peanut brittle recipe

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Here is the EASIEST recipe and it makes delicious homemade brittle. This makes a great hostess or holiday gift. Your friends will think you’re a skilled candy-maker. You’re secret! Forget the double boiler — all you need is a microwave!

You’ll need:
nonstick cooking spray
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3/4 t kosher salt
2 cups roasted salted peanuts
1 T unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 t vanilla extract
3/4 t baking soda

Directions:
Spray your baking sheet with cooking spray and line with parchment paper. Then, for good measure spray the paper too. While you’re at it: spray a spatula as well. Find a large microwave-safe bowl with tall sides. I suggest Pyrex glass. Stir together the sugar, corn syrup, and salt until smooth. Microwave the sugar mixture on high until it is bubbling, 2 to 4 minutes. Mix in the peanuts and butter and microwave on high until the mixture has thickened and is a pale golden color, 3 to 5 minutes more. (I needed closer to 5 minutes or my brittle didn’t set right and stayed more like toffee) Remove the peanut mixture from the microwave and add vanilla and baking soda. Be careful this bubbles! Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, spreading it with the prepared spatula. Let stand until hardened 30 minutes. Putting yours in the fridge/freezer will make the next step easier. Lift the brittle off the parchment and break into 2-inch pieces.