Celebrating 31 with Birthday Tea!

I’m starting my 31st birthday off with a cup of Birthday Tea from Adagio Teas. This super special blend of black tea, caramel flavoring, sugar sprinkles, vanilla flavoring, and Creme flavoring is a treat I look forward to every year. It’s not available for sale on the Adagio Teas website; they slide a sample pack into your shipment if you order during your birth month (and you already have an account with them).

I love this tea sweetened because it tastes like just a like sweet birthday treat. The caramel, vanilla, and cream flavors compliment the black tea nicely.

As for turning 31…well, it’s strange being IN my 30s, but I’m excited to find out what this year has in store for me. I want to make friendship, family, community, and my health a priority this year. Becoming part of the community where I live and finding friendship is terrifying to me, and I don’t really know where to begin. But, I’m already off to a good start for health and family. I have a doctors appointment today (who schedules doctor appointments on their birthday?), and Jon, Oliver, and I are going to the fair tonight!

Going to the fair is one of my birthday traditions (as well as drinking Birthday Tea). Do you have any birthday traditions?

Looking for a dessert tea? Try these:

Té alla Rosa Bianca from Tea Fiori

Shut the front door! Did Té alla Rosa Bianca from Tea Fiori just make me a fan of white tea?

For years, I’ve avoided white tea. That’s not to say it hasn’t somehow managed to find its way into my collection throughout the years. It’s usually the flavored varieties that end up in my online shopping cart because I’m not paying attention. Or because I’ve convinced myself this time will be different. But the outcome is the same every time. I end up with a mug of tea that tastes just like hot water. Or a mug of tea that tastes like hot water and blueberries because I somehow get a new packet of White Blueberry from Adagio Teas every year.

It leaves me wondering: is it the quality of my water? Is it the quality of the tea? Am I more inept at brewing tea than I realize? Did I assault my tastebuds with strong, black coffee too much during college that I am unable to pick up the delicate aromas in white tea? Is it an unlucky combination of all four?

Té alla Rosa Bianca is a simple blend of organic Bai Mudan White Tea and organic rose petals and buds. The appearance of the tea is as lovely as the scent of the dried tea, which was of sweet rose.

When I first tried Té alla Rosa Bianca, I drank it hot, following the directions on the packaging very carefully– 1 tbsp of tea, 180 degrees, 3 minutes. However, I wasn’t impressed. The overall flavor seemed to be peppery hot water with an ambiguous floral aroma that I had to search for. I prepared this tea the same way two more times almost willing myself to love it, but the results remained the same.

Everything changed when I decided to cold brew the remainder of my sample though.

I didn’t note how much leaf to water ratio for my cold brew. I don’t even remember how long I let it steep, but if I had to guess, it was around 4 hours. Honestly? I was so intent to use up the rest of the tea that I just dumped it in a mug and called it a day.

But oh…what a beautiful cold brew this tea made. The first flavor to surface was a delicate, peppery flavor, and it was soon followed by refreshing cucumber and sweet summertime rose. It conjured up images of lush perennial gardens, sunshine peeking through cozy cottage windows, and afternoon tea. And I swear, the theme song to the Great British Bake-Off could be heard somewhere in the distance.

Never before have I been so delighted to have sipped on a white tea. This very experience has completely challenged my reluctance to drink it, and I am suddenly filled with the desire to explore this type of tea that I’ve long neglected! (After I sip down my collection that is already bursting at the seams, that is).

I must know! What are your favorite white teas?

Chili Lime Coconut Green from Adagio Teas

Are you looking for a little adventure in your cup of tea? Then check out the new Chili Lime Coconut Green from Adagio Teas. It will make your skull sweat!

Adagio’s Chili Lime Coconut Green is a blend of green tea, chili pepper, lemon grass, apple pieces, coconut, orange, key lime pie flavor, safflower, and natural coconut flavor.

Loose Leaf Chili Lime Coconut Green Tea from Adagio Teas

I went in to this experience not really knowing what to expect. I’ve certainly had savory green teas before, like a gen maicha or a sencha. But with the citrus flavors, the apple, and the coconut in this blend, I thought this was going to be a sweet and spicy tea. I was very, very wrong, so when expectations and reality didn’t match, it affected my first experience with this tea. That is to say, “I was happy to try it, but I wouldn’t be quick to drink it again”. I am happy to say, this tea is growing on me.

Adagio’s Chili Lime Green Tea is very much a savory tea– one very reminiscent of a green curry because of the coconut, lemongrass, chili flakes, and lime flavoring. And luckily for me, that’s my favorite kind of curry!

The most prominent flavor in the Chili Lime Coconut Green is the creamy coconut, and of course the spice from the chili flakes will catch you in the back of the throat each sip. This tea is definitely spicy, but it’s not a spice that lingers. Finishing notes are bright citrus flavors, especially lime, which brings a brightness and acidity to balance out this blend. The Adagio Teas website mentions that the coconut offers a sweetness to finish rounding out the cup, but I’m not picking that up as I sip.

The Chili Lime Coconut Green isn’t an everyday drink, but it is a fun way to spice up the afternoons! (See what I did there?)

Have you ever tried a spicy tea before?

If you can’t handle the spice, check out this tea instead:

Cotton Candy Rooibos from DavidsTea

I generally consider myself level-headed when it comes to finances…except when it comes to tea. Then I am guilty of being impulsive. I’m supposed to be on a tea buying ban, remember? Except I indulged in the DavidsTea semi-annual sale. And…can I let you in on a secret? I only shared half my haul. (Don’t judge me!)

It’s not like I needed any of the tea. Nor had I been eying any of the teas in the collection for any amount of time (except Forever Nuts!). I just picked out teas to try haphazardly, which I’m sure is why the Cotton Candy blend ended up in my cart.

I mean, Cotton Candy flavored tea? That’s ridiculous. How do I go from sipping a tie guan yin to a cotton candy flavored Rooibos? I never claimed to be a connoisseur, but common’!

DavidsTea Cotton candy tea

Except…the Cotton Candy Rooibos from DavidsTea is really, really good. It is a blend of Green rooibos, purple sprinkles, mango, hazelnut brittle, and natural and artificial flavoring. It’s really does taste like cotton candy, but in the best way possible. It’s sweet, ambiguously fruity, and creamy.

DavidsTea Cotton Candy Tea Latte

The drink does have a natural (“natural”) sweetness already from the Rooibos, the sprinkles, the brittle, and the mango pieces, but if you’re looking for decadence, add some milk and your favorite sweetener for liquid dessert! Or sip it iced for a fun summertime treat fit for the county fair!

Have you ever tried Cotton Candy Rooibos from DavidsTea? Or what is the most frivolous tea you ever tried?

If you like Cotton Candy from DavidsTea, check out these other sweet dessert teas:

Forever Nuts from DavidsTea

Forever Nuts from Davids Tea is a fan favorite. It is one of their best sellers, and lauded as a “gold standard” for herbal/fruit infusions by many of my favorite tea vloggers, so I gave in to peer pressure and purchased a bag for myself during DavidsTea’s recent semi-annual sale.

Forever Nuts is a blend of Apple, almonds, cinnamon, beetroot, and artificial flavoring, and the moment I opened the bag, I was greeted with the warming scent of nuts and sugary sweet cinnamon and vanilla; it smelled just like the candied nut vendor’s stall at the county fair.

I sipped this tea iced and with just a splash of milk, although it tastes equally delicious when sipped hot as well. And this tea is total eye-candy! Because of the beetroot, Forever Nuts steeps to a fun, vivid pink.

The flavor of the tea is very similar to the scent of the tea– very much like candied nuts. Or even like the crumble on top of an apple crumble! It’s nutty and sweet and there are cinnamon and creamy vanilla flavors that come through as well. This tea makes me wish Autumn were already here! (Then again, I wish it was always Autumn, so…)

Forever Nuts tea was such a treat, and I’m already looking forward to buying another (much bigger) bag of this as Autumn draws near.

Have you ever tried Forever Nuts, and what did you think of it?

Muzha Tie Guan Yin from Masters Teas

If you have been a fan of Adagio Teas for any length of time, surely you have heard about their Masters Teas. It’s been a relatively small collection of hand-processed, premium teas, and to be honest, even though I knew they existed (and even purchased some Formosa Ali Shan Oolong), it’s a section of their site that has a tendency to fly under my radar. I find myself more easily distracted by their more robust collection of colorful blended teas. But now, Adagio Teas has launched a sister site to give their premium teas the attention they deserve.

Introducing… MastersTeas.com

Masters Teas offers direct-from-the-farm teas, and to ensure freshness, tea is processed in small batches and only becomes available on the website upon harvest. This means, you might see “coming soon” on product pages from time to time. Masters Teas also embodies the Roots Campaign, which encourages tea drinkers to “Know Your Farmers”. Each tea page provides information about the tea’s geographical origin as well as the tea farmer; Masters Teas strives to put a name and a face with the tea.

I had the wonderful opportunity to try some tea samples (for free in exchange for reviews), and I’m eager to share my experience with you. I debated recording a video for today’s post but decided to take it slow instead. I decided to go back to my roots and just write. It’s a process that makes me feel nostalgic. It reminds me of slow, Saturday mornings back when Jon and I first moved in with each other. Back before crazy, stressful jobs. Back before a mortgage and trying to decide if we should replace the roof. Back before we had two cats that wake me up in the middle of the night. Back before baby. Mornings were just quieter back then. As were afternoons, evenings, 1 AM, and 3 AM.

Back then, Jon worked Saturdays, so I would start my day with a cup of coffee while soaking in the brisk Autumn air out on the balcony. (For some reason, it’s always Autumn when I reminisce about the apartment.) Then, I would go to the library and spend an hour trekking through stacks, searching for books to read. Then, I would come home, put the kettle on, photograph the books I would never actually finish reading, and then I would write about tea. I’d write out my tasting notes, sure, but more importantly, I would reflect on how I would experience the tea, how it would make me feel, and definitely the weather. (I can’t tell if the weather was used to create atmosphere, or if I’m just so guarded that even in my writing, I couldn’t move past small talk). Still, some of my favorite pieces of writing came from those slow Saturday mornings, sipping tea.

I shuffled through a selection of eight teas before settling on a familiar, yet wholly different Muzha Tie Guan Yin. This kind of oolong is no strangers here on my blog, though the ones I’ve tried in the past were from the Anxi region in China and were only lightly roasted. The Muzha Tie Guan Yin from Masters Teas comes from Wen Shen, Taiwan, and compared to its Anxi cousin, it’s highly roasted, which impacts both the physical appearance and the tasting experience.

The dried tea leaves are a dark, muddy brown color. The leaves are tightly rolled, but unfurl to full leaves after steeping. The smell is of minerals and wet grass clippings that are slightly composted, and makes me think of rainy, late-springtime afternoons. After steeping, the wet leaves smell charred, vegetal, and like dark salad greens.

I steeped this tea three times, as recommended by the Masters Teas website, at 212 degrees starting at three minutes and increasing the steep time one minute with each subsequent steep.

Steep One:

The color of the liquor is the color of golden syrup, and it has buttery and spiced aromas with sweet blossom undertones. The tea has a medium-to-full bodied mouthfeel, and it is not nearly as astringent as I anticipated. The predominant taste is of buttered rice with mineral undertones. The butter rice flavor stays with you long after you sip, too.

Steep Two:

The liquor is still golden syrup-colored, but it smells smokey instead of buttery. The mouthfeel is still medium bodied, but again it lacks the butteriness that was present in the first steep. It also is slightly more astringent than the first steep. The flavors do become more complex during the second steep though. I tasted dry grass clippings. I tasted a spiced flavor that came through after the tea sat on my tongue for a while– earthy cinnamon. I tasted light, powdery blossoms as the tea began to cool.

Steep Three:

The final steep had a medium-to-light body, and a flavor that reminded me of dried clover and hay from late summertime. (Maybe something akin to the Chunmee Green tea I tried recently).

Overall, the Muzha Tie Guan Yin was a beautiful tea with complex flavors that peaked during the second steeping and one that I I can’t wait to experience again. If you are interested in premium, direct-from-farm teas, make sure you check out Mastersteas.com. Also, stay tuned because I have several more teas from Masters Teas to try out. I’m especially looking forward to the Formosa Ruby 18 Black tea, the Sincha Genmai Cha, and the Yu Qian Anji Bai Cha.

Motor City Comic Con 2019

I don’t think I have ever openly declared my nerdom here on my blog, but I have demonstrated it here, here, here, and here. Now however, I would like to declare it:

I. Am. A. Nerd.

Like a stay-up-well-past-my-bedtime-even-though-my-infant-son-has-me-sleep-deprived-so-I-can-sneak-in-some-video-game-playtime kind of nerd. Or a I-lost-track-of-how-many-times-I’ve-read-Harry-Potter-kind-of-nerd. Or a I-used-to-write-Lord-of-the-Rings-fan-fic kind of nerd. I can’t believe I just admitted to that last one, but you’re beginning to see the picture I hope. And, now I can add to this list: a visited-the-Motor-City-Comic-Con kind of nerd!

A couple of weeks ago, Jon and I visited the Motor City Comic Con, and it goes down as one of the coolest things we’ve done together.  Over 60,000 people visit the Motor City Comic Con over a weekend, and the convention floor is filled with comic book vendors, artists, cosplayers, celebrity guests, tabletop games, and celebrity guest-led panels.

Since this was our first comic con, we were a bit overwhelmed when we first arrived, but shortly we found our home in artist alley. We spent most of our time (and perhaps way too much money) they, but it was rows upon rows of artists and crafters selling fandom-inspired prints and coasters and comics and candles and postcards.

Here were some of my favorite pieces of artwork:

I love these clever pop culture mash-ups by Steve Jencks, especially Robocop replacing the Tin Man on the yellow brick road and Alien preparing to dine on ALF, while ALF prepares to dine on a cat. [WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM]

Okay, okay, so Jon may have chosen the wrestler prints, and I may have chosen the X-Files print, but I still love how they looks like the covers of comic books. Artwork by Erik Hodson [INSTAGRAM]

These images hardly do the artwork by Sean Anderson justice. What you don’t see are the metallic and holographic leaf elements that make his superhero artwork truly impressive. He also had a series of superheroes set against Detroit landmarks, which was cool to browse through. [INSTAGRAM]

The artwork by Andrew Heath was perhaps my favorite. I loved it so much that along with a TARDIS print I also purchased a book of his artwork to display on the coffee table (that I will some day soon buy). [WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM]

As much as I loved Artist Alley, I know we missed out on the cosplay contests, and I would have loved to visit some of the guest panels (especially the Doctor Who After Hours event!) but, toting around Oliver made that challenging to do. Maybe we can look forward to that next year though.

Have you ever been to a comic con? What are some of your favorite fandoms?

Tea Review: Rooibos Pecan Turtle from Adagio Teas (plus 4 tasTEA recommendations!)

 

I haven’t always appreciated rooibos tea. I’ve struggled to put into words exactly what I sense when I’ve sip this type of tea, and the best I’ve been able to come up with to describe my experience is something between imitation vanilla extract and tobacco– not always the most appealing of flavors. However, Adagio Teas has changed my mind about Rooibos teas, and lately I have not been able to drink enough of it! Their Rooibos Pecan Turtle is quickly becoming a new favorite, just like their Vanilla Rooibos.

Adagio’s Rooibos Pecan Turtle is a blend of rooibos tea, apple pieces, cocoa nibs, cinnamon, dark chocolate chips, chicory, golden pecan flavor, natural caramel flavor, natural chocolate flavor, and marigold flowers. A bit of sugar, turns this caffeine-free tea into a perfect after dinner dessert.

Have you tried the Rooibos Pecan Turtle from Adagio Teas? What did you think of it? If you’re looking for more dessert teas, check out these tasTEA recommendations:

 

Taste Test: Cacao Husk Tea

Back in December, Tea in Spoons hosted a Tea Sparrow teas giveaway, which I won (yay!) So first, thank you for the opportunity.

Second, if you haven’t heard of Tea Sparrow, please go check them out! Tea Sparrow is a tea subscription service, and for $20 a month, subscribers receive 4 loose leaf teas to explore– one black tea, one green tea, one Rooibos tea, and one herbal tea.

The first tea I tried from Tea Sparrow was the Nut Crunch Rooibos, and it was especially dreamy as a latte. But, the tea I was most curious about was the Cacao Husk Tea!

Cacao Husk Tea is…well, pretty self-explanatory. It’s tea made from the shells of the cocoa bean that would have otherwise been discarded. The Cacao Husk boasts an antioxidant and vitamin-rich, mood-boosting, caffeine free cuppa while tasting like a mug of hot chocolate.

 

So does Cacao Husk Tea live up to its reputation? According to my tastebuds…not so much*. Check out the YouTube video at the top of this post for more thoughts on this unique tea. Have you ever tried Cacao Husk Tea before? What did you think of it? I still have some Cacao Husk Tea left, so if you have any pointers on how to brew it, I would love to hear them!

* I feel the need to offer a disclaimer here: my feelings on Cacao Tea are not a reflection of Tea Sparrow or the product they deliver. This one just comes down to preference. Some people prefer black teas, some people prefer green teas. I prefer tea that is not the Cacao Husk!

 

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?