Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Training Update

Lest this blog get too girly with all of the tea talk, I thought I'd throw in a quick workout update.  I met with my personal trainer yesterday for our weekly training session and OMG he worked me hard!  Cardio, cardio, lots and lots of cardio.  Whew!!!  Looking forward to some strength training on TRX later this week if I'm recovered by then.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Harney and Sons Tea

I recently placed my first tea order with Harney and Sons.  They are a New York based family owned company that have gotten rave reviews throughout the tea community, to the point that they were even commissioned to create teas for the British Historic Royal Palaces organization.  Wow, an American company being commissioned by the Brits?  I figured with that kind of "tea cred" they were definitely worth a shot. 

They were extremely quick and efficient when it came to order confirmation, shipping and delivery.  A big plus!  I ordered three different tins, although they also offer an option for ordering samples.  I took the risk, as I was pretty sure I would like what I had chosen.  They were all white teas:  White Christmas, Winter White Earl Grey and Royal Wedding Tea, an Historic Royal Palaces blend created in honor of William and Kate's royal wedding in 2011.  With that kind of background, I figure it's gotta be good, right?!  (Honestly, I feel quite crass speaking that way about this tea lol.  It just sounds wrong.  Drinking tea like this calls for using words like "uppity" and "preposterous" and wearing a hat and gloves.)

Anyway, what I'm learning about white teas is that they need to steep a lot longer than is recommended to really get the full flavor.  If I stick to 1-2 minutes, it just tastes like hot water- bleh.  4-5 minutes adds light flavor, but still primarily hot water overall.  I did roughly 8-10 minutes today and it was perfect!  The trick is to never use boiling water.  That will cause bitterness, and not much tastes worse in the tea world than bitter flavored hot water. 

So far, White Christmas and Winter White Earl Grey are pluses in my book, and I will probably eventually reorder.  Royal Wedding is good, but it doesn't impress me as an anything out of the ordinary sort of thing.  It's soft and smooth and fairly delicate.  Think buttercream coconut wedding cake.  It would be a good light dessert tea.  Unfortunately Harney doesn't offer sample sizes of this tea.   The smallest size I could find was a 30 sachet tin, which is what I purchased.  I ended up bringing it to work to brew up in the morning.  I keep an ongoing tea stash there, while saving my more preferred teas for enjoying at home.  

All in all, I definitely recommend Harney and Sons tea so far.  Their tins are gorgeous, the teas are tasty, and they offer a high quality selection at a very reasonable price.  Order yourself a few (or more!) samples, take a risk on a tin or two, and embrace the luxury of tea!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Today I tried a new tea from Mariage Frères.  It is called Iskandar, which is supposedly the Persian name for Alexander the Great.  An odd pairing I thought, as this tea seems very feminine to me.  It tastes and smells exactly like Flavigny Violet Pastilles.  I used to love eating these, but they are a bit perfumy if you're not used to that sort of thing.  And I'm not loving the tea so much.  It's very well done, but violet perfume is not my first choice for tea flavor.  And with such a wide selection in the MF catalog, there are plenty of other blends that I prefer.  

If you are a fan of candied violets though, by all means try it.  This would be an excellent tea to pair with a rich dessert of some sort.  I tried it with chocolate and that seemed to help counterbalance the overwhelming taste of violet fragrance.  On its own this tea is somewhat cloying and very "in your face"- nothing subtle about it at all... violet, Violet, VIOLET!

(Edit to add:  It has now been two weeks since my initial review and I have to say that Iskandar has really grown on me.  Or perhaps my brewing technique is just improving haha.  Either way, I find myself craving this blend more and more over time.  I think I will have to buy a refill very soon.)

Monday, January 14, 2013

A Love of Tea

 As I mentioned in my last post, I have been trying to nurture myself as much as possible these days.  A big part of that has been re-embracing, among other things, my love of gourmet teas.  Yesterday I discovered a new local teahouse that carries some of my favorite teas by Mariage Frères, an amazing French tea company located in the Marais district of Paris.
I first discovered Mariage Frères several years ago and fell utterly in love with their Earl Grey French Blue, along with many of their fabulous other dark blends.  These days, sadly, my stomach no longer tolerates black tea, so I was forced to end my long term love affair with Earl Grey.  Fortunately their green teas are just as delicious as the black teas, and I quickly found several new standbys to fill my cupboard.

I never thought I liked green tea.  What I discovered is that I don't like BAD green tea.  And most bagged green tea found in the supermarket is pretty bad.  But opening a fresh tin of loose tea from Mariage Frères is a sensory experience not to be denied.  The long curled verdant green leaves, mixed with multicolored herbs and petals, are a lush visual feast.  The fruity bouquet of Marco Polo Vert takes one on an olfactory journey to lands far away across caravan roads.  The rose and lavender of Vert Provence is completely reminiscent of the real Provence.  Thè des Impressionnistes
may be my current favorite of all-  a soft floral blend swathed in a delicious subtle vanilla.  J'aime le thè!