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Trader Joe’s Tea Selection – Still Not There Yet – SpontaneiTea

Alex Zorach's Tea Blog - 8 hours 36 min ago
This is a recovered blog post from SpontaneiTea, a blog that used to be hosted on Tea Trade, but went down when that site's blog hosting was discontinued. The original post was published on July 18th, 2013.

About a year and a half ago, I wrote about Trader Joe’s tea on my old tea blog.

I shop regularly, but infrequently at Trader Joe’s, mainly picking up items like canned clams, bulk bags of raw nuts, and cheese. There are some things I absolutely love about Trader Joe’s: many of the products I like most (and buy most) are ones that I think offer exceptional value, combining low price with consistently high quality.

Some of the cheeses cost almost half what I’d expect to pay for a cheese of similar quality: there’s a New Zealand grass-fed cheddar for around $5 a pound, and for closer to $4 you can get domestic cheddars that far surpass the quality I have been able to find in a typical supermarket. And there are other little details that keep me coming back…the 500 gram bar of 70% dark chocolate for under $5, jars of Kalamata olives that taste great and are really cheap, $1 CLIF bars. I even like some of their packaged bread.

A decent company, treating their employees well

In addition to this, I have a decent feeling about Trader Joe’s as a corporation: I’ve known many people who have worked there and they have all told me that the company treats their employees well.

Weaknesses of Trader Joe’s

In other areas though, Trader Joe’s really falls short. Their seafood selection is not the most sustainable, as assessed by my looking up of their offerings on the Seafood Watch website. And I’m not a huge fan of their produce, although they sometimes have things I think are worth buying. And tea is yet another part of the store where their selection just doesn’t do it for me:


The tea selection at my local Trader Joe's

The selection changes somewhat over time, but the gist of it has stayed the same since I discovered this chain back around 2006. The tea is all cheap, for what it is, $2 for a box of teabags that would probably cost closer to $3 in a typical supermarket, but the problem is what it is: low-quality tea in tea bags. There is no loose-leaf tea, and there isn’t any tea that I would consider high-quality artisan tea. As much as I prefer loose tea, there are some very good brands of high-quality, whole-leaf or at least larger-broken-leaf tea in sachets, including Two Leaves Tea, Novus Tea, or even predominately loose-leaf brands like Rishi or Adagio.

Brands I’d prefer to the selection offered

Even if Trader Joe’s were going to stick with basic tea bags, I think they could do better. In my old post, I recommended Ten Ren, Foojoy, Harney and Sons, and Jacksons of Piccadilly as companies that offer much higher-quality tea bags than anything I’ve ever tried from Trader Joe’s. Ten Ren and Foojoy really stand out as their prices are competitive with Trader Joe’s teas, suggesting Trader Joe’s could stock them as-is.

And can’t they sell at least one loose tea? Even most supermarkets have something, maybe Lipton’s loose black tea or Twinings Earl Grey.

What do you think?

Do you ever shop at Trader Joe’s? How do you feel about the chain as a whole?
If you’ve tried it, do you like the tea in Trader Joe’s?
Would you like Trader Joe’s to stock loose tea?
What do you think of my recommendations of the brands that I think are superior (both in terms of quality and value) to what Trader Joe’s offers? Do you agree? Or would you have a different perspective on what brands might be a better choice?

Friday Roundup: June 18th - 24th

Tea For Me Please - 11 hours 39 min ago
Last week felt a bit weird as World Tea Expo was happening in Las Vegas but I wasn't there. This is the first expo that I've missed since 2014 so I avidly followed social media and blog posts to stay up to date. This roundup is dedicated to posts reporting on this special event. I'll be sure to add in any WTE centric posts if more pop up in my feed later.

The Tea and Hat Lady
Wrap-Up of  2017 World Tea Expo

My Japanese Green Tea
World Tea Expo 2017

Cwyn's Death by Tea
Mojun Fucha Fu Zhuan
2004 CNNP Yiwu Arbor Brick Royal Tea New York

Oolong Owl
2017 World Tea Expo Day 1 – Oolong Owl Hooty Tea Travels
2017 World Tea Expo Day 2 – Oolong Owl Hooty Tea Travels
2017 World Tea Expo Day 3 – Oolong Owl Hooty Tea Travels
2017 World Tea Expo Haul – Oolong Owl Hooty Tea Travels
2017 World Tea Expo Trends and Thoughts – Oolong Owl Hooty Tea Travels

Did you go to World Tea Expo this year? Let me know about your impressions in the comments!

Blast from the past: Recipe for kukicha citrus sole

T Ching - 14 hours 44 min ago

I often combine my passions and this tea adventure – a combination of tea and food – was no different.  Kukicha, a green tea, has great citrus notes that I thought would go well with the fish I was going to make for dinner.  The marinade I describe below can be made with any tea and ingredients you desire.  The beauty of cooking with tea is that once you learn the basics, you can incorporate them into your favorite recipes.  I used the first infusion for the marinade and I drank the second with dinner.

Ingredients

The kukicha marinade
2 tablespoons of Rishi Tea Organic Kukicha green tea (I can’t help but love Rishi!)
8 ounces of water
1 orange
1 lime
1 lemon
Grated ginger (to taste)
¼ cup of chopped cilantro
1 sliced jalapeno
3 sprigs of green onion, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

The rest
1-1/2 pounds of wild-caught Pacific Sole fillets
1-1/2 cups of shiitake mushrooms
½ cup of oyster mushrooms
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons of butter
Dash of salt and pepper

Prepared rice

Instructions

1.    Set oven to 350 F.

2.    Make Kukicha green tea.
a.    Boil water (212 F).
b.    Let water cool to 185 F.
c.    Add 2 tablespoons of tea to 8 ounces of water.
d.    Steep 2-3 minutes.
e.    Pour tea into a bowl.
f.    Make Kukicha green tea.

3.    Make Kukicha marinade.
a.    Squeeze the juice of 1 orange, 1 lime, and 1 lemon into the bowl with the brewed Kukicha.
b.    Grate a piece of ginger.
c.    Add the chopped cilantro, chopped green onions, and sliced jalapeno.
d.    Add a dash of salt and pepper.
e.    Set aside half a cup of the marinade for the mushrooms and bell peppers; the rest is for the fish.

4.    Bake fish.
a.    Place cleaned fish in a shallow baking dish.
b.    Add a dash of salt and pepper to each fillet.
c.    Pour the marinade over each fillet.
d.    Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
e.    Lay each fillet on a greased, flat baking sheet.
f.    Bake for 20 minutes, or until the fish is opaque.

5.    Saute vegetables.
a.    Melt butter and add the chopped garlic.
b.    Saute the garlic, and then add the mushrooms and bell peppers.
c.    Saute for 2 minutes and add the remaining marinade.
d.    Cook for an additional 3 minutes.

Serve with rice and enjoy!!!

Make your second infusion of tea and enjoy with dinner!

The post Blast from the past: Recipe for kukicha citrus sole appeared first on T Ching.

Take A Walk On The Dude Side- King Dragon Oolong fro Wendigo Tea. . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 23:00
When Nichole (Cuppageek) described this tea as “something to behold” in her round-up review of favorites , I knew I had to get on board. Therefore, when I found this in my packet of samples, I got right on it! This tea has a rich mineral leather/earth taste. It’s a far cry from my usual sweet teas; this is more of a dudely beef jerky/UFC fighter type of vibe. I daresay it’s MEATY. In fact, the very first thing I thought upon sipping this was “the manly side of the gym.” (Sure, you can feel free to say “everyone uses all Read More

Zesty Ginger Lime from Storehouse Teas. . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 17:00
Summer is pretty much exclusively iced tea season for me– and frankly, if it can’t be cold-brewed, it probably isn’t going to get much love in my tea cabinet during the warmer months. So when this little unassuming gem showed up in my most recent sample stash, it wasn’t even a question that I’d be brewing it cold. The ginger and the lime immediately pop in the cold brew, with hints of lemongrass lingering behind. This one lived up to its name (“zesty” indeed!) and was fantastic with a splash of lemonade stirred in right before sipping. It’s the perfect Read More

Raw Puerh from Teaspec. . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 13:03
This is my second voyage with Teaspec’s Puerh.  I tried their Ripe Puerh earlier this week and was quite surprised how much I enjoyed the dark robust earthy tones. I was excited to check out the Raw Puerh that Teaspec had so graciously allowed The SororiTea Sisters to check out. Allowed to brew and cool for a moment, this tea was just as exciting as the Ripe Puerh.  Unlike the Ripe version, this puerh gave me a lovely smooth rich tangy flavor.  Incredibly well balanced.  The earthy dark notes were still present but not as strong as the Ripe.  There Read More

Screw Cancer!

T Ching - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 12:43

Despite over 5,000 international studies expounding the health benefits of tea, there still appear to be some questions…….not sure how that can happen, but our FDA isn’t happy with natural products. No profits to be made there. Give them pharmaceuticals and they’re giddy. Plants, not so much.

A long time tea health enthusiast and recent World Tea Expo award winner of the Best Health Advocate 2017 award, Maria Uspenski has generously made her Tea Wellness Lifestyle Guide available to the masses by subscribing to her newsletter. It’s part of her recent book, Cancer Hates Tea.

Through this informative guide, you can learn the nuts and bolts of keeping your body cancer free and giving it the finger if you’ve already succumbed.

This well written guide is suitable for everyone who wants to include tea into their healthy lifestyle. 4 cups a day and you’re good to go. Maria makes terrific suggestions how to get that amount into your daily routine. I especially like starting my morning with a daily tea ritual and then the afternoon tea break helps with any drop in energy after a busy, harried day. This comprehensive guide should be part of everyones lifestyle management program toward optimal health and wellness.

Well done Maria and thanks for sharing. Maria is also the owner of the Tea Spot which is another terrific tea resource. She’s created lots of innovative ways to making brewing whole leaf tea easy and effortless.

The post Screw Cancer! appeared first on T Ching.

Watermelon Oolong from Gypsy Soul Tea Co. . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 06/21/2017 - 23:00
I’m not really a watermelon fan, you guys. I know. Have I even earned the right to review this tea?! Stick with me, and I’ll clarify– I like the FLAVOR of watermelon. Fresh, juicy, summery– it’s delightful. But something about the texture of watermelon gets me– it’s kinda mealy, super watery (duh), and while I love its natural flavor, it’s often super light and diluted, and I just wish it wasn’t quite so… subdued. This tea from Gypsy Soul takes all the things I dislike about watermelon, eradicates them in one fell swoop, highlights my fave (that tangy, fruity flavor!) Read More

Ginger and Citrus Green Tea from Palais des Thés. . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 06/21/2017 - 17:00
My thoughts when I checked my next sample to review…”Argh! Ginger is the first word!” The anguished scream is because ginger and I have a strange relationship. I like a hint of ginger adding sparkle to tea or cookies or food. But when there is a lot of ginger, it makes me cry a little. It can be so hot! And when you add to that the fact that I have to carry spicy ginger candy to help with my lifelong stomach issues, you can see where I don’t excited to see it in my tea. My fears were unfounded Read More

Teavivre Organic Hangzhou Tian Mu Qing Ding Green Tea 2017

Tea For Me Please - Wed, 06/21/2017 - 16:00

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: downy buds with one or two larger leaves
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 185 degrees
Preparation Method: glass gaiwan
Liquor: pale, greenish gold

I thought the first day of summer was a perfect time to write about a fresh-as-can-be green tea. This one was only just picked on April 10th. It's not quite a pre-qing ming pluck but pretty darned close. The name of this tea is quite a mouthful so let's break things down a bit. Hangzhou is usually known for Dragonwell but many other teas produced there, including Qing Ding. The name means "green summit" which describes both the color of the leaf as well as the quality. Tian Mu is the mountain where it was grown. The name means "eyes on heaven" and refers to the pools on its eastern and western peaks.

The dry leaf was beautiful to look at. My entire sample consisted of needle-like downy buds with just one or two larger leaves. They positively danced in the water while brewing, making me very glad that I opted to use a glass gaiwan. Even when unfurled they were so tiny in size that I could only get a clear picture of a single bud set by placing them on my fingertip.

Although delicate in taste, this tea was aromatic and offered a lot of complexity. It was brothy yet clean with notes of chestnut and sweet vegetables. Sugar snap peas and perfectly cooked asparagus came to mind. Floral aromas also popped up in later infusions. There was no astringency or bitterness, even when the tea was brewed for a bit longer. It yielded multiple delicious infusions when I followed Teavivre's recommended guidelines of increasing the brew time by about 20 seconds for each round.

Organic certification is not really something that I specifically look for when buying tea but it's nice to know that this tea is certified by the USDA, EU, and JAS. I've got several other new spring harvested teas from this company that I'll be sharing in the coming weeks. Have you tried this green tea or any others from Teavivre? Let me know about it in the comments!

Organic Hangzhou Tian Mu Qing Ding Green Tea sample provided for review by Teavivre.





Heavy metals in tea?

T Ching - Wed, 06/21/2017 - 12:57

Tea fields in China

We all know the health benefits of tea, and in most cases there are few side effects unless you drink in extreme quantities. Heavy metal exposure, though, can lead to a number of problems, especially with young children. Lead poisoning from paint chips is probably the most well-known, since it is present in older homes.

When it comes to contamination, tea is no different than many other foods. Much of the contamination is from the soil and air. The problem is that China has a known reputation for pollution, as evidenced by the massive smog that envelopes Beijing every year. While they are taking steps to reduce pollution, it is still a massive problem. But let’s be clear, China is not the only country with pollution problems. Some of the Chinese emissions also make their way across the ocean along the west coast of the US, contributing to west coast air quality problems as well as finding its way into oceans and contaminating fish.

GOING ORGANIC 

You might think this can be solved by going organic. In the case of heavy metals, being organic has little to no effect. A few years back, consumer reports revealed high levels of arsenic in USA grown organic brown rice. In this case the rice leached heavy metals from the soil that was from activity decades prior. Heavy metals can find their way into tea in the same way, and pretty much into any other food product regardless of organic status.

A few examples:

” […] researchers conducted an analysis of wheat grown on various farms in Belgium; based on the results, they estimate that consumers of organically grown wheat take in more than twice as much lead, slightly more cadmium, and nearly equivalent levels of mercury as consumers of wheat grown on conventional farms. “

“[…] 14 percent to 28 percent of New Zealand’s cattle (destined to be organic beef) were found to have kidney cadmium levels exceeding limits set by the New Zealand Department of Health because of a diet of plants grown in contaminated soil. Similarly, a 2007 study of Greek produce found that organic agriculture does not necessarily reduce the cadmium and lead levels in crops. As it turned out, “certified” organic cereals, leafy greens, pulses, and alcoholic beverages had slightly less heavy-metal contamination than conventional products, but “uncertified” organic products had “far larger concentrations” than conventional ones.”

TEA AND SOIL CONTAMINATION

Contamination of tea can occur by a variety of industrial activity. A big source is coal fired power plans.

It is interesting to note that India, as of 2013, derives 44% of its power from coal, biomass 23% and the nuclear, hydroelectric and renewables only 4 percent combined. China on the other hand, gets 57% from coal, while hydro, wind, solar and nuclear make up over 35% combined. So while net, China uses more coal, their “clean” energy percentage is much higher than India. Nuclear energy is expected to overtake the U.S. in 10 years, with 21 nuclear plants under construction with more planned – mainly to reduce the emissions from coal.  But, for the time being, coal is king.

RECENT STUDIES WITH TEA

These are two recent studies that talk about tea:

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jt/2013/370460/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4762913/

GEOGRAPHY

“It can be explained by the variations in Lead contamination sources of anthropogenic provenance, i.e., batteries, paints, dyes, and heavy industries. Moreover, Souza (2005) implied that 96 % of lead in the atmosphere is of anthropogenic origin.”

What does the above statement mean? Most of the lead in the atmosphere is caused by human activity. China is a large country, but not all of the country is mired in smog or near coal plants. There are many areas that are not polluted, or have nearby topography that blocks pollution from other areas.

7 of the 10 most polluted urban areas in the United States are in California. This does not mean that all California produce and wine should be ruled out (there are studies about heavy metals in wine).

The one thing that I did find is that you can find a study with negative information about almost everything. It will make you want to pull your hair out! 

One report said China acknowledged that 1/5 of its arable land was contaminated. But it doesn’t really provide much in the way of tea production. I did find a specific study in a region which is a big tea producer:

Heavy Metal Pollution in Zhejiang Provence

Their conclusion

“160 samples were in the safety domain, 12 samples in the precaution domain and only 7 samples were slightly polluted. According to the assessment map of tea soil environmental quality, up to 93% of the study area was belonged to safety domain, 6.5% belonged to the precaution domain, whereas only 0.50% area was slightly polluted domain.”

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

The first tea studies I referenced have a few things to point out:

“A limitation of this study is that this is a sample of convenience using samples readily available in supermarkets and health food stores in Canada.”

“They were purchased from various tea shops (tea of certified origin) and markets (marketed tea)”.

The first study uses samples found in supermarkets and health food stores. These are not reliable sources of tea. Why? Because big mega brands don’t always source a particular tea from the same plantation. For example, a big mega brand uses a blend of different teas from massive pallets to make their signature tea. Their blender uses his taste buds and a computer to fine tune the formula. Because their blends are measured in tons, it’s pretty hard to determine where exactly the tea comes from.

The second study is a little more reliable in that it uses tea shops as part of its source. Many smaller tea shops don’t purchase from mega distributors and often they will get tea from single source origins. But some mega brands are also on the list, so we don’t know how specific their sourcing methods are.

Here is the main thing when it comes to tea – the higher the elevation, the further away from pollutants and contaminants. Most high end loose tea is grown at higher elevation. Many teas, even non-organic, don’t require pesticides. Cheaper tea, especially in China, is more likely to be grown at lower elevations or nearer to industrial areas. 

OBSERVABLE EFFECTS

We can talk about contamination all we want, but is there any study that actually links tea consumption, or food consumption for that matter, to toxic side effects? We have situations like the minmato incident in Japan where a factory polluted the waters which resulted in people eating highly contaminated seafood many thousands of times beyond what is considered safe. This didn’t mean all Japanese seafood was off limits, just that particular area.

But as for casual exposure, that is very hard to track. Autism, for example, might have roots in heavy metal exposure. But there is no way to know exactly. You might avoid a product from one area, only to get something from another product you thought was safe. Or it could be your zip code. 

But as my research indicates, there is no uniform method for really finding out how much heavy metal exposure you are getting from food. There are a lot of causal relationships, but it’s hard to find any sort of evidence that eating certain foods resulted in specific symptoms.  Saying ‘all tea from China should be avoided’ just doesn’t have enough evidence to support. 

Discover magazine made a good point:

” Unfortunately, eliminating the source isn’t possible for most other pollutants that we breathe, eat, drink, and absorb through our skin whether we want to or not, including man-made chemicals such as phthalates and perfluorooctanoic acids, which are found in Teflon and other widespread products. The basic chemistry of these and thousands of other manufactured compounds incorporated in everyday products do not appear in nature; they have entered our environment so recently that our genes, cells, brains, and bodies have not yet evolved mechanisms for coping with them.”

RELIABLE SOURCES

People are getting more educated and have access to more information than ever before. Not all of it is actionable. I had a piece of tuna recently that had a stamp on it with a number where you could track its origin. I plugged it in and it actually showed where the fish was caught and a picture of the fishermen. Pretty cool. But apart from making me feel good, it didn’t say how many parts per million of mercury it contained.

Think of investing – you can find all sorts of good news/bad news on Yahoo finance. The authors are paid to make up some sort of story that fits what’s going on with the markets. You’d go broke if you bought and sold stock based on reading these articles. The same goes with health articles. The amount of “avoid this, eat that” is overwhelming. In reality, common sense and moderation are probably your best bet. 

WHAT TO DO WITH TEA?

Going through a purveyor that knows what they are doing is a must. Most of the network of importers that supply the smaller tea businesses are responsible and reputable. They provide lots of information about tea sourcing and most of them test the tea farms they do business with on a regular basis. Any good tea farm will also be registered for the FDA and other 3rd party western organizations that do independent verification. It’s in their best interest – customers demand better tea, and better tea will have superior taste (somehow I doubt a polluted tea will taste as good) and command higher prices. 

The larger the company, and especially if you are dealing with national grocery chains, tea becomes more obscure. Tea can be mixed with other tea, bundled in huge pallets and otherwise not traceable to a particular source. 

If you drink tea a lot, avoid grocery stores and buy from non-mass market tea companies. Good companies will have details and will be able to provide credentials if asked. Ask questions if you get hooked on a specific tea.

DIVERSIFY

Never put all your eggs in one basket. It’s probably prudent to mix your teas up – and not just drink one type, even if it’s “safe” in heavy quantities. Rotate your selections and sources and drink in moderation. It is my opinion that the health benefits of drinking quality tea far outweigh contamination risks.

IN CONCLUSION

Being selective with tea from China (and in general) will help mitigate the risks of contamination. Currently, there is not enough evidence to suggest avoiding all Chinese tea. Based on the studies, be selective and opt for the higher grown varieties of tea.

What are your thoughts? Have you changed tea drinking habits based on bad publicity? Do you scrutinize other food? 

Other references:

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/green_room/2008/09/rusted_roots.html

https://nutritionfacts.org/video/lead-contamination-of-tea/

 

The post Heavy metals in tea? appeared first on T Ching.

Tropical Sunrise from A Quarter To Tea. . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 06/21/2017 - 11:00
Of course since it is summertime anything that sounds summery I am willing to try! Tropical Sunrise is about as summery as it gets. It’s a green tea with goji berries, coconut, and mango! The dry leaf smells very citrusy and I think this would taste best iced, but instead of truly icing it I just let it cool at room temperature for a little while. Once it cooled I gave it a try and it is very refreshing! Whenever I see mango or goji berries or citrus in a tea’s description I wonder if it is going to be Read More

One hundred things (and a few more) to do in the Upper Peninsula with Kath Usitalo

Barb's Tea Shop - Wed, 06/21/2017 - 01:16
Meeting author, Kath Usitalo at Saturn Booksellers in Gaylord
One hundred things to do in the Upper Peninsula? Ya, you bet!

As a daughter of a Yooper, and one who made annual treks over the bridge for over 50 years, I can tell you "100" doesn't cover all the great adventures in the UP. That's why I think Kath Usitalo may already need a sequel to her recently published book, "100 Things to Do in the Upper Peninsula Before You Die".

Lots to do on the other side of  Mackinac Bridge (62) - at least 100!
We met author Kath Usitalo last weekend at Saturn Booksellers in Gaylord, Michigan. (This book store is a real gem - bright, cozy and filled to the brim with great reads.).

Kath Usitalo knows the northern Michigan territory well. Although she grew up in a suburb of Detroit, her parents were from the Keweena area in the UP where she visited frequently. Now, she lives in the Upper Peninsula year round where she writes her blog, GreatLakesGazette.com.


Just breathe (#41) "scenic beauty & clean air" ( looks like Finland)
Many of the residents of the UP have family ties to the Nordic countries. Usitalo is Finnish and, similar in roots, my Dad's parents immigrated from a Swedish settlement in Finland back in the early 1900's. (We visited Helsinki and Vaasa in 2001 and, aside from the pleasure of meeting many other "Engmans", we could not get over how much the terrain, with it's plentiful pines and pristine natural lakes, resembled northern Michigan).


We even have our own UP body of water, Engman LakeEngmans in Finland and UP


















Of the one hundred things to do in Kath's book, I've personally done 34. My Dad being from Baraga, it's no surprise that I've been to the Shrine of the Snowshoe Priest - aka Bishop Baraga -  (#52), a number of times. It's the towering bronze statue that overlooks the bay between L'Anse and Baraga.


Visiting some of the UP's best kept secrets -  beautiful waterfalls (#23)
However, we didn't limit ourselves to just my Dad's hometown to experience other "things" to do in the UP.  We've watched freighters carried through the Soo Locks (#72) via the marvels of modern engineering, toured the spectacular Pictured Rocks by boat (#45) and, as recently as last fall, experienced for the first time the amazing beauty of the Upper Peninsula's waterfalls (#23). On the way home from that last trip, we also stopped at Java Joe's (#2) in St. Ignace.


Java Joe's (#2) in St. Ignace

In addition, we've been to Mackinac Island for bike rides (#63), fudge (#4) and afternoon tea at the Grand Hotel (#64).


The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island (#64)


Fancy tea with  family at the Grand HotelTea with hotel historian, Bob Tagatz

Speaking of tea, one more thing to do in the Upper Peninsula that's not in the book is afternoon tea at Four Seasons in Houghton - perhaps for the sequel?  (It is, however, in my book, Michigan Tea Rooms).



Michigan Tea Rooms sold at Four Season's Gift ShopeWith tea room owner, Adrea Schuldt


One UP thing we've tried since last weekend, courtesy of Kath and her book, is Trenary Toast (#5). Kath had samples of this Upper Peninsula taste treat for those in attendance of the book signing event. This toast is twice baked and coated with sugar and cinnamon. It is dunked in coffee or milk and, once softened, adds a sweet and satisfying taste to the liquid it's immersed in. We tried it in coffee and loved it.  Next, you just know we'll experiment with tea!

Trenary Toast (#5) is a tasty treat with coffee
At Barb's Tea Service, we're going to try Trenary Toast with tea!

"100 Things to Do in the Upper Peninsula Before You Die" is now available at Saturn Booksellers and other retail outlets. For more information, visit GreatLakesGazette.com.


Tropical Nut Paradise from Teavana. . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 06/20/2017 - 23:00
Why is it that I always try a tea, end up loving it, and then it’s nowhere to be found? Always discontinued. That is the worst thing ever. It makes me so sad. However, maybe this Tropical Nut Paradise rooibos blend by Teavana will make an appearance at some point in the future so that all you readers out there can try it. And I do suggest you try it…because it is dang good! I always like a tea that involves nuts- whether coconut or almond or pistachio nut, i’m down for it. This one happens to involve coconut and Read More

Blackberry Maple Waffle from The NecessiTeas. . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 06/20/2017 - 17:00
About ten years ago, I bought a package of loose-leaf black maple tea from a lovely tea house in California. The first time I tried it, with the usual milk and sugar, I had it with French Toast for breakfast. I felt like I was drinking a cup of maple syrup. Yikes! This may have caused me to shy away from maple flavored tea for a time – or at least to consider serving it with something more savory. Flash forward to May 2017 when I received my first order from The NecessiTEAS. I ordered a variety of their creative Read More

Refreshing Hibiscus Tea

T Ching - Tue, 06/20/2017 - 12:42

The flowers and leaves of the hibiscus plant are widely known to have an abundance of benefits for the skin and hair. In fact, at home in India, we often make a concoction of coconut oil simmered with hibiscus flowers and curry leaves to apply on the hair.

Having been in the UAE for more than a decade now, I have always seen dried hibiscus flower petals in the supermarkets and the spice markets which have bags full of dried fruits, flowers and spices on sale. The shop sellers informed me that the hibiscus flowers help lower blood pressure. A little research on the internet revealed I had stumbled upon hibiscus tea and it seems to be a popular drink in several parts of the world, hot or cold. Especially in the scorching heat these days I enjoy sweet hibiscus tea as a refreshing drink served over plenty of ice. The color of the drink is particularly inviting and it has a deliciously crisp, tangy, and tart taste.

Hibiscus tea may be prepared by adding dried or fresh hibiscus flowers to boiling water until they release their colorful and flavorful essence. I like to add a small cinnamon stick while brewing the tea and sometimes a dash of lime before serving. The rosy red colour of hibiscus is in itself stunning. The tea could be made more inviting by using dried rose petals for decoration. One may garnish with any other ingredient such as mint.

It is known to have an abundance of health benefits including the management of cholesterol levels and is also rich in several vitamins and minerals.

Now, sipping on a glass of chilled hibiscus tea and settling down with a nice book is one of my favorite things to do during the long summer days.

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The post Refreshing Hibiscus Tea appeared first on T Ching.

Ripe Puerh from Teaspec. . . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 06/20/2017 - 11:00
Puerh is one of those varieties of tea that intimidates me.  In the past, I’ve had these teas go horribly wrong me and those situation just stick in my head when I go to think abut trying to drink puerh again.  I will admit it.  I recently purchased a good variety of puerh from a well renowned and adored company yet a good chunk of that order is still untouched.  I just find myself grabbing my beloved green or white teas. Well today I broke out of my tea safety zone and tried a ripe puerh from Teaspec.  I also Read More

Even More Awesome Tea Creators of YouTube

Tea For Me Please - Mon, 06/19/2017 - 23:17
Almost three years ago I wrote a blog post called Awesome Tea Creators of YouTube. Things have changed a bit since then. Some of the channels on the original list aren't active anymore and several new channels have come onto the scene as well. It was high time that I put together another list.


Teacups and Blossoms

Rebekah has so much energy and passion for tea that is positively infectious. We had the pleasure of meeting in NYC last year and she's exactly the same in person. It's her mission to make tea fun and approachable for everyone.



Tea End Blog

Gabby at Tea End Blog has a great channel that is an extension of her tea blog. In addition to tea and book reviews, she does a ton of contests and giveaways.



Gaiwans on Fleek

How did I not think of this awesome channel name? Gaiwans on Fleek features light-hearted but informative videos from hosts Jason and Erin. They both own tea companies and really know their stuff.



Life's a cup of tea

Stephanie's blog has been featured on my Friday roundup several times but did you know that she has a YouTube channel too? Look for unboxings, hauls, tea reviews and more.



Jenni King

Jenni is a YouTuber who combines two of my favorite things, tea, and reading books. Each season she reports her tea empties, letting us know what she enjoyed and what she didn't.



Hannah Ruth Tea

Hannah is another fellow blogger who makes some really great tea content. She does lots of tastings as well as unboxings, tea-infused cocktails, and informational videos.



Tea Leaf Project

Stephanie is easily one of the most active tea YouTubers. There are lots of tea reviews and unboxings. She also collects a ton of teaware, especially from David's Tea.



Miss Mary Lu

If you love tea, board games, and other geeky things you'll really enjoy the videos Mary puts out twice a week. Tea quite literally transforms her in every video!



While you're headed to YouTube, make sure that you subscribe to my channel too! Do you know of any fantastic tea-focused YouTube channels that I missed? I'll be doing another installment in the future that focuses on tea companies who are making great videos.

Peach Crostata Yunnan Tea from A Quarter to Tea. . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 06/19/2017 - 23:00
I have never had a peach crostata. After having this tea, I sure would like to have some. I have never had a peach crostata. After having this tea, I sure would like to have some. I have had several peach teas and some are candy-like and some have a high, thin alcohol note from peach flavoring as it tries to mimic fresh peaches. This tea was all baked peaches and warmth, oven roasted deliciousness and heavenly scents. The tea had really nice body to go with the baked vibe, so you really know you are drinking TEA and good Read More

Lola from Sicilian Tea Company. . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 06/19/2017 - 17:00
This blend will makes you feel like singing, or humming along to your favorite pop song, comforting, pleasing, and drinkable. It’s a rooibos blend, so it’s decaf and full of feel-good antioxidants. There also warming cinnamon and a hint of relaxing lavender. Licorice root brings smooth, natural sweetness, almost fruity, like apples, which compliments the caramel tones of the red rooibos. The rooibos is the dominant flavor, and if brewed strong, it will overwhelm the other flavors with the almost-medicine floral taste. This blend strong enough that it’s best brewed twice, for two full cups of flavor. This is a Read More
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