Wednesday, April 27, 2016

My Cuppa: Definitely not my cuppa!

Wow! Another month is coming to an end. I’ve decided to close it off with a brew review. The drink I’m evaluating is so fitting with the crappy weather we’ve been experiencing here lately. So sad, but, I really did not enjoy this cuppa!

In my ever-growing stash of teas tucked in my cabinet, I found a very interesting sounding tisane I had acquired during my attendance at the latest Toronto Tea Festival. It’s called “Apple Lemon Twist”, by Steeped Tea. This company is the tea lover’s answer to the Tupperware Party. All week I’ve been enjoying the Earl Grey tea I had purchased from Pippins, so I figured I’d switch it up and brew up this tisane. Below, I’ve provided a shot of the label with the list of ingredients. Seems rather fruity.

List of ingredients.

The product came wrapped in a large tea bag from which I took a peek inside and observed large particles of apple bits and lemon peels. There was not much aroma other than a faint hint of apples. I got the feeling right away that I would be getting a weak brew. I was right.

Packaged and ready to go!


Dipping before sipping!

“Apple Lemon Twist” was weak and bland with an unpleasant aroma that smelled of a used dish cloth. Even the liquor colour gave the appearance of dirty water. It tasted sour. I did not like it at all and it’s not very often that I get a brew I thought was just terrible. I guess there’s a first time for everything. 

Time to sip!

For a moment, I thought perhaps the tea bag might be the culprit for the foul smell and taste. I’m not sure. After a few short sips, I actually dumped this crap in a cup down the sink, and made myself a pot of Earl Grey to enjoy instead!



Sunday, April 17, 2016

More Nepalese tea please!

At last night’s tea tasting event at Infuse Café, the group and I sampled a trio of teas from Nepal. I don’t think I’ve ever had a Nepalese tea, so I was really looking forward to this. I gotta say, I’ve got a whole new list of favourites!



Is it white or oolong tea?



We started off with an oolong  called White Forest that was classified as a white tea. A Spring 2014 tea from the Panchthar region, this tea was just beautiful. The dry leaves smelled fresh and sweet. We sampled a BKON brew as well as a traditional brew. I found both versions fresh, sweet, and smooth, with a slight saltiness at the end. I liked both versions but favoured the traditional brew as it was less astringent.



Re-hydrated. 

Next, we moved on to a tea called Moonshine. A label on the package literally had the following note: “White? Green? Oolong? Not sure. You decide. Signed Nepal”. Hmmm… I guess it was all up to the drinker to figure it out. The dry leaves had a grassy aroma with a hint of mint. The liquor of both the BKON brew and the traditional brew had a caramel scent. Again, I liked both samples but still preferred the traditional brew because it was less astringent.


All together now.

The final Nepalese tea we tried was a black tea called Amber Red. It’s a 2nd flush, 2015, 11:00 am harvest. Yup, they got it down to the exact time as well! The traditional brew won everyone over. It was sweet with notes of caramelized yams. We consumed four tastings of this tea with each infusion becoming weaker and blander. Just a couple of infusions suffice. The BKON brew was just way too bitter and gave a dry palate.


Red alert!

In between our tastings of Nepalese teas, the group enjoyed a couple of Indian teas to see and discuss the similarities to Nepalese teas. We had a lovely Assam to start things off. It was perfect all on its own. Later in the evening, we had a very astringent Darjeeling which was disappointing. It really needed milk and sugar to cut the bitterness.

To end the evening, Infuse Café gave us samples of an ice-creamed coffee. Basically, it is BKON brewed coffee which is then mixed with two ice-cream sandwiches. It was coffee coolness in a cup! Now all they need to do is make a tea version of it.

I really enjoyed this tea tasting session. I met a few new people who attended for the first time. They were a great bunch to discuss tea and many other topics with. Also, I definitely want to try more teas from Nepal. They were such a pleasant surprise.




Sunday, April 10, 2016

My Cuppa: Blending bonanza brew 4!

I’ve come to my final tasting review of my tea from my bonanza blending session at T-Buds. To recap, I’ve tasted “Seduced By Sencha”, “My Chai To Die For” and “Rock Me Rooibos”. Now, I’m going to review a Pu’erh my group and I named “Pu-Rah-Rah-Rah”. 

Pu-Rah-Rah-Rah!

Our “Pu-Rah-Rah-Rah” blend contains the following ingredients:

  • Pu’erh
  • Cacoa Nibs
  • Peppermint Leaves
  • Ginger
  • White Chocolate Essence
  • Rose Petals

Due to the presence of peppermint leaves, this blend naturally had a strong aroma of mint. The presence of chocolate was also evident. To prepare my tea, I used 1 cup of water brought to a boil and allowed to settle for about 5 minutes. Then, I infused 1 teaspoon of the tea leaves in the water for 5 minutes. 

Woo-hoo!

The orange-brown colour of the liquor gave the same scent as the dry leaves but just not as overpowering. I could also detect hints of an earthy barn-like aroma which I believe was the Pu’erh. The taste was not bad with a light minty and earthy flavour. I enjoyed a few cups of it while I was chillaxing.

The blending session was a great learning experience and I would definitely participate in it again. Overall the teas weren’t bad and I suspect most teas on the market aren’t that bad. It’s really more an individual preference on what you like and don’t like, mixed or pure.

That covers all the bonanza brews!



Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Tea Spot: Good eats and great gab at the Guildwood!

Yesterday, my tea group and I checked out another tea spot for tea and finger foods. This time, we headed off to The Guildwood Tea Room and Cafe for their High Tea. Some of the members had been here before, but this was my first time, and I’m glad I went. I really liked the ambiance of the shop. It’s a cozy little place that was perfect for a cold and snowy day in April. 

The starter.

The menu was a traditional Afternoon Tea with a little twist here and there. We started off with a goblet of fresh, diced strawberries and a dollop of whipped-cream. Then, we moved into the more typical items which included the following:

  • Cucumber and Dill Sandwich
  • Egg Salad Sandwich
  • Tuna Salad Sandwich
  • Cheddar and Gherkin Sandwich
  • Plain Buttermilk Scone
  • Cranberry Scone
  • Lemon Tart
  • Chocolate Brownie
  • Cheesecake with Whipped-cream
  • Coconut Macaroon

Scones.


Sandwiches.

Everything was simple and understated, but it was good and satisfying. Sometimes less is more. I really enjoyed the scones. They were soft and moist and went great with the strawberry jam and Devonshire Cream. 

Desserts.

The tea menu was quite extensive with about 75 different teas offered. The menu was broken down by type and then by various blends. I wanted to stick with something traditional but different, and so, went with a tea called Chocolate Orange Truffle. This was a lovely blend of Ceylon and China black tea with Madagascar vanilla, chocolate nibs, and orange peels. It was just perfect with a little sugar! Light with a chocolatey scent.

Tea, of course!

The conversation at my table was fabulous! There were four of us tucked off in the corner. Usually, these tea events consist entirely of women. However, it was nice this time around to have a man seated amongst us for a male perspective on things. The four of us talked about careers, food, relationships, and dating do’s and don’ts. It was very enlightening.

The outing was perfect and I would definitely return to the Guildwood for their simple pleasures!

Enlightening experience!