Five March Favorites

 

Don’t mind me. I’m just trying to play catch-up!

I’ve never had to balance blogging with a YouTube channel before. Aside from both being time-consuming (but like, in a good way), there is the challenge of creating content for the two without being redundant. I want to share my videos on my blog, but I also don’t want to basically transcribe the videos on my website either. Do you run a YouTube channel and a blog? How do you ensure you’re producing unique (yet related) content for both mediums?

March Empties: Adagio Teas, DavidsTea, T2 Teas, and more!

I’m nearly a month into my tea buying ban, and I’m still staying strong despite the temptations broadcasted on YouTube and in my Instagram feed. I sipped my way through 22 teas this month, although that hardly made a dent in my collection. You can watch the YouTube video to learn about everything I tasted in March, or you can just check out these favorites from the month:

Earl Grey Lavender from Adagio Teas: This twist on Earl Grey is no stranger to my site, and three and a half years later, I’m still a fan of this blend of black tea, bergamot, vanilla, and lavender.

Berry Creme Compote from Adagio Teas: Okay, I know I’ve raved about this tea plenty already, but this fruit and cream blend is seasonal and only available for a short time. Don’t miss out on your opportunity to taste this one!

French Early Grey from T2 Teas: This is another floral twist on a classic, this time with rose instead of lavender.

Nut Crunch Rooibos from Tea Sparrow: This tea was reminiscent of apple pie and tasted amazing both plain and as a latte. It appears it was a seasonal blend, but if the quality and flavor of this tea is representative of their product, I bet anything on their site is dreamy. Tea Sparrow is a monthly subscription service, but you are able to purchase the current month’s featured teas.

Carribbean Crush from DavidsTea: I can’t get this herbal blend of apple, pineapple, papaya, hibiscus, and cranberry out of my head! It tasted tropical and sweet, and I can’t wait until my tea buying ban is over, so I can buy more!

What were your favorite teas from March?

Berry Creme Compote Iced Tea

Today, I’m sipping Berry Creme Compote from Adagio, and it’s one of those teas that makes me think it’s a lot warmer than it really is. Which is why it’s only 39 degrees outside, but I have the back door open to let in that cool Springtime breeze. Did I say “cool”? I suppose I really meant to say “chilly”.

Look at this tea though. It’s practically a fruit salad:

Berry Creme Compote is a blend of rose hips, hibiscus, apple pieces, blue cornflowers, natural creme flavor, raspberries, natural blueberry flavor, natural strawberry flavor, raspberry leaves, strawberries, blueberries, and natural black berry flavor

The first time I had this tea was while I was on maternity leave back in October. I had it hot, and slightly sweetened, and I thought it was tasty then. But, this tea really shines when it is iced; it becomes a refreshing treat for a warm, Spring day.

I steeped about 2.5 heaping spoonfuls of leaves per 8 oz of water, and I let it steep for easily an hour to get a really concentrated liquor since pouring it over ice would water it down a little bit. Aside from the beautiful and bold red liquor, Berry Creme Compote is a blend of tart berries and cream. I sweetened my iced Berry Creme Compote with a drizzle of maple syrup too, which helped draw out the creme flavor even more. (I find this tea is a little too tart for my tastebuds without sweetener).

This herbal tea is a refreshing treat for a warm spring and summer day that had me longing for warmer weather.

This tea, along with Adagio’s Lemon Meringue Green tea, is one of their seasonal teas available only for a short time during Spring, so make sure you snag some bags of this tea before it goes back to hibernate!

Looking for more fruity teas to sip this Spring? Check out these blends:

 

 

Tea Vlog: What I Drink in a Day

We ran out of Bubly (which is just flavored seltzer water, like La Croix, but I feel less like a hipster drinking it), which means in attempt to avoid drinking plain water, I decided to drink a cup or two more tea than I usually do.

Teas tasted in this vlog:

Twinings Earl Grey – I might write a lot about loose leaf teas, but most mornings, I tuck in to a cup of Twinings Earl Grey tea. It’s a quick, easy, and consistent cup of caffeine to get me going in the morning. Plus, it’s inexpensive and I can pick it up at my grocery store whenever I’m running low

Mint Verbena from Harney and Sons – This tea is a blend of mint and lemon verbena. I personally did not pick up the lemony aroma from the verbena, but the mint was bold and refreshing. It was a great caffeine-free tea to drink to improve alertness.

Rooibos Mango from Adagio – This tea is a blend of rooibos tea, natural mango flavor, apple pieces, mango pieces, and marigold flowers. This particular rooibos blend from Adagio did not work for me, and I was unable to pick up the mango notes. That’s not to say this tea is bad, but there are just other rooibos blends by Adagio that I’m over the moon about.

Caribbean Crush from DavidsTea – This tea is a blend of apple, pineapple, papaya, hibiscus, cranberry, and artificial flavoring. I cold brewed this tea, and even though my sample size was not the ideal amount of tea for a cold brew, I still thought this fruit, herbal blend tasted amazing. When I’m finally done with my tea buying ban, I definitely want to get more of the Caribbean Crush.

Just Chamomile from T2 – This chamomile night-cap was absolutely dreamy. The flavor was very honey-like, and overall it was a very soothing tea for the evening.

What teas do you drink in a day?

The First Day of Spring with Chunmee Green Tea

How appropriate that I should upload a video and publish a blog post about a delicious tea that resonates Springtime on the first day of Spring? I didn’t even plan this. I don’t even think I’m that clever anymore. Of course, it’s only March, which means Michiganders are still weeks away from consistently pleasant weather and pink and white blossoms budding on trees, but at least the sun has started to poke through Winter’s cloudy days. That’s a start. In the meantime, there is Made of Tea’s Chunmee Green Tea to sip on while we wait. It has an aroma that reminds me of freshly cut hay, which makes me antsy for warmer weather so I can spend some time outdoors.

I don’t think I’ve looked forward to Springtime so fiercely before. Between working from home and having a little guy all cooped up indoors, I can’t wait for weather warm enough for strolls at the park. Here are 6 other things I want to do this Spring:

  1. Re-do the kitchen; liven it up with fresh paint, replace light fixtures, buy a kitchen table finally…
  2. Try my hand at growing a little tea garden in my backyard, again
  3. Learn how to mow the lawn so Jon and I don’t battle over the yard anymore
  4. Clean up and re-mulch the flower beds in the front yard, so our house has a little more curb appeal
  5. Get back in to shape. I’m basically a loaf of Brioche at this point
  6. Giving my home the Marie Kondo treatment. Seriously, when did I accumulate so much stuff?

What is springtime like in your neck of the woods, and what are you looking forward to doing?

Looking for more teas to sip this Springtime? Check out these:

I’m on a Tea Buying Ban! Plus, 9 TasTEA Recommendations

Of course I love tea. I wouldn’t have named my (old) blog Books & Tea otherwise. But, brewing tea is a ritual that takes time, and I rarely afforded myself the time to make myself a good cup of tea on a regular basis before Oliver came in to the world. I still went on tea buying benders whenever my favorite brands had great sales on their websites though.

At the height of my collection, I had nearly 200 types of tea that occupied an entire kitchen cupboard, the bottom shelf of the pantry, and it even spilled out on to the kitchen floor. Once I went on maternity leave in October though, I made it a point to finally sip through my collection to make it more manageable. And also to get it up off the kitchen floor in case Jon and I finally decided to buy a kitchen table (we’ve lived in this house for over two years now, and we still don’t own a kitchen table…). Here are some of the sipworthy blends from that time period:

Teaster Marshmallow Tea from Adagio Tea is a limited edition tea that is blend of green rooibos, apple pieces, candy sprinkles, vanilla creme flavor, marigold flowers, and apricots. It’s like eating marshmallow peeps but without all of the guilt of consuming bunny shaped marshmallows coated in sugar.

Strawberry Rhubarb Parfait from DavidsTea is an herbal blend of apple, hibiscus, raisins, carrot, beetroot, yogurt bits, strawberry, rhubarb, and natural and artificial flavoring. It’s fruity sweet, dreamy creamy, and slightly tart.

Vanilla Nut Chicory Roasted Tea from Teeccino is a blend of roasted organic carob, organic barley, organic chicory, dates, almonds, organic figs, natural vanilla extract, and natural vanilla nut flavor. When paired with milk and sugar, this tea tastes just like a cappuccino but without the caffeine

Berry Creme Compote from Adagio is a seasonal tea available in Spring.  It’s an herbal blend of rose hips, hibiscus, apple pieces, blue cornflowers, natural creme flavor, raspberries, natural blueberry flavor, natural strawberry flavor, raspberry leaves, strawberries, blueberries, and natural blackberry flavor. It is berry creamy and tart and is best sipped slightly sweetened.

English Breakfast Tea from Adagio is a classic black tea, and I prefer mine with a splash of milk and a spot of sugar

Rooibos Vanilla from Adagio is rooibos with natural vanilla flavor and is perfect to cozy up with on a cold afternoon.

Creme Brulee Tea from T2 is a blend of black tea, natural and artificial flavor, and hazelnut praline. I don’t think creme brulee is supposed to taste like hazelnut, but I’ll make an exception for T2.

Key Lime Pie Herbal from Adagio is another seasonal tea that is available in summertime. It is a blend of hibiscus, rose hips, apple pieces, orange and key lime pie flavor. With a little bit of sugar, this tea taste just like a key lime pie.

Just Peachy from DavidsTea is a blend of apple, apple pomace, sweet blackberry leaves, peach, and natural and artificial flavoring. Might I suggest cold brewing this tea?

 

So…I’m ignoring all of the tantalizing coupons my favorite tea stores send to my inbox. I’m resisting the urge to snag a box of Adagio’s new Matcha Sticks…FREE! (with $49 purchase 😂). I’ve even paused my Sipsby subscription until I sip my through my collection of tea. We will see how long I can last on my tea buying ban!

Beginning Again

Do you know what’s scarier than clicking the “publish” button on the very first post on a brand new blog? Realizing 8 years and 234 posts later that I no longer identify with my blog. I mean, it was inevitable. Where I was when I started Books & Tea 8 years ago, and where I am today may as well be two completely different planets.

THANK. GOODNESS.

One thing that hasn’t changed though is my inability to write a proper introduction post (or in this case, a re-introduction post). So please, check out these infrequently asked questions:

What is your new blog name?

The Oversteeper! Changing over the URL is a work in progress, so you can still find me at https://booksntea.wordpress.com. My Instagram and Twitter handles have changed though:

Instagram: @theoversteeper

Twitter: @theoversteeper

Why not start a new blog?

I kind of already addressed that in a previous blog post, the Comeback Kid. I tried launching a new blog several months ago, but it just felt weird, so I quietly abandoned it. There is also a lot of content on Books & Tea that I’m proud of, and I still want it incorporated into the new, The Oversteeper identity.

So, really you’re just changing your blog name?

Well, no. There is more to it than that. Part of it is a change in identity– a “re-brand” if you will. Part of it is a change in content. For a blog called Books & Tea, I wrote more about books than tea. Expect far fewer books, and expect less of a “review”-style format.

Fine. What is this blog even about then?

Tea, of course! And equally the reflections on motherhood, self-care, and re-discovering who I am in this new era in life that surface while sipping a cup of tea.

Who is the Oversteeper?

Well, I am, of course! I’m Jackie (still). I’m thirty, and I recently decided to quit my corporate job so I could be a work at home mom. I somehow balance working as an accountant from the nursery, while a five-month-old wriggles on my lap, playing with brightly colored stacking cups.

The name, “the Oversteeper” came from my tendency to oversteep tea, because I am often either distracted by baby wrangling or hyper-focused on another task, like work (or on the ultra rare occasion, when I happen to wake up before everyone, dungeon crawling in a video game).

Hey, didn’t I see you on YouTube?

Yes! You did! You can check out my channel here. I create silly videos about tea. Please consider subscribing 🙂

What is your favorite type of tea?

I have a love for the versatility of oolong teas, and I recently developed an affinity for rooibos.

What if I don’t like tea?

Might I suggest trying Lemon Soleil Tea from Adagio, the Iron Goddess from Tea Vivre, Oooh Darjeeling from Adagio, or Doomni Summer Oolong from Teabox Tea. Or any tea that has been featured on my Instagram.

What about the books tho?

They’re still around, if you want to check out my archives. And I promise if I ever read a grown up book again, you will be the first to know. Otherwise, most days are spent reading these books:

What are you #currentlydrinking ?

I’ve actually been starting the morning with a fast and humble cup of Twinning’s Earl Grey Tea. In the afternoons, I’ll switch to a caffeine free rooibos like Adagio’s Rooibos Vanilla or Rooibos Pecan Turtle.

 

 

 

2018 Tea Advent Calendar from Adagio Teas

Tis the season! Well, almost. And Adagio Teas has something to make your holiday season more jolly– their 2018 tea advent calendar.

Their advent calendar has 24 doors hiding individually wrapped, loose leaf quality tea bags. Some of the teas are Adagio’s most popular blends, and some are their cozy, holiday favorites. All are 100% delicious, and I can hardly keep myself from poking through all of the doors in one sitting. I’ll give you a sneak peek behind door #1, at least.

Gingerbread tea

Adagio’s Gingerbread tea is a blend of black tea, natural gingerbread flavor, cinnamon bark, orange peels, and ginger root. When served with sugar, this tea is as delicious as a Christmastime dessert, but it doesn’t taste as spicy and gingery as the tea’s namesake suggests. The blend of spices seems muted, so the flavor doesn’t overpower the tongue, but it’s still perfect for a morning baking cookies or decorating the tree.  The addition of the sugar draws out an unexpected warmth and creaminess that transforms this cup of tea into a truly cozy experience. This holiday tea can’t be missed.

If you’re looking for a fun and cozy advent calendar for this Christmas, be sure to head over to Adagio Teas to snag one!

This advent calendar was received for free in exchange for a review.

Goodbye October

If I thought life moved fast before, adding a child into the mix makes life move in hyper speed. I can’t believe Oliver turns one month in just a few days. Parenthood is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I haven’t even gotten to the challenging part yet (which I assume is adolescence). I mean, look at him. He’s giving me so much side-eye. It’s like he knows I’m incompetent at this parenthood thing.

What I’ve learned so far:

  1. I knew nothing of anxiety before. Those times when I had to talk myself up just to take the laundry down to the laundry unit at the apartment or those times when I had to write out a script before making a phone call seem laughable to me now. That’s nothing compared to the time Oliver spit up so much that milk cake out his nose, and he started choking. Or the first time I had to drive him to a doctor’s appointment by myself. Or you know, bringing him home for the first time.
  2. Similarly, I don’t think I’ve been so aware of human mortality. I can’t keep track of how many times I check him just to make sure he’s still breathing.
  3. The advice “sleep when baby sleeps” is good advice assuming baby sleeps anywhere other than your arms. That being said, the stars have aligned these last two days, and I was able to take THREE three-hour naps. I’m handling the exhaustion better (and with almost no caffeine aside from a fun sized candy bar or two). That being said, in the throes of sleep deprivation, I became really frustrated while changing his diaper because he wouldn’t stop wailing, so I said to him, “I’m really mad at you”. I still feel guilty about it even though I know he didn’t hear me on account of his screams were as loud as a space shuttle launching into space.
  4. Speaking of diapers, I thought I’d be more grossed out by the various bodily fluids my son expels. On to me. Now it’s just mostly annoying because I have to do so much laundry.
  5. I remember during the first week, I cried during one of Oliver’s five-hour cluster feeding sessions because I had gone from full-time accountant to full-time food bag. Now I realize how hard returning to work will be. I planned to return after six weeks, but I pushed my return date back two weeks. Even that doesn’t seem like a sufficient amount of time, and I can’t help but dwell on how purposeless accounting seems now compared to being a food bag.

#currentlyreading

The one perk that comes with sleep deprivation (aside from bonding with baby) is I’m spending a lot more time reading. The books that are keeping me company right now are:

Fascism: a Warning by Madeleine Albright: This book isn’t easy to read in the wee hours of the morning, so I wait until my eyelids aren’t drooping to dive in to this non-fiction novel. Albright explores fascism in the early 20th century and draws parallels with contemporary world leaders.

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers: I bought this book probably two years ago, and I just sat down to start reading it the other night. I wish I would have read this book sooner. So far, I’m loving the blend of fantasy and historical fiction. It reminds me of Skyrim’s Dark Brotherhood if it existed in the high court of Brittany instead.

October Teaviews

I’ve also started to work my way through my extensive tea collection hoard. Seriously, I have over 100 different types of tea in my cupboards/pantry/just sitting on my kitchen floor.

Faerie Garden tea from Dryad Tea: Spearmint, Peppermint, Lavender, Heather, Cornflower Petals, Cinnamon (all organic). You can read my review here, but this interesting blend of mint and cinnamon is worth mentioning again

Teaster Marshmallow Tea from Adagio: green rooibos tea, apple pieces, candy sprinkles, vanilla creme flavor, marigold flowers, and apricots. My greatest impulse purchase (this year) occurred around Easter. I had a promotional email from Adagio that prompted me to go on a scavenger hunt on their website for a chance to win a free bag of their Teaster Marshmallow tea. Not only do I not usually drink rooibos tea, but I also did not need any of the other teas I purchased that day (because you know…free shipping). But, OMG this tea! From it’s colorful Easter sprinkles to its vanilla creme flavor— I might be obsessed. A spoonful of sugar takes it to a whole new level. It really is like a marshmallow peep, except there is less self-loathing after finishing a bag of the Teaster Marshmallow tea.

Dawn Tea from Turmeric Tea: Assam Black Tea, Cinnamon, Ginger, Turmeric Root, Cardamom, Black and Pink Pepper Corns. I had high hopes for this tea. Just look at that beautiful blend! I expected it to be spicy and for flavors of cinnamon and ginger to explode on my tongue, but it ended up being a rather mild spiced chai. The dominant flavor was cinnamon, which I can’t complain about though.

Books on my Radar

There is just one book I added to my TBR list this month, which is the Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton. I’ve seen this book on just about everyone’s instagram feed lately.

From Goodreads: In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe’s life is in ruins.

Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of an arresting-looking woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist’s sketchbook containing the drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river.

Told by multiple voices across time, The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a story of murder, mystery, and thievery, of art, love and loss. And flowing through its pages like a river, is the voice of a woman who stands outside time, whose name has been forgotten by history, but who has watched it all unfold: Birdie Bell, the clockmaker’s daughter.

 

How was your October? What are you currently reading, and what books did you add to your wishlist this month?

More on Maine | a travel guide to Portland, Maine part 2

Eating donuts, BBQ, pizza slices the size of my head, and playing pinball barely scratch the surface of what we did during our vacation in Maine last year. If you’re planning a trip to Portland, Maine, be sure to check out these places as well:

Where to Stay

Inn at St. John | 939 Congress St. Portland, ME 04102

The Inn at St. John is Portland’s oldest, continuously operated inn. It’s an old, Victorian building  located on the northwest side of downtown Portland, which is fairly removed from where most of the restaurants, shops, and nightlife are located– about a 25 minute walk. What initially drew us to this hotel was the price; the Inn at St. John is about $100/night cheaper than the rest of the hotels in the city. What would keep us coming back (aside from the price) is the incredibly kind hotel staff, the most comfortable bed ever, and these cozy bathrobes! The Inn at St. John comes so highly recommended on Trip Advisor and Google, and it’s worth every star. Plus, the savings in hotel accommodations allowed us to splurge in other areas.

Inn at Diamond Cove | 22 McKinley Ct. Portland, ME 04109

We spent a few days in downtown Portland, Maine, and then we hopped a ferry out to Great Diamond Island to stay at the Inn at Diamond Cove. The stars must have aligned because when we arrived, we learned that we got a free upgrade from our King Room to a King Suite. Aside from a king size bed that swallowed us whole and a shower with the dreamiest shower head ever, which would have come with the room we booked, the suite also had a kitchenette stocked with dishes and cookware, a dining area, a balcony, and a living room. I have never stayed in such luxury before, and I swear, it was bigger than the apartment we were living in at the time.

The Inn at Diamond Cove also offers a lot of extra amenities like bicycle rentals (since motor vehicles were not allowed on the island), a recreation room with duckpin bowling, ping pong, and PINBALL(!!!), tennis courts, an indoor basketball court, a pool and hot tub, and so much more.

To top off the experience, Inn at Diamond Cove had some of the nicest staff, and the greeting at the ferry when we arrived set the tone for the customer service experience. One of the staff members helped us load up our luggage into a golf cart and drove us to the hotel; along the way, she gave us a little history about the island and pointed out places to check out as we explored the island ourselves. I also recall spending all evening downstairs at the lobby bar drinking Moscow Mules and chatting with the bartender. (True story: one of them went to school at Western Michigan University, which is my alma mater; small world, right?!)

Where to Eat

Bayside American Cafe | 98 Portland St. Portland, ME 04101

Jon is notorious for packing the wrong kind of shoes for walking during vacation, so by the end of the first day, his feet were aching. Later in the week, when I suggested we walk to Bayside American Cafe for breakfast, which was a mile away from the hotel, he made sure to express his displeasure. And then, when we arrived we discovered we had to stand in line just to get a table at this popular brunch place. The trek and the wait was worth it though; Bayside served the best breakfast we had the pleasure of eating while in Portland. Make sure to try their Classic Eggs Benedict and Rocket Fuel coffee. And if you’re in need of a little hair of the dog, try out their Absolution, which is a mimosa with Absolute Raspberry and a splash of grenadine or the Honeymoon, which is Maine Meadworks wildflower honey mead and Brut champagne.

The 5 Spot | 935 Congress St. Portland, ME 04102

When hunger struck us late at night, and we were too tired to trek to the east side of downtown Portland, we walked next door to the 5 Spot for authentic Philly Cheesesteaks (the kind made with cheese wiz). I also had my first taste of Moxie, which was an experience in itself. Moxie starts out tasting like root beer but then morphs in to something herbaceous and medicinal. I liked it, but I might be in the minority.

Hot Suppa | 703 Congress St. Portland, ME 04102

If you find yourself craving grits while in Maine, make sure to visit Hot Suppa for some Southern-inspired cooking. Even if you’re not craving grits, go to this restaurant and order their impeccable Geechie Boy grits. I also had my first taste of kombucha here; I’ve never seen that on a menu before.

Gelato Fiasco | 425 Fore St. Portland, ME 04101

Is any vacation complete if you don’t consume at least one scoop of ice cream or gelato? Probably not, which is why you should visit Gelato Fiasco. The Gelato Fiasco offers irresistible flavors like Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Gelato, Maine Wild Blueberry Crisp Gelato, and Torched Marshmallow S’More Gelato. Side note: I just learned that Gelato Fiasco ships their Gelato nationwide. Be still my beating heart!

Inn at Great Diamond Cove (Lobby Bar) | 22 McKinley Ct. Portland, Me 04109

On top of living in luxury for a few days at the Inn at Great Diamond Cove, we also feasted like kings. Jon ordered the lobster roll for lunch and dinner, and if it were offered for breakfast, I’m sure he would have ordered it then too.

Things to Do

Portland Museum of Art | 7 Congress Sq. Portland, ME 04101

The Portland Art Museum is perhaps one of the best art museums I’ve visited. Sure, I’ve been to the Art Institute of Chicago, and sure, that collection is incredible. But, if you’re looking for a well-curated collection that you can view in one day, the Portland Museum of Art has it. I think my favorite part of the PMA collection was the pieces showcasing Maine’s artists.

The Green Hand Book Shop | 661 Congress St. Portland, ME 04101

The Green Hand Book Shop offers an eclectic collection of second-hand books. There seemed to be a book for every kind of customer. I found myself drawn to the children’s book section because it had so many books I remember reading when I was four or five. I didn’t leave empty handed…

Soakology | 511 Congress St. Portland, ME 04101

Remember when I said Jon is notorious for packing the wrong kind of shoes? Well, after dragging him a mile to breakfast, I promised him a foot soak and massage at Soakology. We also got to sip on hot tea while relaxing. Jon had a refreshing ginger mint tea, and I had an enticing pine smoked black tea. Jon experienced a second wind after that, and he wasn’t so grumpy as I dragged him around the city more.