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Tea and Travel: Finding Comfort in Tea While Abroad

T Ching - Thu, 12/01/2016 - 09:00

If you were given the chance to live abroad for a year, would you take it? My response was an absolute yes. It was a no-brainer decision when my husband was offered the chance to move to Dublin, Ireland for work.

As avid travelers, we looked at this move as a chance to explore new places and cultures. There’s always something different to see, smell, hear, or taste. We would have Europe at our fingertips with the convenience of budget airline Ryanair based out of our home airport. 

Little did we know how many places we’d explore. We are based in Dublin during the week, but travel as much as possible on the weekends. I went from a “9 to 5” to spending my days creating unforgettable itineraries, finding the best places to stay for our money, and searching for flight deals.

I started a travel blog, Two Blue Passports, with a girlfriend as a means to share these adventures. We’ve found through our years of planning trips that tips from friends always turn out to be the best travel advice. We share our practical tips and creative itineraries for seasoned as well as first time travelers to ease the planning process and encourage others to get out and explore the world.

Along with the highlights and adventure, travel also brings uncertainty. During our second weekend in Ireland for instance, we rented a car and drove to the west coast of the island. We found the cutest Airbnb, a newly renovated-barn-turned-guest-cottage that boasted freshly lain eggs and homemade soda bread about 30 minutes outside Galway. We arrived at the house shaken and frustrated after getting lost for hours in the darkness without internet.

The next morning, we headed into town in search of breakfast and a place to warm our spirits. We found Cupan Tae, a traditional Irish Tea Shop, and knew we had to go in. The small shop was filled with the scent of freshly baked scones, white doily tablecloths, and colorful china. We ordered the full Before-noon Tea with their house favorite Dreamy Creamy Galway Tea. Talk about a special tea – it will turn any coffee lover into a tea convert, just ask my husband. It’s a flavored black tea with a hint of roasted coffee beans and jasmine flowers.

I walked in with a feeling of doubt that perhaps we had made the wrong decision to move abroad. Even though we were living in an English speaking country, there were new customs and everything was more of a challenge. Looking back, I was a bit melodramatic, but in the moment it really hit me that we truly were foreigners.

I walked out with a smile and renewed sense of adventure. Wasn’t that why we moved in the first place? It’s amazing what a hot pot of tea and the warm Irish hospitality can do for one’s attitude. I make it a point to pop in when we’re in Galway and recommend Cupan Tae to visitors. Now, we look back on that weekend and chuckle and are reminded of the comfort of that Dreamy Creamy tea every time we brew it at home.

Do you have a favorite comforting tea? Perhaps a similar tea experience? Share with us below!

The post Tea and Travel: Finding Comfort in Tea While Abroad appeared first on T Ching.

Giddapahar SFTGFOP 1 CH Muscatel 2nd Flush 2016 Darjeeling Exclusive from Lochan Tea Limited

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 12/01/2016 - 00:00
I love it when a tea ‘takes me to another place’ and Giddapahar SFTGFOP 1 CH Muscatel 2nd Flush 2016 Darjeeling Exclusive from Lochan Tea Limited did just that. Giddapahar Estate – is a small family owned Darjeeling Tea Estate and is located on a mountain – also known as “Eagles Cliff” – just a short drive from Kurseong – the garden is situated at 4864 feet above sea level. It’s said that from the Read More

A Tea Drinker’s Letter to Santa!

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 11/30/2016 - 20:00
Oh, hey, Santa! It’s Mary! It’s been a while, I get it. If it helps, let me jog your memory: big curly hair, nerdy glasses, asked for a pet hamster every single Christmas from ages 4-7? Yup. I’m back! This year, though, there aren’t any furry creatures on my wish list. (Okay, maybe a puppy. Always a puppy.) I’ve got a big ole’ tea cabinet full of goodies, Santa, and I need some things to Read More

London Fog from Harlow Tea Co

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 11/30/2016 - 18:00
I’ve been on a big afternoon tea kick lately. (Not like I’m not always on an “every time, every place” tea kick, but still.) My rules for a great afternoon tea? Refreshing, comforting, caffeinated but not buzzy, something that wakes me up as much as it helps me find peace and relaxation during the craziness of the day. Harlow’s London Fog seemed to fit the bill of just what I was looking for, with lavender Read More

Denong Tea 2015 Early Spring Harvest Enchanting Beauty Raw Pu-erh

Tea For Me Please - Wed, 11/30/2016 - 17:00
Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: varied greens and browns
Ingredients: puerh tea
Steep time: 10 seconds
Water Temperature: 185 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: deep gold

I first discovered Denong Tea at their World Tea Expo booth earlier this year. It had been quite a stressful day with surprisingly little tea consumed. I was instantly revived as soon as I took a sip of their Enchanting Beauty. It was love at first taste. I loved it so much that I told everyone all about it...and they wound up selling out before I could grab a cake for myself. Thankfully they contacted me soon afterward about sending samples for review, including this gem.

When it comes to reviews I always try to use the vendor's recommendations before playing around with my own preferred methods. I was glad I did that with this tea because although Denong's brewing directions take a lighter approach, I actually enjoyed the tea more that way. The taste was sweet and smooth with a wonderfully soft floral quality. Fruity notes of apricot danced around crisp baby spinach.

People often talk about the way that puerh effects us physically. I rarely experience that but this tea produced a very noticeable warming sensation at the center of my chest. Later brews grew progressively more intense. While there was some astringency it never bordered on unpleasant. Enchanting Beauty really did live up to her name. This is a tea I'll be remembering for some time to come.

I do wish there was a bit more information about where the tea was sourced from but that isn't a deal breaker. At $30 for a 100g cake, this tea runs along the same price range as my usual sheng fare. I would definitely say that it is worth it given the quality, especially since you don't have to commit to a large and expensive cake. There are several other teas from this company waiting in my to-do pile and I'm looking forward to sharing them with you all.

2015 Early Spring Harvest Enchanting Beauty Raw Pu-erh sample provided for review by Denong Tea.

Let’s Chat About Blackberry Cold Brew from Oliver Pluff & Co

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 11/30/2016 - 16:00
Blackberry Cold Brew from Oliver Pluff & Co consists of Orange Pekoe Black Tea Leaves, Blackberry Leaves, and Blackberry Flavoring and was created for cold brew. What’s really neat is if you purchase the 3oz (85g) it not only brews 3 gallons worth – it comes with an extra large wire mesh filter ball! The instructions for cold brewing in half gallons are clearly stated on the label/tin and on the website which are both Read More

Glass Tea Holder & Crystal Glass AKA Podstakannik #VeganMoFo2016

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 11/30/2016 - 12:00
  Today I have a VERY SPECIAL Product Review for you that is LONG OVER DUE! It’s this beautiful Glass Tea Holder & Crystal Glass – also known as – Podstakannik and it is from Russian Tea Time. For the Vegan MoFo prompt, today is all about Food Gifts. But since we are doing all of our Vegan MoFo posts with a twist we figured we will do a Tea Gift version! I can’t say Read More

Tea Basics: Why You Should Drink Loose Leaf Tea

T Ching - Wed, 11/30/2016 - 09:00

If you’re someone who drinks tea for its health benefits and/or aroma and flavor, you might want to think twice the next time you go to grab those convenient tea bags you purchased because they were the cheapest and most convenient option. Tea leaves need space to steep to their fullest potential. Being wrapped up in a small bag keeps them from delivering the best flavor and quality that tea has to offer.

Loose leaf teas are often folded, rolled, or dried in more condensed forms during processing to ensure that the antioxidants are released when steeped. This condensed state also dictates how the teas will taste after steeping. The rolling of leaves helps to preserve essential oils, adding to the aroma of the tea. Therefore the leaves will need space to unravel when they are steeped to reach their true aromatic and flavor potential.

Tea bags often contain over processed tea leaves including tea dust derived from the processing of the tea leaves. Most of the teas in tea bags go through a process called CTC or “Crush-Tear-Curl.” CTC processing was specifically invented for black tea to save time and money.

This isn’t inherently bad (many CTC-prepared loose teas can be quite good), but the problem is that most grocery store tea bags don’t have the tea produced by CTC or other methods, but instead have the tea “dust” that these processes create as a byproduct. The material, shape, and size of the bag itself will also affect the taste, aroma, and quality of the tea you are steeping. This over-processed tea will yield a more bitter and astringent taste.

Steeping loose leaves freely in water will yield more health benefits, better aroma and flavor, and will give you more options with the wide range of tea types from long needles to rolled balls. There are so many different types of teas that are not available in the on-the-go tea bags. One reason is that packaging the teas in the bags will undoubtedly compromise their quality and flavor. To get the most full-bodied flavor, aroma, and health benefits, brew your teas with loose leaves and let them steep freely in water.


The post Tea Basics: Why You Should Drink Loose Leaf Tea appeared first on T Ching.

Is Dayi or Xiaguan worth it?

A Tea Addict's Journal - Wed, 11/30/2016 - 08:06

So reader Serg asked in my fake Dayi post if it’s worth it to navigate through the sea of offerings on something like Taobao looking for real Dayi or Xiaguan teas. There are actually two parts to this question – the first is if it’s worth it to navigate it through the sea of fakes, and the second is if something like Dayi or Xiaguan is inherently worth it.

First of all, buying teas off Taobao, especially if you have to go through an agent who then re-ships it to you, carries an inherent risk. What is sold is not necessarily what you see on the page, and if you go through an agent there’s no real recourse. I can at least talk to the sellers myself and get refunds, maybe (usually not) but with an agent it’s definitely impossible. Basically, if a tea normally sells for 1000, and you find it for 900, you really have no way to tell if the tea is being sold a little lower because the seller wants to get rid of it, or if it’s a fake that wants your attention. As I mentioned in my fake Dayi post, on the product page you have no real way of telling if the cake is real or not. I knew it’s fake because the price was obviously too low to be true, but it’s not going to be obvious if the price is about right.

The only way around it is this: buy from the official stores. For Dayi, you can visit the Dayi tmall store (tmall is the more respective division of Taobao). For Xiaguan I believe it’s here. They’re not going to be a deal, or have older teas, but at least you’ll know you’re not getting fakes. In short, no, don’t bother buying from random sellers on Taobao unless you’ve gambled and bought stuff from them that’s real (assuming you have a decent idea what real tastes like) and you are willing to spend that money that may end up with fakes.

The more important question is: are these teas worth it in general?

Well, I think this question is harder to answer. I generally think less of Xiaguan teas, so let’s focus on Dayi. The thing with Dayi is there are different kinds of Dayi products. There are the cooked puerh – which I will absolutely endorse so long as they’re not the special, limited production stuff that cost an arm and a leg. The regular stuff that they put out, like 7452, are quite decent and taste better than most cooked puerh out there. If you are into that sort of thing, buy them.

Now, for raw puerh, there are also the regular productions and the special ones. The ones that generate buzz these days are the special productions. Usually they give a reason to come out with them – a special event, an anniversary, or whatever. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that they are producing teas that are usually one-off, and are usually limited in quantity. This has a few effects. People who buy up a lot of these early on can quite easily scoop up enough and control some portion of the market. They are easily identifiable, and so easy for consumers to notice. I think much of the reason for pumping out these special editions is to drive up market demand. If it’s just the same 7542 every year, there’s no reason for people to plump down money to buy them. Getting out these special blends that are a bit different every year will ensure that people who already have too much tea are going to keep buying – many are just stamp collectors who buy because they want some of everything, not necessarily because they want to drink them.

In the aged market, things are a bit trickier. Before about year 2000 things were simpler, there weren’t as many special pressings and what not, and teas are generally identifiable by recipe number and maybe a vague year range. That market is probably not what Serg was asking about, because the prices for those cakes are high. For the later stuff, starting especially around 2002 or 2003, you see a lot of these newer pressings that are one off. There are the hyped up stuff – Green Big Tree, Gold and Silver Dayi from 2003, etc, that are quite expensive now. There are also the less celebrated ones – teas that nobody bothered to hype. Those can still be pretty reasonable.

Why do people buy Dayi though? Well, I think there are a few reasons. First of all – if you buy something that you’d like to, maybe, resell one day, Dayi is probably better than anyone else, because there’s always a secondary market for it. A lot of people buy a lot of tea that they will never finish drinking. If you buy a private label whatever, chances are you can’t sell it off at a price that means much of an appreciation, if at all. On the other hand, if you have a whole jian of some Dayi tea from 2009, chances are you are sitting on some paper profits there. It’s just a matter of market forces.

The other thing is among all the brands, Dayi has one of the longest track records for producing tea. This is of course mostly due to history – there were only three factories making puerh back in the day, and Dayi is the one that has made the most out of it, with Kunming having died and Xiaguan generally producing teas that don’t age as well. So, in that sense, buying Dayi is the safe choice – it will age fine, into whatever Dayis tend to age into. You will probably be sitting on tea that will be decent in ten, fifteen, twenty years. It’s not going to be that ancient tree, single mountain stuff that commands top dollar these days, but that’s not why you buy Dayi. Also, there’s definitely something to be said about blends – they are more interesting and more complex. I have had many aged (now ten years or more) single estate teas that can be pretty boring and flat because it’s so one-note. Dayi will help you avoid that problem.

Ultimately, the question of whether something is worth it or not is really quite subjective – some people think it’s totally worth it to shell out thousands of dollars on a bottle of wine. Others will cringe at the idea of spending more than $20 on a bottle. It’s the same with tea. Without knowing how much money is worth it to you, and how much you value certain attributes for a tea, it’s impossible to say if something is worth it. With Dayi, you pay for a brand premium (which, of course, translates into that reselling premium). You pay for some certainty with aging characteristics. You pay for some certainty in reliability. Whether any of those are worth it… is really up to you.

Wild Jujube from Teasenz

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 11/30/2016 - 00:00
I have a special treat for you today – well I think it’s a special treat, anyways – it’s Wild Jujube from Teasenz! Wild Jujube from Teasenz is a fruit tea – an herbal fruit tisane – if you will. China’s most popular herbal tea is made from wild Jujube. Jujubes are sometimes referred to as Chinese Dates and are small, reddish-brown fruits that has the appearance of berries. My first encounter with dried Jujube’s Read More

Rani Collection Organic Earl Grey from Hope and Glory

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 11/29/2016 - 20:00

The more tea friends I meet online the more I realize that Earl Grey is hit and miss for some people. Lucky for me – I’m generally a fan of Earl Grey – so today I would like to share with you Rani Collection Organic Earl Grey from Hope & Glory! The dry leaf aroma is stereo-typically Earl Grey potent but once the hot water is added and the loose leaf infused it tones down Read More

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Apple Cinnamon French Toast from Simpson & Vail

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 11/29/2016 - 16:00

I respect you guys, so I’m not going to beat around the bush. This tea is a solid two thumbs up. Respectful thumbs, angled straight up at the sky. (Which, today, is actually very sunny and pleasant. Wishing you the same.) You get apple. You get cinnamon. You get maple. You get a little bit of a malt note that I might be imagining. But I’ve now put the idea of malt in your head. Read More

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The Benefits of Holy Basil

T Ching - Tue, 11/29/2016 - 09:00

Ginger spiked tea with a few leaves of Holy Basil added to it is something I distinctly remember as a part of those days during my growing-up years when I could sense the beginning of an irritating cough or needed an urgent relief to the blocked nasal passage.

In fact, the “Queen of Herbs” also known as Holy Basil or Tulsi is an integral part of the average Indian household and grown in earthen pots in the garden or the backyard. We usually add freshly plucked Tulsi leaves to masala chai however it tastes equally wonderful when tea is prepared with the tea leaves, milk, sugar and the dried tulsi leaves steeped in it. I have also tried the Tulsi Green Tea of Organic India (which is known as a provider of genuine products for overall well being) and found it really soothing. It may be enjoyed as iced tea too.

There are known to be extraordinary health benefits associated with the Tulsi herb for thousands of years. It is known to support your system against stress by helping to relax, is rich in antioxidants, helps support your immune system, and so on……

Tulsi tea is a simple drink to make and is described as the Elixir of Life. Try it!


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Pekoe Breakfast Black Tea from Pekoe Sip House

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 11/29/2016 - 00:00

Are you looking for that next good cup of breakfast tea to sip on?  Perhaps Pekoe Breakfast Black Tea from Pekoe Sip House is that cuppa!  It’s fairly bold, uplifting, energizing, and rich in both flavor and character. Pekoe Breakfast Black Tea from Pekoe Sip House infuses to a marvelous shade of medium-dark brown with deep red-orange hue.  It smells like a breakfast tea would.  The flavor is bold, astringent-in-a-good-way, malty, woodsy all at the Read More

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Lemon Myrtle from The Tea Can Company

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 11/28/2016 - 20:00

Lemon Myrtle from The Tea Can Company is absolutely TEA…riffic! It contains high elevation Ceylon Black Tea, Lemon Peel, and Australian Lemon Myrtle. Just 3 ingredients give off an incredible flavor! The first infusion had a hearty black tea base with sweet and slightly bitter lemon peel – as well as – juicy yet candied-sweet lemon flavors throughout the sip The 2nd infusion still had a nice but more muted black tea base. The lemon Read More

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Chocolate Marshmallow Spicier Chai from 52Teas #VeganMoFo2016

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 11/28/2016 - 12:00

Chocolate Marshmallow Spicier Chai from 52 Teas is my tea choice of the day and also my choice for today’s Vegan MoFo! Today is Holiday Bake Day! What are you planning on baking over the winter holidays? Do you make cake or cookies? Something Savory? Well, I have a confession to make…I don’t bake! I’ve tried but I always fail! But when I first tasted Chocolate Marshmallow Spicier Chai from 52 Teas I knew I Read More

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Going Green for Beauty

T Ching - Mon, 11/28/2016 - 09:00

Green tea is probably the healthiest thing you can drink: it supports the process of weight loss with its fat burning properties, it is filled with antioxidants, it improves blood flow and lowers cholesterol levels, while its L-theanine has a calming effect. Obviously, there are numerous health benefits to consuming green tea, but what about using it as a natural remedy in your beauty routine?  No doubt at all: green tea combined with other ingredients straight from your kitchen cupboard can help you achieve beautiful and radiant skin. Mix up different formulas and make your own DIY face masks to address your skin’s needs.

A relief for sensitive skin: green tea + honey + lemon juice

This power combo is perfect for sensitive skin as it has calming effects. Green tea is extremely nourishing: packed with antioxidants, it enables your skin to breathe freely. Honey functions as a natural antibacterial: it helps with blemishes and skin conditions such as acne while preventing new breakouts. Lemon juice also has antibacterial properties and is well known as the best natural ingredient used for lightening skin. It functions as a natural chemical peel: the citric acid will gently remove the top layer of dead skin cells, ensuring a lovely glow. Use only one tsp of lemon juice and keep 1:1 ratio for other ingredients. Apply the mixed ingredients evenly to your face and hold for 15-20 minutes.

Getting rid of the excessive shine: green tea + lemon juice + rice flour

In addition to the mentioned benefits of green tea and lemon juice, rice flour helps with handling a specific skin problem. If you’ve been struggling with oily skin, you can try this natural green tea face mask enriched with rice flour that works as a natural exfoliant. The flour absorbs all the excessive sebum from your face and restores the optimal balance of skin’s natural oils. Make sure to thoroughly cleanse your face before applying the pack. Leave the mask on for about 20 min. Wash your face with cold water and gently rub it off so to exfoliate your skin. Apply your usual moisturizer: make sure it’s not an emollient one since your skin is naturally oily. Commit to a routine where you’ll put this mask at least once per week.

Say goodbye to dry and flaky skin: green tea + banana + yogurt

Don’t you just hate the tightening feeling on the skin? Dry skin can be a lot to handle, but this green tea mask empowered with yogurt and banana is a true savior. Bananas are rich in the potassium that deeply hydrates the skin, as well as the healing vitamin A and amino acids that help skin maintain its elasticity. It’s also rich in antioxidants: when combined with green tea’s antioxidant properties – rest assured, free radicals won’t stand a chance! Yogurt is full of vitamin D and calcium and it’s a great moisturizer your skin will love. Pamper yourself: the beauty of this mask lies in the fact it’s deeply hydrating, mild, and easy to make.

Miraculous anti-age mask: green tea + red wine + honey + egg white

Green tea is your ally in deferring the aging process. Mix it up with red wine, honey, and egg white – and you’ll end up with youthful-looking, dewy skin. Red wine contains resveratrol and polyphenols that help tighten the skin and combined with egg white – it will better your skin’s tonus. This heavenly drink is considered to be very healthy and is anti-inflammatory. No wonder French women choose to drink it every day as part of their beauty routine. After leaving this mask on for about 15 min, wash it with lukewarm water. You can even apply a homemade green tea toner afterward: your skin will repay you with a beautiful look.

Use all of nature’s goodies and mix them with green tea. Go green for beauty and be creative: come up with your own masks – it’s inexpensive, simple, and incredibly effective!

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Google Is a Lazy Co-Author

The Devotea - Mon, 11/28/2016 - 02:35

I read a lot. I read surprising few books on tea. Of course, I’ve read my own a few times, and in the case of The Infusiast, should have read it a few more times before I okayed the print run with “1939” occurring twice where it should have been ‘1839’. I love novels that […]

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Reiki from Tea Shirt- A Review You Have to Read!

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 11/28/2016 - 00:00

“Tea Shirt- tailored refreshments”. It will be a dark day when we finally run out of tea puns. Thankfully, I think we are a long, long way from the teapocalypse. …what? …no…? Okay, admittedly some have much more of a gift in the pun tea-partment than I do …NO?! FINE I’m done!! When I saw the ingredients for Tea Shirt’s Reiki blend, I got super dooper scooper excited. An invigorating, fruity tisane WITHOUT peppermint! The Read More

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Vintage Hand Stamped Silver plate Spoon- BEST TEA-Spoon- Gift Idea for Any Tea Enthusiast!

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 11/28/2016 - 00:00

If you are looking for a wonderful unique gift for any tea enthusiast, check this review out! I have one and use it each and every day.  I am in love with these wonderful spoons and have to say they make me smile each and every day! ~CuppaGeek Not too long ago I received a lovely spoon from Blue Crabb. A Vintage Hand Stamped Silverplate Spoon – BEST TEA – Spoon from Blue Crabb’s Etsy Read More

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