Oolong Tea Video

Interesting video on brewing oolong tea. Certainly something that will come in handy while I explore more types!

Gorgeous Teapots Around the Web

If I’m going to buy a kettle, you can be sure that I’m on the look out for a teapot as well. Picking a teapot is even more difficult because they’re beautiful and I want to own every single one. Here are some of my favorites:

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Can I have them all, please?

A Real Kettle

As I go deeper and deeper into the tea world, I learn all kinds of new things. One of the things that I have known for some time, but have continued to ignore, is the importance of water temperature when brewing different types of tea. I know that different teas call for different temperatures and different steeping times, but I never really pay much mind to that, and I tend to make the tea to whatever my personal taste is.

While that is totally fine, it would be interesting to try out doing things the “right” way, so I am considering buying myself a proper kettle. All this time I have been warming up my water in whatever method is available to me. First it was just throwing a mug into the microwave, and then I moved on to a pretty cheap water boiler. Even this little change was a world of difference. Maybe I’m imagining things, but water boiled in the microwave has a really odd taste that seemed to have disappeared when I switched to the boiler. Interesting!

Now I want to take things even further and get a real electric kettle, complete with different temperature settings. If I make the decision to invest even further, I’m really interested in a tea maker. These are great because they do everything for you. They get the correct temperature, and brew the tea, and keep the tea warm. This would keep me stocked in tea all day long!

So far, I like the Breville Tea Maker the most, but wow, it’s really pricey! Some of the cool things it does is:

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  • lower the basket in and out of the boiling water
  • keeps the tea warm for 60 minutes
  • lots of temperature settings for different teas
  • an autostart feature so I can set it up and have my tea waiting for me in the morning, or whenever I want.
  • timers that let me know different things like when I brewed the tea.

Does all of this seem like a bit… much? That’s not even all of the features! I’m going to have to spend some time thinking about whether or not a purchase this big is really worth it, or if I should get something a little more simple. I do know I’ll get use out of it though. What can I say, I over-think when it comes to spending money!

I can’t help but be really intrigued by traditional tea kettles as well. Really, I’m just drawn to the beautiful design of them, so I’ll definitely go all out and stick to the fancier models. I did a bit of research on copper tea kettles as well, and I just love them. They’re gorgeous! Maybe one day I’ll start a massive kettle collection. Just another thing I need to make me weirder than I already am.

Milk Oolong Tea

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Surprise! I’m talking about oolong tea again! This time, milk oolong to be precise. I first had milk oolong tea when I was in the UK. I had this along with my very first scone. The entire experience was magical.

I haven’t had milk oolong since I’ve been back in the United States, and I thought it was time to remedy that, so I purchased a bag of loose leaf oolong from Davids Tea. Yes, that’s right, I bought something not in a bag. Lucky for me, I picked up a cheap tea infuser from Ikea on a whim, so I have a way to make it!

The tea I purchased is the quangzou milk oolong. I’m not entirely sure if this is different than other types of milk oolong, but it was the only one I could find on the website, so I went for it!

When I opened the bag the very first thing I was hit with was it’s SMELL. It smells amazing. The aroma is sort of sweet, and a little buttery too. I was tempted to scatter the stuff all over my floor and scent the house. But I resisted and brewed a cup like a regular human should.

Now I am not expert at describing the taste of teas, so forgive me if I’m technically inaccurate with the terminology. On my first sip, I was overcome with instant pleasure. This stuff is good. That buttery, creamy smell translates into taste as well. It’s pretty darn great, and I think I may be fully converted to loose leaf tea just from this blend alone. I’ve been on a search for the perfect oolong tea, and I have to say, this might be my favorite yet.

Reasons I replaced Coffee with Tea

I used to be a hard core coffee drinker. I still love it, but over the last couple of years I have chosen to replace my coffee addiction with a tea addiction. I still drink coffee occasionally, but not as frequently as I used to. Before tea, I would have the coffee maker on all day long and drink several cups. It got to the point where I didn’t feel right if I wasn’t having any coffee that day, and I knew that’s when I needed to take a step back from it. Here are some of the reasons why I replaced coffee with tea.

It’s healthier

Tea has so many health benefits, and I have not been able to find anything that coffee does that’s comparable. When I drink tons of tea through out the day, I know that I am getting tons of antioxidants, nutrients, and all other sorts of good things into my body. I didn’t feel that way with coffee. All I felt was guilt.

Less Caffeine

Lots of teas have caffeine in it, but it’s a smaller amount than the caffeine content of a cup of coffee. I knew I was becoming dependent on the caffeine that coffee gave me when I started getting headaches just because I hadn’t had a cup that day! That’s not a good thing, and that’s not a feeling I ever have when I go without tea.

Tea is versatile

I can drink tea in so many ways. With sugar, without sugar, with milk, without milk, with cream, with honey. All of it tastes delicious depending on the tea. I can’t do this with coffee. There is no way I’ll ever have a cup of black coffee, and I absolutely cannot drink it without any sugar. For me, coffee is the same all the time. Lots of cream and lots of sugar. With tea, there is so much more to explore.

I can drink it at night

I love having tea in bed at night as a time to relax and unwind from stress. There are lots of decaffeinated, delicious options to choose from. Coffee just doesn’t work at night for me. It’s not a taste I want to have, and I definitely don’t need that surge of energy right before bed.

The bottom line is, I love tea, and I love having a drink that I can indulge in through out the day guilt free. I still enjoy a single cup of coffee every morning, but other than that, it’s tea for me!

Bigelow Green Tea

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In an effort to stop drinking Twinings so called “fake” green tea, I bought a box of Bigelow green tea. Now, I’m confused about what green tea should really taste like. It’s really different than the Twinings blend!

I can’t say that I have a whole lot of experience with green tea. I can honestly say that I only started to drink it after becoming ill last year. That’s when I became a huge fan of the Twinings green tea. I really enjoyed how it tasted even when I didn’t add any sweetener, and that’s not a thing that ever happens!

It wasn’t until I came across some reviews online that I became aware that many tea drinkers don’t believe that it tastes anything like “real” green tea. As a newbie, I didn’t know any better. So I bought a box of Bigelow to begin comparing.

This tea DOES taste very different than the Twinings one and I can’t really tell if I like it or not. I think my hesitance to accept it has more to do with how used to the Twining’s variety I’ve become, rather than the Bigelow tasting bad at all.

For my first cup, I followed the instructions on the box and let the tea bag steep for 3 minutes. I added a bit of sugar. I was a little disappointed. The flavor was a bit too light for my liking, and I felt as though I was drinking a sweetened cup of water!

For my second cup, I decided to let it steep for longer, in hopes that more flavor would come out. It worked and I liked the tea a lot better that time around. I find that this is a good tea to drink with the tea bag sitting in the cup the entire time. I know a lot of tea enthusiasts don’t recommend oversteeping, but it turns out that I really do like my tea a little bitter. Maybe I’m strange!

Oloong Tea Tasting

I’ve already said many times that Oolong tea is my favorite kind of tea. This is a pretty huge declaration to make, considering I haven’t tried every tea in the entire universe. I just love it so much. My favorite tea comes from a Chinese restaurant in my neighborhood, and while I have tried many oolong brands, finding one that I love as much as the restaurant tea has been a bit more difficult than I expected.

Earlier this week, I bought 2 boxes of oolong tea, and I have tried both. The results have been varied. Let’s start with the worst

WORST: Twinings China Oolong Tea

oolongWhere do I even begin with this one? I was pretty optimistic about this particular oolong, mostly because I love so many other Twining’s tea. Let’s just say, this particular blend doesn’t taste anything like any oolong I have ever tried before. The most positive thing I can say on this one is that the packaging is very pretty, but that’s where the goodness ends.

I’m not even entirely sure how to describe the flavor of this tea. It really doesn’t taste anything like oolong. The taste is very bitter, and not at all pleasant. Not even my usual gazillion spoons of sugar could make it drinkable. I had several more cups, wondering if maybe I needed some time to adjust to the new taste, but nope, it’s just plain bad. Oddly enough, this tea is really quite light and still manages to taste incredibly strange. Yuck. It looks like I’m going to have to expand my journey a little farther than the local grocery stores. They simply don’t have a very wide selection of oolong teas.

BEST: Yamamotoyama Oolong Tea

oolong2This tea was still not my favorite, but after the fiasco that was the Twining’s China Oolong Tea, I can’t complain. I picked this brand from a Chinese grocery store. It doesn’t taste exactly like the one from the restaurant, but it’s the closest I’ve come so far.

The entire experience of drinking this tea was far better than the Twining’s variety. The color is a beautiful golden brown. When I was finished steeping, I looked at the bag and exclaimed, “pretty!” Then I took several photos with my phone. Anyway, the smell is great too. It has a bit of a roasted, nutty smell. It’s very good. After my first sip, I let out a sigh of relief because it didn’t taste anything like the Twining’s tea (I will never forgive you, twinings). Since my first cup, I’ve had a few more, trying out varying steeping times, and I’ve found that this one is really good even when oversteeping. If I can’t find anything better than this one, I think I may actually be satisfied with making it my go to oolong tea, but there were quite a few other available in the store that I’m excited to try out as well!

What I like to do when I drink tea

Tea is a complete experience for me. I love drinking it, and because it brings me so much joy, I always try to do things that I love while I drink it. I only want good things to be associated with my tea drinking, so you won’t find me sipping a cup while working or doing something stressful. These are just a few of the ways I like to spend my time with a cup of tea.

Reading

This is my favorite tea drinking activity. I always brew a cup of tea right before I open a book (or turn on the kindle). When I’m stressed out, the only thing that I need to do is get cozy with a book and some oolong (favorite brand still pending). The only problem I’ve run into with doing this is that if I read for several hours, I tend to want to make way too many cups of tea. At what point has one had too much tea? Is there a limit? These are my daily struggles as a lone tea drinker. A lot of your might say “drink as much as you like! Tea is healthy!” But when you add is much sugar as I do… that may not be the case.

Enjoying a favorite television show

If I am not in the mood for reading, this is my next favorite method of tea relaxation. I have tea while watching shows so often that I’ve been conditioned to crave it just by sitting down in front of the television. Oddly enough, I seem to want tea with cream in it when I watch television. Yes, I am completely aware that my cravings are unusual.

When it’s raining

If it begins to rain, I will immediately drop what I am doing and start making tea ASAP. I love sitting by the window while the rain comes down while drinking something delicious at the same time. It appears that I have the ability to romanticize even things as simple as the occurrence of weather.

While listening to music

I can’t think of a better way to zone out and unwind for 20 minutes than setting up a playlist of whatever music I’m in the mood for, drinking tea, and closing my eyes. This allows me to really take everything in. I allow myself to become fully immersed in the flavor of the tea I’m enjoying and the sounds of the music I’ve selected. Blocking the world out like this is so helpful on days when I feel very anxious and burnt out.

Tea in the UK

In my last post, I touched upon experiencing tea drinking in the UK. It’s an experience that I can’t seem to let go of, and I often find myself desperately wanting to immerse myself in that tea culture again.

When I planned my vacation, it wasn’t soley to explore tea. But I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t go with a list of different tea shops to try out. The greatest part of the trip was that there were different tea spots to try every where I turned. Even living in a large city in the US, I haven’t been able to find a place that quite matches having afternoon tea in a london cafe. The closest thing I’ve found is, this place, which is impossible to get into. It’s always packed!

To my surprise, the thing that I ended up smitten with wasn’t just the tea itself. It was the scones and clotted cream served with it. When I had my first real British scone, I realized that the things we call scones in the United States are a lie. Scones in the US are dry and cakey. I definitely wasn’t a fan any time I had one. I was surprised to see that a scone in London is more akin to what we in the US refer to as biscuits, except 100% more delicious and amazing.

My first bite of a scone was life changing. I thought to myself, “how will I ever go on with my life without these pastries in it?” Life has gone on, but I can’t push away the memory of the flakey goodness and cream. I did learn that not all scones are created equal, and had a few not so delicious ones while trying out different bakeries and tea shops. But the ones that were good were REALLY GOOD. The next time someone asks me what my favorite food is, I’m going to reply, “scones.”

I haven’t been able to find a cafe here where I can buy a real scone. So I settled on making my own. The ingredients should be simple to find, however, I haven’t been able to find clotted cream anywhere. I’m beginning to wonder if I can somehow have it shipped to me in dry ice! I’ve been able to find several recipes that show how to make it at home, but the process seems incredibly complicated, and let’s just say, I’m not exactly a master chef. If I do decide to go ahead and make it, I’ll be sure to report on the disaster. It will be funny for everyone except me.

My Favorite Teas

As my first post on this blog, it seemed only fitting to discuss some of my absolute favorite teas.

The firs thing that you should know about me is that I’m not a tea expert. I enjoy spending my time trying lots of different brands and blends, but I have the tendency to pick a favorite and then drink it ALL THE TIME. One of the reasons I started this blog is to break out of the box a bit and allow myself to explore more and try different things. But before I get into that phase of my tea life, here are the teas that I just can’t seem to quit!

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PG Tips
A cliche choice, I know, but I had never tried this brand before I went to England a few summers ago. Before my trip, I became really curious about drinking tea the “English way”. I had no idea where to start though. All I knew was that I needed black tea. So I headed over to the local grocery store and grabbed a box of Red Rose tea. When I got home, I immediately brewed myself a cup and added a splash of milk. I hated it and accepted the fact that I didn’t like tea with milk in it. Turns out, I just really don’t like the taste of Red Rose.

When I went to the UK, I knew I had to give it a try again. This time I was not disappointed. The apartment I rented had PG Tips in the kitchen. I made a cup and added in milk, fingers crossed that I would actually like it this time. And I did! It’s delicious. When I returned home, I went on Amazon.com to order more. I waited several weeks for my order to be delivered from London. Imagine my surprise when I went to the grocery store near my house and saw the tea shelf stocked with PG Tips. Oops.

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Twinings Green Tea
I’ve seen a lot of people complain that this is not true green tea. This may be true, but I just love it. It’s delicious, and it’s my go to tea for a quick fix between working all day. Green tea isn’t always my favorite (although I must confess, my knowledge of green tea is limited), so I find this one suits me just fine.

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Oolong Tea
I love oolong tea. It may be my favorite tea type. Unfortunately, I’ve yet to find a brand that quite captures the taste I’m after. My love for oolong comes from a little Chinese restaurant that I visit frequently. They serve the most delicious tea, free with meals. Sometimes they’ll even leave the entire pot on the table, and it’s the most AMAZING thing ever. To be honest, I often go to this restaurant for dinner just because I really want the tea.

I’ve been on a journey, sampling many different oolong blends and brands trying to find one that lives up to the one served at this restaurant. I haven’t found it yet. Don’t get me wrong, there are tons that taste AMAZING, but I’m looking for one that most closely resembles the one served at the restaurant. One day you will be mine, restaurant oolong!