Hello all! Today’s guest on What’s in My Cup is my beloved Eldest Son!
The strength of a family, like the strength of an army, lies in its loyalty to each other.
He’s my red-headed, hairy lumberjack, and often my partner in adventure. We’ve battled to save the world together and geek out as much as possible. And my I could write a series of books describing how wonderful and sweet he is, and how very much I love, but you’re hear to read about tea instead! So please give a warm welcome to J!
Years ago, a longtime friend sent me a care package with a ton of goodies, including a collection of loose leaf tea.
Mom had just started getting into the obsession hobby, and being a coffee drinker, I didn’t even own an infuser.
So it sat.
We’ve cracked a few vials since then, on vacation and an occasional cup at home. Judging from what’s left, the “berry fruit tea” flavour is a favourite, though there’s a hibiscus & lemon vial that’s been tried too.
So what have I picked for this review? Computer…
Famous words from an idyllic future?
Full confession, I meant to do a review months ago and forgot, and my second go ’round was less flavourful than I remember, but we’re not sure if maybe I skimped on the tea leaves, or if it just aged on me.
So after a third and fourth attempt, we abandoned my batch of tea leaves and opened Mom’s packet. Mom’s tea was called Cream of Earl Grey by Puck.
The first sips reminded me of every other tea, but after a second, I noticed it is very flowery…so orange pekoe and flowers?
All told, it’s not bad, but probably not a “go-to”, but as Mom said, maybe ‘you’ve just never had a proper cup of Earl Grey tea’ before.
Happiness [is] only real when shared.
John Krakauer, Into the Wild
BTW: If you would like to share your favourite tea and tea mug on the last Monday of the month, please pass it on!
Baby squirrels were chasing each other in the yard yesterday afternoon and enjoying the first of the apples to fall off the tree. I suspect a couple of recent strong wind storms prompted their premature departure from the branches. The apples, not the squirrels.
I watched them playing while sipping David’s Bumbleberry Burst tea.
A bumbleberry is a perfect mixture of burple and binkle berries, which grow on a giggle bush. Giggle bushes are extremely rare, as they only grow in special places. As the bush begins to shake, the burple and binkle will begin to ripen from green to a deep purple. At the exact moment that the berries are perfectly ripen, they will giggle. This transformation may last for hours as the bushes quiver, and if you are quiet enough, you may hear them.
If you can’t find an elusive giggle bush, you can re-create bumbleberry flavour using a compilation of fresh berries in your pies, jams and other delicious baked goods.
Fresh berries are slowly coming into season, so instead of ice, I used fresh, frozen blackberries to keep it cool.
At first, I felt about disappointed with this tea. The name had “burst” in it! As well, there was a pungent aroma wafting from the sleeve, so I expected a sweet, bright, mouthwatering berry flavour. Instead, it seemed flat, missing that punch of flavour. What it does deliver is a subtle fruitiness with floral notes, that as an iced tea, totally work! I think in North America we’ve become developed cravings for highly sugared, “dessert-y” treats. Because this tea isn’t highly sugared, it could easily be dismissed, but it was very refreshing on this warm, sunny afternoon.
David’s Blackberry Burst tea is rosy brown in colour, and the loose leaf tea itself was a warm mixture of creams and browns, with a vibrant splash of indigo petals. It is a pu’erh based tea, so caffeinated. It also includes apple, raisin, ginger, hibiscus, elderberry, strawberry and currant flavouring, beetroot, candied ginger, carrot, blueberry, garcinia, raspberry, cornflower, nutmeg, and stevia extract.
Dear Diary – Someone in my family asked me why I bring a travel mug of tea in the car to church, only to leave it in the car. Especially when I’m there early for rehearsal.
I had to patiently explain that this is the tea…that will get me to Tim Horton’s so I can buy more tea. Duh!
Tea – a magical elixor that turns “leave me alone or die” into “good morning sweetie”.
Dear Diary – Sometimes the sense of smell doesn’t seem like a gift. Hubby has no sense of smell. I believed him when, having been assaulted coming down the stairs but a big baby “bomb”, the kind where if it were a cartoon drawing, noxious green gas would be snaking across the floor, I told Hubby “your son reaks”. Hubby lifted son’s butt to his face and inhaled, and swore he couldn’t smell it. My eyes were burning. I could smell colour. Every creature within a 5 mile radius had already run for their lives as if pursued by a dark evil from the abyss. And Hubby was blissfully (and legitimately) oblivious!
As a result, I am the “tester” for all things foul…is this milk bad? Does this bread smell mouldy to you? This week it was, does my garbage can stink? That’s exactly where I planned to stick my face this evening…how did he know?
Occassionally, he can catch whiffs of something. Or the odd scent becomes noxiously potent to him, like the vanilla handcream I used to keep in my desk at the law firm. He could smell it hours and many hand washings after I put it on, so much so that I had to give it away, rather than cause him to have a severe allergic reaction.
Vanilla handcream he can smell, but the dead mice and potent posterior poops are all mine. Oh Goody!
Dear Diary – We have been getting quotes on our HVAC system since everything is at least 20 years old and needs to move out. Hubby was late for the most recent appointment, so I had to fill in. I did my best not to the let the sales guy see my eyes glazing over as he explained the whats and whys of his recommendation. Hubby arrived home before I completely passed out from boredom.
Shortly after that, I excused myself to answer the phone. I was literally saved by the bell. I forgot I had potatoes boiling on the stove (for potato-stuffed meatloaf) and they were just boiling dry. I whisked the smelly pot to the back porch as the men were coming up from the basement. The sales guy commented that someone’s been cooking and it smelled really good.
It did not.
Maybe he has no sense of smell either.
Dear Diary – This week I saw a chiropodist. Apparently it’s pronounced with a “ch”, not a “sh”, and I’ve been saying it wrong for years. I was really hoping there would be something I could do to regain my mobility with less pain, and stay off the heavy duty medication that may or may not have made me sick and/or contributed to the death flu I had in May.
I felt bad for this lovely young thing handling my alligator feet. The recommendation was braces.
When I was a tween, I desperately wanted braces (for my teeth) because all the popular kids had them. So I’m wondering, will these braces make me popular in the nouveau geriatric circles?
I really don’t mind getting older…but my body is taking it badly!
Dear Diary – I haven’t been swallowed in my jungle garden yet, but the job is far from complete. I did almost get eaten by a horde of angry ants. On Saturday, I also had the pleasure of watching Mr. Cardinal and his son. Like a Dad teaching his son how to drive, they flew circuits together around the backyards all afternoon.
This morning I’m pretty sure I spotted son navigating the neighbourhood on his own.
I hope my birdfeeder becomes his regular hang-out too, and I will get a photo session, just like I did dear old Dad.
Dear Diary – Probably the biggest news of the month: I FINALLY opened my Etsy store! In the last week, I made 0 sales, but I have 2 admirers. I know both of them…but it counts!
I have more inventory to upload…and I went fabric shopping again, so more projects to undertake.
And I’m happy!
Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.
The sun is shining, it’s not too hot, and while not everything isn’t “peachy” in my world, I’m choosing to join with the birds and sing!
This morning I fixed myself a cup of T-Kettle’s Peaches & Cream tea, after I hung out the clothes to dry on the line.
Of all the peach teas I’ve reviewed, this tea boasts the fewest ingredients and it’s the only one that is not an herbal infusion. Peaches & Cream is a black tea base, so it’s is high in caffeine. It also includes mango, peach, amaranth petals and camomile petals. Amaranth is a plant long used for medical purposes, boasting a purple-coloured flower. It should not be consumed by dogs, cows, or people with kidney issues. Strange list, but apparently true. Some studies suggest it may help lower chloresterol, but no study has conclusive evidence that this is the case in people, at least.
It has a delicate colour despite being a black tea base (but you can’t, which didn’t show up in this vintage tea cup so you’ll have to trust me). I also appreciated the depth the black tea gave to the peach flavour. Often I find peach teas taste as though they are artificially sweetened (some actually list peach juice granules as an ingredient, so it’s not wonder!) and like they’re missing something! Overall, it was tasty, but I think I prefer peach teas as an iced tea on a hot day.
Other peach teas I have reviewed include Tetley’s Peach Bellini and Ginger Peach with Dandelion, both of which are caffeine-free and contain hibiscus and blackberry leaves. Another summer favourite was David’s Tea “Just Peachy“. I used Peach Bellini to make sorbet last year, and T-Kettle’s Peaches & Cream would work just as well! Yum!
Life is better than death, I believe, if only because it is less boring, and because it has fresh peaches in it.
June has arrived and with it, strawberry season! Luscious, sweet, juicy red berries that pop in your mouth. Even sweeter when plucked by hand and eaten still warm from the sun.
T.Kettle’s Strawberry & Kiwi looseleaf tea smells like fresh strawberries. It is a fruit infusion blend of apple, hibiscus, rosehip, papaya, strawberry leaves, strawberry, kiwi, and red plum petals is caffeine-free and vegan.
I really thought the colours of the looseleaf tea was inviting…soft purples and pinks. The tea itself was a soft and delicate rosy pink, which promised sweetness.
I once described strawberry tea as “elusive as a great summer blockbuster. Both have their are high points, but in the end, they just don’t deliver”. This delivered. Even though it had some of the all-too familiar “fruity punch” flavour found in fruit infusions, it also had sweet and slightly tart notes, and a strong strawberry aftertaste. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about kiwi fruit in tea. It’s a very tart, citrus-y berry from New Zealand, and not loved by everyone, but it was a successful pairing. While I didn’t particuarly taste the kiwi fruit, I still think it provided some sourness which only served to enhance the sweetness of the strawberry.
I think this would be a delight as an iced tea as well. I’m definitely adding this to my summer repertoire!
It’s the last Monday of the month and time for a guest post…except that I seem to have run out of friends. And I dropped the ball harrassing my associates because I was sick. So in the interest of doing something creative on this final Monday in May, I took on a chai challenge.
Chai in Hindi means “tea”, and it’s traditionally a blend of black tea with spices, usually combined with milk and sweetened to enhance the spices. It’s become very popular in North America, and many tea sommeliers have created chai blends and flavoured chai blends. For example, I’m currently a big fan of David’s S’mores Chai blend or Baked Apple Chai.
I pulled out every brand of chai in my cupboard, 7 in total, boiled the kettle and made some tasting notes. I’m listing them alphabetically and to keep it short (because all that tea makes one need desperately to pee), I’m giving you the brand, ingredients, and my quick notes.
Brand: David’s Tea
Ingredients: organic, black, ginger, cinnamon, anise, cardamom, clove buds, star anise, black pepper
Tasting Notes: Similar to a traditional chai. There was heat, particularly strong bitter/floral from cardamom and star anise, but felt it lacked depth as a black tea. I may not have used enough. It probably reminded me the most of the chai blend I made at home. This loose leaf was comprised of whole spices (i.e., cardamom pods, star anise) and rolled organic tea leaves. Cost is $9/50g. All the ingredients are listed as organic and the caffeine level is marked “low”.
Brand: President’s Choice
Ingredients: black tea leaves, ginger root, cinnamon bark, star anise fruit, cloves, cardamom seeds
Tasting Notes: More subtle flavour but still very pleasant, with warmth from ginger and cinnamon. Also more cost-effective and available in grocery stores. Sold in individual sachets.
Ingredients: Black tea, cinnamon, cardamom, black peppercorns
Tasting Notes: More expensive. Individual triangualar-shaped fabric tea came in a metal tin. I think it is also sold in sachets in a cardboard box.
This tea has a real kick! Very strong, bold spices, but flavour is overpowered by pepper. My tongue went numb very quickly. Perhaps a bit too “zingy” for me. Also more expensive.
Ingredients: black tea, cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, clover and ginger
Tasting Notes: Aromatic. Makes the tastebuds tingle deliciously. Warmth from ginger and cinnamon. Pleasant blend of the other spices. can be brewed for quite strong cuppa. Reminded me a bit of mild ginger snap cookies. More cost effective and available in most grocery/pharmacies.
Brand: Tim Horton’s
Ingredients: black tea, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, ground peppercorn, cardamom
Tasting Notes: Moderately priced individual satchets sold in Tim Horton’s chains and some grocery stores. Lots of pepper and ginger. Faint mustiness (but it might have been an older bag). I find there is a difference between the sachets sold in stores vs. sold prepared, but I may be a biased because Tim’s stores uses very hot water, and if I’m ordering it prepared, I’ve been out and I “need” a drink! 🙂
Brand: T’Kettle Chai Kick
Ingredients: rooibos, tumeric, cinnamon, ginger, carob, strawberry leaves, coconut, clove, chili pepper, cardamom, black pepper
Tasting Notes: Rosy amber colour, likely because the base is rooibos, which also makes it caffeine-free. A nice option! Spices were evident but I found it quite fruity and sweet, with a predominate flavour of coconut. It is a loose leaf tea, but such a fine grind that it escaped my infuser, leaving a lot of bits floating in the tea cup, which can be off-putting. Cost is comparable to David’s Tea @10/50g.
Ingredients: black tea, cinnamon, cardamom, clover and ginger
Tasting Notes: sweeter than others while retaining warmth from the cinnamon and ginger. A good strong cup of tea. Sold as sachets and harder to find in stores.
Not eveyone is a fan of spicy black teas, but T’Kettle did have a caffeine-free chai, and David’s Tea also provides caffeine-free forms of chai, like Cinnamon Rooibos Chai.
One of my favourite things to do is to steep a regular pot of tea but add an infuser with Chai. Lately my top 2 for this process have been David’s S’Mores Chai and President’s Choice Chocolate Chai. I have also done this after brewing a chai tea as many of those spices retain flavour for more than just one cup.
One reviewer on David’s site recommended steeping some chai with hot chocolate to “lessen the zip”.
Everyone’s taste buds are a little different, but don’t be afraid to get spicy, and try some chai.
No problem on Earth can’t be ameliorated by a hot bath and a cup of tea.
I’m still recovering from the Death Flu (not covid, thank goodness), and it kinda stole my taste for tea. I’m sure it will come back, and it’s not all bad because it has cut my caffeine consumption considerably. I’m replacing it with plain old water, and the occasional cup of orange juice for the vitamin C.
Vitamin C is a natural diuretic, and is known for its cleansing properties. It’s vital to healing and as an antioxidant, protects cells against heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Vitamin C helps your body absorb and store iron, and is a necessity for the formation of blood vessels, cartilage, muscle and collagen in bones.
Citrus Burst, from T.Kettle, may not be high in Vitamin C, but it is lower in caffeine. It contains oolong tea, apple, grapefruit, hibiscus, pineapple, rose petals, papaya, and cornflower petals.
The colour was a bright yellow and the strongest aroma was grapefruit. I found it bright and invigorating, with the tart and slightly bitterness of citrus fruit, and in this particular case, grapefruit! I don’t like teas that taste like soap or perfume, but this had a lovel, light floral note that enhanced the citrus flavours. The second cup I made was steeped for a very long time (I got busy and forgot about it), so it was quite bitter, so maybe don’t do that unless you like your grapefruit strong and sour.
This tea was enjoyable both as hot and an iced tea (and I tried it as an iced tea, not just as the cold tea I left on the counter)! I think it will be quite refreshing in the summer months.
This tea was gifted to me by a sweet friend (actually, her Hubby shopped for it and he has excellent taste in tea…and women)! It reminds me of Tetley’s Citrus Kiss, which was lemon and grapefuit with a green tea base. Both were delicious but I think I prefer the unique pairing of grapefruit and floral with an oolong base because it had more depth to the tea overall. Plus none of the grassy notes that can come through in green tea, or the bitterness from oversteeping green tea.
Spring arrived while I was sleeping, but I’m wide awake now and soaking in the sunshine. At least I did this weekend. It’s raining today. Citrus Burst is definitely going in my summer favs list as my tastebuds turn to all-things fruity and fun! Happy Monday!
I’m gonna soak up the sun I’m gonna tell everyone to lighten up
If you can’t control your peanut butter, you can’t control your life.
Eldest Son introduced me to the videos (and recipes) of B. Dylan Hollis. He’s a social media star who began his “career” just having a little fun posting humourous, monologue-driven cooking vidoes on Tik-Tok. What made him stand out from all the rest is that:
a) he is not a chef or a cook, but rather a jazz musician
b) he uses only vintage recipes.
On Good Friday, Eldest Son and his girlfriend followed Dylan’s recipe and made peanut butter bread – the 1932 version!
This Great Depression recipe is a simple recipe that doesn’t use any eggs or butter. Butter was a prized staple and needed to prepare dinner, not to be used on something as frivilous as dessert. In the city especially, dairy and fresh produce were extremely coveted. However, peanut butter was often a pantry staple because of its long shelf life. It provided the fat needed in baked goods, as well as flavour.
“I tell you, a door hinge could make this recipe”
B. Dylan Hollis
This peanut butter bread looked like a dense loaf, but it was surprisingly light with a subtle peanut butter flavour. It was delicious warmed with butter and honey and paired with hot tea, for an indulgent bedtime snack.
Dylan also tried a 1945 recipe, which used less milk but more salt, sugar and peanut butter. The cooking time was almost cut in half, but that’s because the temperature was much higher. And instead of mixing it all together, this recipe required hands on work, as in working the peanut butter into the flour mixture with your hands.
A week later, back in my kitchen, Eldest Son and I attemped peanut butter bread using Dylan’s recipe (after all of his failed experiments…6 to be exact). His recipe employed a slighty different method to incorporate all the ingredients. He also used less baking powder (to reduce the bitter flavour from too much), and added a room-temperature egg and sweetened applesauce. He noted that this recipe doesn’t work with natural or organic peanut butter because they don’t contain emulsifiers.
I let Eldest Son do most of the work…
But, since the peanut butter had to be mixed in using fingertips much like scones, just like with every jack-o-lantern we ever carved together, I had to get involved because Eldest Son didn’t want to get all sticky. Come to think of it, Youngest Son was the same way. No guts – no glory! Or in October, no jack-o-lantern!
I explained that we had to shag the dough, which led to all kinds of sensual sounds and slightly naughty jokes…
I couldn’t help myself…
We didn’t have any plain sweetened applesauce, so we used unsweetened pear applesauce, and we added chocolate chips. Dylan advised avoiding vanilla extract or spices like cinnamon because they tend to steal some of the peanut butter flavour. And quite frankly, when you’re baking peanut butter bread, you want to taste peanut butter!
We’ve become very spoiled in terms of sweetness. Dylan says this recipe created more of a “dessert bread” than the 1932 recipe. In 1932, the bread was meant to be buttered or jammed, and could be included as part of the meal rather than a sweet at the end. I’d have to agree. The texture of his bread was more cake-like than the 1932 version, and a little heavier and more “roasty”. Of course, the addition of chocolate chips also made it more “dessert-like”.
But who’s complaining?
Both recipes were easy and didn’t require unusual ingredients. I hate reading recipes that require something exotic and expensive, especially when I have to buy a jar, for like 1/4 tsp. And honestly, both loaves tasted great with a cup of tea.
I’m posting the link to the tik tok video on youtube below, for your amusement…or to get the recipes. It’s about 15 minutes, and not as quirky as some of his other videos, but if you’re looking for some inspiration, why not look to the past? Not everything new is “golden”.
I shouldn’t think even millionaires could eat anything nicer than new bread and real butter and honey for tea.
It’s the last Monday of the month and time to share a cuppa with my friend, Elena. She is a talented bassoonist, incredible singer, and a great mom to two busy boys (three if you count her husband). Her great sense of humour and crazy-good storytelling make her a delight to hang out with. We usually hang out together at the church in worship and ladies’ craft and chat. She usually chats. But she has many artistic abilities, including cartoon family portraits!
Let’s hear a cheer for Elena!
(you can do better than that!)
I confess I am not a true tea connoisseur; coffee has always had a starring role in the hierarchy of my caffeine addiction. I do enjoy a black or green tea paired with the right meal, or as an after-dinner cup with company. But herbal teas are my everyday go-to. They keep me toasty on a cold afternoon, act as a warm and steamy balm for a dry throat, or as a method of surviving a dastardly cold. While I am always open to trying new things, I mainly enjoy simple flavours like peppermint, or Earl Grey. I do not recommend the “Mom Special” I recently enjoyed where, upon looking down into the last dregs of my coffee, I discovered this morning’s mint tea bag (I thought it tasted off, though in my defense I was enjoying a mint-chocolate chip cookie as I imbibed).
But today, my cup is filled with one of the only blends I enjoy partaking in regularly: Celestial’s Sleepytime tea with its characteristic sleeping bear on the box, cozied up by the fire with tea and scones nearby. It’s a combination of chamomile and spearmint with just a dash of lemongrass. I must say lemongrass is not something I usually enjoy, though it doesn’t stand out in this blend for which I am thankful. The spearmint fills out the flowery chamomile, and well, it pairs well with honey, I find this tea to be just sweet enough to forgo any add-ons. The chamomile serves to soften and round out the mint, taking away that dry aftertaste that can accompany it when left to its own devices.
Of course how one enjoys their tea is often just as much a part of the comfort of the beverage. I recommend a fancy tea cup if the mood is right, or in a comfy, oversized mug! Today, I offer to you my most unique mug in my collection. It was gifted to me from a lovely little cafe/community art gallery out in Edmonton called The Carrot. The blue dipped glaze is best appreciated in the sunlight, so as to reflect its many shades, and the thick walls do well to keep the tea steamy. Most unusually, it is built to be an on-the-go mug, with its rim rolling in at the top and sealed in the middle with a large, rough cut cork. Three small holes adorn either side of the rim for sipping, and the indented thumb hold on the handle allows for this mug to be comfortably held in either the right or left hand! A well built handle is an often overlooked, but wonderfully key feature in any good mug.
And so, may your tea experience today be one of steam, good flavour, and a comfy handle to boot!