Friday, February 12, 2010

Sakura Sencha Time Again

So Den's Tea has reminded me again that it is Sakura Sencha time again. Sadly my tea budget is down to nil at the moment so i dug my leftovers out of the freezer from last spring to try and enjoy for this season.

While it wasn't as robust as i remember, I think that was the fault of the cold that has been plaguing me recently and not the tea itself. Still it was pleasant, filling my kyusu with a fragrant aroma and making me wish it was a bit warmer out. As it is we are supposed to have snow here tonight! I'm quite excited.

Sakura Sencha coming out is a reminder that the 100 nights sencha will be coming out shortly, and then after that all of the new teas! ah the glories of spring! how it coincides nicely with valentines day!

Sadly it seems like I won't be around the blog much as the semester heats up and threatens to explode and take over not only my free time, but also my time to sleep.

Monday, January 25, 2010

1500 Visitors!

So as I sit here procrastinating, I do have several books in my "need to read or will have no idea what is going on in class" pile, I just noticed that I've had over 1,500 Visitors to my blog! Kinda exciting isn't it?!

The majority have come from the United states ( i'm only missing 6 states!) Although I seem to also be popular in Russia, Brazil, and the UK as well. Seeing as I've only been writing for a year, and a goodly portion of that year I was AFK in grad-school chaos I think that 1500 is a very solid number.

So Thank You lurkers, casual and committed readers, and people who have no idea how they ended up here!

Enjoying some Thai Chai from adagio tonight, review to come soon.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Limbering up and buckling down

Howdy again!

I hope that everyone out there had a fantastic holiday season! I spent most of mine lounging around my parents house, catching up on sleep from the past semester and working on several knitting projects.

But now I am back in school (and have been for almost 3 weeks) and trying to get back into the swing of everything. Hopefully I will be able to continue posting here this semester, since last semester I got distracted by many things, events, people, the beach... well... you get the point.

So here I am, another year has passed, and I'm trying to think of what my first non-iced tea should be for the year. I decided on trying out Adagio's Rooibos Vanilla Chai.

My usual desk set-up for reading...

Mmm snacks... mmm tea...-sigh- reading D:

Chai is something that i'm very fond of, having first had it many years ago. My dad would make it in a really large pan on the stovetop and then keep it in the fridge where I could pour myself a mug, microwave it, and enjoy as I wanted. Since then I've had many different kinds of chai, made many different ways.

Chai is, of course, the general name for tea. Most people are familiar with Masala Chai, or spiced tea, which comes traditionally from India. There Chai is boiled continuously to enhance the flavor, resulting in a strong, spicy blend. People state-side have more usually had Chai-Latte, where they've mixed chai-extract (or flavoring) with steamed milk and copious amounts of sugar to produce a very sweet, slightly spicy, and rich drink.

Spiced Chai seems to have grown out of the desire for India natives to drink tea, but not pay as much since it was taxed by the British. They would mix the tea with spices and then serve it British style, with milk and sugar, to help defray costs. While this angered many of the tea producers, this type of preparation became popular and outlived the British reign over India.

Spiced chai usually is made up of four major components. Tea, Sweetener, Spices, and Milk. The tea is usually a black tea, and is sometimes ground to help intensify its flavor. To the tea a sweetener, usually sugar, is added, along with a variety of spices. Commonly found chai spices are, Clove, Cinnamon, Ginger, Peppercorn, Anise, Cardamom, and Nutmeg. Many people tend to prefer to make their own blends instead of buying mixed Chai. This mixture is then boiled in a mixture of milk and water to create a delicious creamy, spicy, and soothing drink.

Recently there have been more people experimenting with chai, making it with green tea or rooibos instead of black tea, or adding in non-traditional spices such as vanilla, chocolate, etc. Some people enjoy the tea steeped as normal tea would be with only boiling water, others like to do this and then add milk and or sugar. Others prefer to make it the traditional way, boiling the mixture on the stovetop. Iced chai is also becoming popular, especially in milkshake-like blends.

I opted to make this in the traditional style, why mess with something that's perfect? I took 3/4 cup water and 3/4 cup milk, added about 4 tsp of sugar, and a few tbsp of the chai mix and mixed them all in a pan, stirring every now and again on the stove until the liquid looked the right color, which took a little over 10 minutes, The result was slightly more than a cup of delicious, spicy, and interesting cup of chai.

The rooibos creates a different spicy taste than normal black tea. I'm not sure that it's better than traditional black tea, but it's not bad. The vanilla is delicious in this, and the other spices complement each other nicely. Its a good blend, not something that I would reach for everyday, but on a cold rainy day it sure does warm up the body and soul.

I would recommend trying this tea several ways and see what works for you! In my experience it gets spicier as it cools down, but you might find something different.

I prefer snacking while (studying and) drinking tea. On my plate above you can see a tea egg, sliced in half, cream cheese topped with raspberry preserves with crackers, and a small daifuku. mmm. I like the crackers and cream cheese best with chai, since the creamy and sweet works well with the creamy and sweet of the chai.

Happy Sipping!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Thanksgiving 2009--Wrightsville Beach, NC

Wow it's been awhile! Grad school has officially let me go for the holidays since I've just finished grading the exams for the history class I TA'd for this past semester. I've sadly had little chance to really enjoy any tea, or sleep for that matter!! It's one of my New Years Resolutions to get back to the Tea and to try and have a few moments to myself each day where I can enjoy a cup of tea and not think about the bazillion things that I have to do. So hopefully that will improve my posts as well!

A fellow tea enthusiast, Jason Witt, has written a book, Spirtuality of Tea :God's Blessing for Your Mind, Body, and Spirit , and it's priced for the holidays over at He's been good enough to send along an excerpt from the book and a short bio.

Tea is God’s Blessing for your mind, body, and spirit. The three are inseparable and none is most important; tea is God’s Gift to your whole person. It will first give you Peace of Mind, reducing the stress that could kill you at a young age, and grant you better focus.

Then tea keeps you young as the Fountain of Youth. Stress would otherwise age you, along with a number of other factors, ending with the major diseases. Tea is known to potentially prevent all that. And it is spiritual virtue to come to God like a child (who doesn’t age.) It’s worthy of Paradise.

Finally tea is revealed as the Tree of Life. It’s the healing Food of Heaven, now available here on earth for these current generations. And pu-erh tea shows itself enlightening as a particularly spiritual tea, a blessing upon those who enjoy it faithfully.

Jason Witt…has God as his Significant Other.

Jason…is an expert on the Spirituality of Tea (with a Western perspective.)

he…likes tea-themed music of all eras.

…is a good listener.

…eats a low-calorie diet.

…has overcome a lot of addictions, including to wine and women.

…doesn't ever want to own a car again or buy his own house (so he's also green.)

…lives the simple life without gathering many possessions.

…nevertheless drinks a lot of tea.

…now resides in Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA.

He's been busy it seems getting to know tea! You can read more about Jason, and about his book over at his site.

There have also been several Tea-Sales going on online, so if you're looking to stock up on something that you've just run out of this may be a good time to check and see if there are any specials at your favorite sites!

As for me, I'm content to cozy up on my couch, knit some presents for my friends, and relax with a cup of tea. There might be several papers to write in a few weeks, and loads of books to read, and a whole new set of students to get to know and to help them learn more about history... but right now it seems like a good time to just kick back.

Happy Holidays Ya'll!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Back into the swing of things...

So the tea-blog commences again! Sorry for the haitus, but moving and settling in as well as starting to get into the swing of classes took a lot longer than I expected! But here I am again, back enjoying tea, regardless of the outside temperature~!

But today I don't have a tea review ready, sorry! Instead just an update about what I'm doing etc etc.

I got into graduate school! So I am currently studying Public History, and I hope to graduate not this, but next spring. I'm near the beach, which is amazing, and am learning how to play the ukulele, once I learn how to play an entire song i'll have to post a video or something, hahaha~ I'm also working as a TA, I've got my hands on 70 or so Western Civ students and i'm helping them better understand the ancient historians, they're not fans of Homer or Livy it turns out...

I'm attending a conference to present a paper as part of a panel! incidently, the paper also won an award and might be getting printed!! Very exciting!

I'm working on getting a strictly-tea area in my room made up, for this i'm also looking to procure a kotatsu. It's going to be a christmas present to myself :D if anyone knows where I can find one let me know!

Anyways, i'm off to enjoy part of my labor day weekend at the beach! I hope ya'll are enjoying the holiday as well!
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Thursday, July 9, 2009

No tea for 2 months?!

A recent comment on my last entry has reminded me that i do have things to do on the computer other than check my email, haha~ so where have i been, why haven't i updated in a few months?

In the middle of May I graduated from College! and then promptly moved home, visited my graduate school to hunt for apartments, and got prodded and poked by various doctors to update my medical history before heading off to Alabama to intern.

I was in Alabama most of June, and sadly internet-less everywhere i stayed. Many nights i would sit in a local coffee house to steal some wifi or would head over to the library. If nothing else i learned that internet is a big part of how i stay connected!

I finally returned home near the end of June and although the internet here has a mind of it's own i have been slowly getting back into doing everything i used to do. Buying a Wii although has rather drained my time and i find it addicting in all the right ways! Now that my roommate and I have finally settled on an apartment and filled out all the paperwork for it, i have less worries and can shift some time around to finally get in a few tea-things.

That said i've not ordered any new tea and while there has been the few instances of me rummaging through my boxes of college things to find a tea that i had a craving for, i've mostly been stuck with lipton, and fast food tea. Which has led me to actually find most fast-food teas drinkable. I've also found that Atlanta has very few loose tea stores. Which is rather sad.

I'm hoping that once i finally settle into my new apartment I will be able to then focus on actually getting all my tea together and then hopefully finding some new teas. I'll also be closer to the Only American Tea Plantation, which i hope to visit sometime soon.

So to finally answer the question from Jason. I do love green teas! and more specifically japanese greens. However due to a variety of things, mostly a lack of funds to buy and ship tea, and the timing to have fresh tea. I just haven't gotten around to reviewing many Japanese Greens. I have reviewed the very tasty and sadly seasonal Sakura Sencha from Den's as well as their Genmaicha and Bancha. All very tasty teas that i always try to keep on the shelf. I have researched getting into Matcha, but unless i save my tea budget for a few months i'm afraid that i'll not get into it anytime soon. I was planning on staying in the know about this past spring's new Senchas but i decided to wait for reviews from others since my tea budget is rather small. This pause caused me to get off track most of the summer. Finally i haven't really focused a lot on greens, despite my love for them, because there a lot of other people that have focused on greens. I like to try teas of a variety of styles because there are some great gems out there that might not be the typical loose leaf but are delicious none-the-less! Hopefully when I have something that resembles a real job i'll be able to try more teas. I hope that you and the rest of my 'viewers' stay tuned for that :)

I might not post as often as i should this month but I hope to start posting more regularly in August! I hope that everyone else out there is having a great summer!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Cup-- 15 Donkey Chai

Finals week is upon me. While I am normally stressed out around this time i am rather laid back this year, most likely because of the ease of most of my classes. I actually haven't had much tea in the past week or so. Why? because while making some of the delicious Donkey Chai that my friends graciously brought me from OU i burned my fingers. yep boiling water is really hot.

So with both hands stuck into a large bowl of cold water i managed to sip at the beverage and enjoy it even though by making it i had maimed myself and was unable to type the rest of my history paper. Yet while i went to bed, clutching an ice pack, i smiled at the fact that my room still smelled like chai.

Donkey Chai is different from normal chai. It is a mix stir in, like hot chocolate, instead of a chai-tea infusion. Also this is not made from, die not travel on, or smell like a donkey. it instead is from The Donkey. Cafe in the Athens, OH area. I highly suggest that you stop by anytime you are in the area.

Chai, in general, is a spicy beverage, usually an infusion of tea and herbs in hot milk or water. the donkey makes their chai with cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, sugar, and black tea and mix it with hot steamed milk. It is quite delicious. Spicy but smooth, not too sweet but a good dessert. It's aroma entices, it's taste pleases, and when you reach the end of the cup you can't help but feel like having another.

In a side note. It seems like my keyboard is rather popular. it does need to be repainted, and this time properly sealed. if any of ya'll are interested in jazzing up your own keyboard you can check out my earlier post where i tell how to do it. it makes for a rather nice weekend project :3

Brew Time-mix, not leaves
Water Temp-boiling
Color- creamy brown
Fragrance- spicy and sweet
Taste-smooth and spicy
Best during- cold weather
Style- mix
Price per bag- $4.00
Place bought- The Donkey
Overall- mmm~ delicious!