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Strawberry Kiwi Tisane (Fruit Tea)

"TeaCo's Fruit 'Teas' are a rich and flavorful fruit drink that is made from a blend of dried fruit pieces, rosehips, hibiscus, and natural flavorings.

These 'Teas' do not contain any actual tea leaves, therefor they are cafeeine-free and provide a delicious and healthy alternative to our regular tea base. These blends contain no added sugar, so they are a low calorie alternative to regular fruit drinks. They are also a good source of Vitamin C and low in carbohydrates." -TeaCo

Ingredients: Dried Strawberry and Kiwi pieces, Rosehips, Hibiscus, and Natural Flavorings.


For those that don't know, a tisane tea is just a fancy word for a herbal tea. Basically, it just means that there is no rooibos (which is sometimes considered a herbal tea too) or camellia sinensis in the blend. Herbal Teas are the ones that are dated back the furthest in history. Many plants and flowers have medicinal properties and for centuries people have been boiling these plants into teas to reap their benefits.

This specific tea contains rosehip and hibiscus. You will often see these two together in tea. Rosehip, or rose haw, is the fruit of a rose plant (not all rose plants make rosehip) that is usually a red-orange color, but can also range from dark purple to black in some species. It is a vitamin-C rich fruit and is often fed to chinchillas and guinea pigs as a way for them to get their vitamin-C. It's also given to horses to improve coat condition and hoof growth. It's vitamin-C content is so high that it's labeled as one of the most vitamin-C rich plants on the planet. Along with tea and a vitamin-C producer, it's also used to make Pálinka (a Hungarian brandy), the hairs inside rosehip are used in anti-itching powders (some, not all), and as a potpourri.

Hibiscus is rosehip's little partner in crime when it comes to tea. As I said before, they are often used together. Their flavors are mellow and blend well with nearly everything. Hibiscus is a flowering plant and it's the flower that is used in most tea blends. These flowers come in many colors; ranging from light pink and white to bright yellows and red-oranges. They also attract butterflies, but also bees. It too is rather high in vitamin-C. Due to it's beautiful coloring and myths surrounding the plant, a red hibiscus flower is traditionally worn by Tahitian women. A single flower is tucked behind the ear. It is used to indicate the wearer's availability for marriage. Some countries crush them up into a sticky juice and use them for making bubbles, this is mostly done by children. A 2008 USDA study shows consuming hibiscus tea lowers blood pressure in a group of pre-hypertensive and mildly hypertensive adults. Three cups of tea daily resulted in an average drop of 8.1 point in their systolic blood pressure, compared to a 1.3 point drop in the volunteers who drank the placebo beverage. Study participants with higher blood pressures readings (129 or above) had a greater response to hibiscus tea: their systolic blood pressure went down by 13.2 points. These data support the idea that drinking hibiscus tea in an amount readily incorporated into the diet may play a role in controlling blood pressure, although more research is required.

While rosehip and hibiscus is wonderful, it is not the star of this tea. The stars of this tea are the strawberry and kiwi. Personally, I would never put a real kiwi in my mouth. I dislike the texture very much, but I do love the taste. The strawberry even takes a backseat to the flavor of the kiwi in this tea. It's tart and yet very sweet. It even takes over most of the scent. That doesn't mean I can't taste the strawberry in it. When you drink it, the strawberry is most certainly the first thing you taste. It's sweet and smooth. But once it washes over your tongue the kiwi takes over and hits you with that strong tart flavor.

The color is very nice. It's a pretty, rose pink color. The longer it steeps, the darker the color. After a seven minute steep time, mine is bordering on a dark pink-red color. Since there is no tea leaves in it, you can steep it for longer periods of time without it becoming bitter. Also, since it's fruit drink, it does well cold or iced. I think it would be nice bottled up with some ice to take with you around town or to the beach. I can just imagine sitting on a beach chair with the sound of the waves and people splashing in the water nearby with my hand wrapped around a bottle of beautiful pink tea with ice cubes floating around in it. It being just sweet enough to wash over your tongue without feeling sickly-sweet with the heat of the beach sun. That would be wonderful.

Overall, a good summertime tea to turn into iced tea (which I'll probably do when it warms up more). Not something I would drink everyday or make for a party or house guests, but just something to sit outside with.

This is not likely to be a tea blend you're going to find sitting on your grocery store shelf, but there is always Amazon. When looking for a fruit tea, always look for brands that have fruit pieces in it. I'd also always recommend loose leaf for these teas, because then you can see the fruit pieces. If you want this specific tea, you can purchase it from TeaCo's website: www.teacoteas.com



Tea Tannins

Tannin(s) is a word I'm sure some of you have seen in this thread once or twice or heard it else where. But what exactly are these 'tannins'? Many beginner tea drinkers probably don't know and I'm sure there are some long time tea drinkers that don't know. Most people say 'I've heard of it, but I don't know what it is'.

Tannin is an astringent bitter plant compound that binds to and precipitates proteins and various other organic compounds including amino acids and alkaloids. The astringency from the tannins is what causes the dry and puckery feeling in the mouth following the consumption of unripened fruit or red wine. It is usually confused with Tannic Acide, but tannin in tea does not contain any tannic acid (which can be used to tan animal hides). Most confuse the two because they look and sound alike...but no one would recommend drinking straight tannic acid or trying to tan animal hide with tea tannin.

Tannins are found in many other foods and drink. For example the seeds of grapes, chocolate that contains cocoa, cranberries, red wine, and some beers contain naturally occurring tannins.

Tannin is found in any tea that contains leaves from the Camellia Sinensis plant, which means most herbal and rooibos teas don't have it. Tannin is responsible for that puckery, bitter taste many associate with green tea. The longer the tea is steeped or brewed, the more tannin that is released. Also, the more oxidized the tea leaves are the more tannin that is released during the brewing. This is why black tea is so 'strong'. The less you steep your tea, the less tannin that is released. Though it should be noted that most tannin is released in the first two minutes of loose leaf steeping and in the first forty seconds of bagged steeping. Keep that in mind. The less steeping time, the less bitter and less strong the tea will taste.

Now, there are good and bad health side affects of tannin. Tannins are said to keep bad bacteria out of your mouth, and tannins help to prevent cavities. So even if stronger teas may stain your teeth with too much drinking, it will also help with bad breath (though your mouth is not the only place for bad breath to be caused) and help with over all dental care.

The bad side effect of too much tannin consumption is that too much of it can interfere with your body absorbing iron. This can cause other health problems with your body. If your iron is low, you may want to talk to your doctor about your tannin intake if you're a big tea drinker. The iron level maybe caused by something else, but the tannin isn't helping it. Tea is one of the biggest sources of tannin, so watch your intake!

On an ending note, if you happen to like that bitter, puckery taste of tannin...squeeze your tea bag after steeping. This will release that last little bit and make your tea stronger.

Viola Odorata

Since the weather has decided to start warming up a little (still windy out, but a very nice wind). It's like clockwork. The moment we get nice weather our yard is filled with those tiny, little purple flowers. They usually have five little petals with a white bit in the center and a yellow stigma in the center.

Most people think these, like the wild chamomile, are weeds. These little darlings are most certainly not 'weeds'. While a dandelion can be considered a weed, despite it's many uses...this little purple darling is not a weed in any sense of the word. It is, in fact, a violet! A little flower that is native to Europe and Asia, but was introduced to North America and Australia.

This little flower's Binomial name name is Viola Odorata, but is commonly referred to as 'Sweet Violet', 'English Violet', 'Common Violet', or 'Garden Violet'. In Victorian times this flower was very popular for it's remarkably sweet scent and was used to produce many perfumes and cosmetics. But over time it has been deemed a 'weed' and something to be ripped out of your yard. I say no! I love seeing the little dots of purple in my yard. Not only that, but it's a very useful plant! That sweet smell is not it's only good quality.

It's very easy to grow these darlings, but the problem people have with them is that they grow anywhere. Wet or dry soil, shade or no shade, sunny or cloudy...they will take over your yard if you don't control them. They need nearly weekly attention. You have to keep them to one area or let them take over. They are very invasive. Once it takes over your yard, it'll take over your neighbor's and they won't appreciate you for that. If you want to keep these darlings, then you're going to need to police them. Rabbits do not eat them enough to control them and most garden stoppers (chemicals or fences to make around a garden) will not stop them as their roots will spread under it and sprout up anyway. So if you don't have the time to control them, then go out there and yank them up and toss them (or mow them down). If you do want some, you're in for a lot of work to keep it from taking over.

Other than the scent, most don't see a use for these violets, but they do have some. They are not hazardous to our health. They can be candied. They can be used to scent your house. They can be used in salad. The root can be used as a laxative and in large doses induce vomiting (though I'm not going over those ones). And, most importantly, they can be used for syrup and TEA!

As a tea, it can be used as a way to fight headaches. Research into using it as a tea has turned up that it naturally produces a small bit of glycoside of salicylic acid (a natural aspirin). It was once recommended that a garland of them be worn about the head to ward off headaches and dizzy spells. Now, like most tea, this is a hit or miss thing. I tend to believe that the more you believe in it, the better it will work.

The syrup can be used for sore throats and coughing. It can be added to iced tea for a sweetener.

Syrup: Pour 1 pint of boiling water over 1 cup packed, of fresh crushed flowers and leaves cover and let stand for 12 hours. Strain and squeeze through cloth, add 2 lb. of sugar and boil for 1 hour or until syrupy. Store in glass jar. Give 1 tbs. -1 tsp. for children 2 or 3 times a day.

Tea: Steep ¼ cup dried or fresh herb in 1 cup of water for 10 min. stain, flavor to taste. Take in ½ cup doses twice a day.

Another use for it, that does not involve ingestion, is to crush up the fresh flowers and add them to your hot bath water. The scent is relaxing and the oil from the crush petals is very soothing to the skin.

And while the leaves are edible, they are very tough and hard to eat...so eat them at your discretion in salads. Also watch out for pesticides when picking these flowers or any flower from a garden. Know what sprays and water you use on a plant before deciding to eat them. Also, check your allergies. You don't want to get sick or hurt after all.

For those that have no idea what flower I'm talking about:

Tea Grades

Have you ever been at the store and picked up a box of black tea tea that says 'Orange Pekoe', bought it, brewed it, and tasted it to realize that there is nothing 'orange' about it or it's taste?

Well, there is a good reason for this. That reason is that 'Orange Pekoe' is not a flavor.

Much like most other foods and beverages, tea (mainly black tea) is graded. Most of these grades vary depending on area and region, but for the most part they are fairly standard. Orange Pekoe is a fairly good grade, but not the best. It's the kind that you're most likely to find at the grocery store. Most of these grades tend to lean towards the types of teas served in India, but they have slowly made their way around the world.

These grades usually describe the type of tea leaf used in the making of the tea.

Pekoe - The leaves of this grade are shorter and not as wiry as an orange pekoe. In Europe this type of leaf is often referred to as curly.

Orange Pekoe (OP) - A good quality tea, consisting of large leaf pieces. Long, thin, wiry leaves which sometimes contain yellow tip or leaf buds. The liquors are light and pale in color.

Flowery Orange Pekoe (FOP) - A leafwhich is as long or longer than on OP but is not as tightly rolled. The cup tends to be lighter than the broken grades.

Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe (GFOP) - A higher quality tea, that includes the golden tips of the young buds leaves.

Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe (TGFOP) - Similar to GFOP, but with an even higher proportion of golden tips. This grade tends to be one of the most sought after, even if it isn't the highest grade.

Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe (FTGFOP) - Extremely high quality TGFOP.

Souchong - A bold, flat leaf, often light in liquor. Formosa and China are the most common producers of this grade.

Broken Orange Pekoe (BOP) - The smallest of leaf grades. The liquor usually has a good color with strength in the cup and is very useful in many blends.

Broken Pekoe (BP) - A very short, even, curly leaf. It develops a dark, heavy cup and is very popular in the Middle East.

Fannings / Dust - The tiny bits and pieces, usually leftovers from processing. Commonly found in low quality tea bags.

Most of the time, you'll never see anything other than 'Orange Pekoe'. It is the most common and is good quality. Most small tea companies don't even use these labeling on their packages (TeaCo doesn't), but that doesn't mean that their product is low quality. It's simply not a widely used grading scale, but it does tend to be useful when you can find it. After all, if a box of tea says 'Fannings' or 'Dust' on it, you're likely to want to put that back on the shelf.

Also, these grades primarily apply only to Black Tea. So it's really not an effective scale for all teas, still it's always good to remember that 'Orange Pekoe' is not a flavor! It means that it's a black tea of decent grading. ^^

Celestial Sleepytime Tea

"In 1969, Celestial Seasonings began blending fresh herbs picked in the Rocky Mountains, transforming the best of nature into delicious and healthful teas. Today, our veteran team of tea experts source more than 100 varieties of the finest quality teas, herbs, spices and fruits from more than 35 different countries to craft our distinctive blends.

The comforting aroma and flavor of spearmint from the Pacific Northwest blends with soothing Egyptian chamomile to make this the perfect cup of tea for bedtime. The ingredients come from all over the world --and all over the world, generations have wound down their day with this classic blend. With herbal ingredients that have been soothing for centuries, Sleepytime helps you relax by blending the best of nature. There's no time like Sleepytime!

Blended in Boulder, Colorado." -Celestial

Ingredients: Chamomile, Spearmint, West Indian Lemongrass, Tilia Flowers, Blackberry Leaves, Orange blossoms, Hawthorn Berries, and Rosebuds.

"Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each." -Henry David Thoreau.


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First things first, if you look at the ingredient list for this tea you will notice that there are no rooibos or Camellia sinensis leaves. That is because this is a herbal tea, not a 'true' tea. It is not made from any parts of a tea plant or tea bush. In truth, even rooibos is considered more of a herbal tea than a true tea. Most herbal teas are made from fruit, flowers, and herbs. These are the kinds most people make when they make homemade teas, mostly because a camellia sinensis or rooibos plant would be rather difficult to grow in your backyard.

Since this is a sleepy time tea, that means it is caffeine free. Also, the great thing about it is that you can drink it during the day. There is no reason not to drink it. Unless you, like many people, find chamomile (or some spell it Camomile) to be sleep inducing. I am lucky enough that it does not do this to me and I can drink this wonderful brew all day long.

Camomile itself is a wonderful plant. For one, I think it's pretty. And if your yard is like mine, then you probably have wild camomile getting ready to poke it's little yellow buds through the ground. Not as attractive as the flowering camomile types, but it works just as well. When it comes to tea...camomile is camomile. Caffeine free camomile teas (whether it's blended with other stuff or not) is great for restlessness in children and flatulent related colic. It's also a good wash for open wounds or sores, though I don't recommend that. In nature, these flowers/buds can be seen blooming mostly in June and July, so keep your eye out.
This is my first bagged tea review, but the instructions are pretty much the same. Instead of 1 tsp of loose leaves, you're going to plop 1 bag of tea into your hot water and let it steep for 4-6 minutes. This tea doesn't really go 'bitter' if you let it sit too long or even if you squeeze the bag, but it does get cold and can give you that dry mouth feel.

The color is really nice for a bagged tea. It's a very lovely golden color. Almost as bright yellow as the camomile flower itself (though not the petals).

As for the taste and smell. Even though I feel the camomile is the real player in it being a sleepy time tea, the biggest scent and taste is the spearmint. Spearmint is, of course, a mint plant. The Mentha spicata plant. Spearmint, like many mints, is very fragrant and aromatic. It is also not very hard to grow. It can grow in full sun shine or the shade and likes wet soil, so if you can get your hands on some, go a head and stick it in your garden. The bright green color is always a nice addition and so is the lovely smell. Drinking this tea is like nibbling on a spearmint leaf (which you can do!). A neat little fact/being proven tidbit about spearmint tea is that it is used as a treatment for hirsutism in women.

The taste itself, other than the spearmint, is actually rather thick. It feels dense on your tongue as it goes down your throat. Personally, I wouldn't add anything to this tea, but honey wouldn't be bad. Also, since it doesn't have any tea leaves in it to get bitter, it does well if you drink it slow or iced.

Over all, this is a lovely tea. Not as good as fresh made or loose leaf camomile and spearmint tea, but a very good substitute and for use in a pinch. It's a nice way to unwind for the day. Sit with a nice, hot cup of sleepytime tea and a good book while cuddled up in a nice thick blanket after a hard day of work or dealing with a cold or rainy day...I can see nothing better than that.

This is a tea that shouldn't be too hard to find at your local grocery store, but if not you can easily get it on Amazon.



Chocolate Butterscotch Rooibos

"TeaCo's Rooibos Tea is made from the leaves of the Red Bush plant which is grown in South Africa. It is not derived from the traditional Camillia sinensis plant like most other teas, therefore it is considered as an herbal drink. It is traditionally drank with sugar and milk, though many drinkers today prefer it plain or with a bit of honey.

Rooibos tea is high in anti-oxidants and many minerals. It is also caffeine free. Studies have shown Rooibos tea to help prevent cancer, increase immune functions, and reduces headaches, insomnia, and irritability.

Ingredients: Rooibos tea, Chocolate chips, Butterscotch chips, and Natural flavorings." -TeaCo


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Once again, I would like to point out that while I believe in the health benefits of tea, most of the studies done are not 'proven' or done in a controlled setting/environment. The health benefits of teas are things that I prefer to think of as 'home remedies'. Yes, it is high in anti-oxidants, but depending on your diet, activity, and life style...drinking a cup of tea a day while sitting around eating nothing but pizza and candy, the tea isn't going to help. For me, tea is a light feeling drink. It makes you feel warm and happy and makes it easy to jump up and move around or sit back and relax.

Now, while tea may be good for you and better for you than most drinks...don't force yourself to drink it. It's not medicine. Don't chug it down while holding your nose like you would for nasty tasting cough syrup just to get the good benefits of it. All, natural, teas have anti-oxidants. So if you're going to drink it for that, find a flavor and type you like.

Remember, Rooibos is naturally caffeine free! The next step up from this tea type for caffeine is white tea.

Anyway, today I have brewed myself a cup of TeaCo's Choco-Butterscotch Rooibos. Since I've already discussed the importance of using a tea ball for loose leaf tea, let's discuss when a tea ball fails. Rooibos is a 'broom' like plant. This basically means that the 'leafs' are thin and almost needle like. When dried out and made to be used for tea they became like tiny, little splinters that seep through every little opening...even that of a mesh tea ball. They slip through the crease of the two ball parts and even through the mesh itself. I'm sure not all Rooibos does this, but this one sure does.

After a few little experiments, I find the best thing to do is to make a tea bag or empty one and fill it up with the tea, the stuff that into the tea ball. That should prevent any tea leaves from seeping out. On the other hand, you can forgo the tea ball and bag all together and use a French Press or Infuser. Both of which would work wonderfully for this kind of fine leaf tea.

Unlike green tea, Rooibos takes a 5-7 minute seeping. The longer it seeps, the darker the color and richer the taste. Over seeping (more than 10 minutes) will leave you with bitter, cold tea. So watch the clock or set a timer. This specific blend has chocolate and butterscotch chips in it. I recommend either using very hot water or just putting the chips in the bottom of your cup. I put them in the bottom of my cup and just stirred till they melted. Doing as I do tends to leave the water looking a little cloudy rather than that clear, red color that Rooibos gives, but it doesn't hurt the flavor one bit.

As for the color, when not putting the chips in the bottom of the cup, it should be a rich, deep rusty color or a beautiful, dark amber color. It really is one of the most beautiful colored teas I've ever seen. The chocolate/butterscotch chips even give it a 'shine' and makes it almost glitter. It's really amazing. Just like the Pom-Green Tea from before, you may need to bob the tea ball or bag a little to get the color to mix with the water.

The taste is almost as wonderful as it looks. It's rich and smooth. Naturally sweet and warm. Not a bit of bitterness in it at all. It's almost creamy and buttery. I don't know how it would taste iced, but I wouldn't dare put ice in it. It really does taste perfect at a lukewarm temperature. Even the smell is nice. Before putting the chocolate/butterscotch chips in, you should dunk just the tea in with the hot water and take a good smell. It's hard to describe, but it smells warm, buttery, and just made me smile. While you can really smell the butterscotch just from opening the canister, you can't really smell it once it's mixed in the water. The Rooibos itself smells fantastic. It's dusty and deep.

As I've said before, I don't really add anything to my teas other than what is in the bag/canister...but yes, traditionally it is drank with milk, honey, and lemon. I don't like adding milk to tea, I think it tastes funny and sour. But I do like honey with plain green tea and lemon in nearly anything. While I don't think this blend needs anything added, I can see lemon giving it a nice tang to balance out the sweetness.

Overall, this is a wonderful tea experience. The flavor is deep without being over powering. It doesn't leave any kind of 'weird' after taste. While I still think green tea is a good starter for people just starting to drink tea, this would not be a bad start either.



What is Tea?


Most people don't know the difference between white, green, black, and oolong tea. Rooibos is even stranger on it's own! Other than taste and color, most people probably couldn't tell you very much about these teas. Strangely enough, all these teas (except rooibos) are harvested from the same plant. The Camellia sinensis. The difference between these teas have to do with how much oxidation the leaf in question goes through. Not to go into too much detail about oxidation, but the simplest terms are: Oxidation is the loss of electrons or an increase in oxidation state by a molecule, atom, or ion.

On a small side note, we also have 'Kukicha' which is twig tea and made from the stems and twigs of the camellia rather than the leaves.

For those that have never seen a 'tea plant', here is a nice picture:



It's a beautiful plant and if you ever get the chance to actually handle one, I highly recommend it. To get an idea of how big one plant is...the flower is usually about 2-4 centimeters with about 7-8 petals. The leaves are about 4-5 centimeters long and about 2-5 centimeters wide, and contain about 4% caffeine. As for height, they can grow higher than six feet and are considered a tree or a shrub.

White tea is taken from the buds and younger leaves. It's allowed to wither naturally in the sun light before placed through production to prevent further oxidation. White tea also tends to contain more of the natural 'goodness' that is in tea. White tea also contains less caffeine than other teas (with the exception of rooibos).

Green tea leaves a just barely more developed than white tea and put through the bare minimum of oxidation. This gives it that 'bitter' taste people associate it with. Unless specifically stated on the packaging, green tea contains caffeine. The amount varies per cup and how many leaves you use and such, but a good way to judge is the average serving of brewed coffee contains 145 mg of caffeine, the same serving size of green tea provides 25 mg. That isn't perfectly right, but it's about as close as you can get. The average serving would be an 8oz cup.

Black tea is a very highly oxidized tea. More so than white, green, and oolong. It also contains the most caffeine. Despite it being called a 'black' tea, the color is actually a rich reddish color. Strange since rooibos is the 'red tea'. Where green tea tends to lose it's flavor after sitting on the shelf for a year or so, black tea travels and sits much better. It can hold it's flavor for several years of shelf life. This makes it one of the most widely traveled teas (in the past and before better shipping methods emerged). Some of the most well known tea blends are made from black tea. Such as Earl Grey, English Breakfast, and Irish Breakfast. If green tea provides about 25 mg of caffeine per average serving, black tea provides about 45-60 mg; so this is not the tea for people trying to avoid caffeine.

Oolong tea is withered under a strong sun and then highly oxidized to get it's flavor and 'curled' look. It is one of the only teas that you can use the same leaves more than once. Most teas lose much of their flavor after the first brew, but oolong can be used 2-4 times and still maintain much of the flavor. While it's hard to pin point how much caffeine is in oolong, it is less than black and green tea.

Another, strange, tea is Pu-erh tea. I've never tasted this tea before, but I've seen it and plan on tasting it sometime in the future. The strange thing about this tea is that it's compacted very tightly into a ball. It's sometimes called 'dark tea'. While with other teas you just want to heat the water, not boil it, with Pu-erh you have to boil the water. Since many forms of Pu-erh are sold in brick or large ball form, you'll need a knife/letter opener/pu'er knife to pry chunks off.  Or you can steam it and flake pieces off for brewing.

Rooibos is one of the only teas not made from the Camellia plant. It is grown in South Africa and considered the 'red bush' or 'red tea'. It is also considered an herbal tea. Rooibos comes in two specific types. Red and Green. Red is more easily produced and oxidized, while the Green is unoxidized and much harder to produce (it's produced much like green tea is and is more expensive than the 'red'). It is commonly drank with a slice of lemon  and sugar or honey to sweeten. Though many do drink it naturally because it is said to have a sweet, nutty flavor on it's own. The color of natural rooibos tea is a beautiful, deep amber color. This is also one of the only teas I've had to fight with. The fine, needle like leaves slip through even my mesh tea ball. I had to wrap it in cheese cloth and stuff it into my tea ball. Rooibos is also naturally caffeine free!

Rooibos Plant:



Well...I've rambled on long enough. I hope some people found this informative.

~Teacup Fairy

Which Tea is for You?

With a world of teas out there, it would be impossible for me to pin down every single one of them. While I feel that people should give any tea offered to them a try, that doesn't mean people will. Some people are looking for something specific and it can be hard to find.

Sencha
Best for: Green Tea beginners. It's sweet and mellow, without the bitter bite that some other green teas have. Great with sushi or dessert.

Genmaicha
Best for: And afternoon pick-me-up. This Japanese green tea is mixed with roasted rice kernels. It has a savory smell, almost like popcorn.

Sur le Nil
Best for: After-dinner relaxing. Its flavor is more delicate than that of many green teas. Think of it as chamomile-plus, with hints of lemon and spice.

High Mountain Oolong
Best for: Relaxing after work. It's made with thick tea leaves, which gives it a full floral flavor with an earthy finish. A good balance for before dinner.

Wood Dragon Oolong
Best for: Guys who've quit coffee. Because it contains more stem than leaf, this strong, woodsy brew has significantly less caffeine than other oolong teas.

Honey Phoenix Oolong
Best for: Wintertime defrosting. It's a robust tea, with a flavor almost like a cherry pit. That makes it sweet, with a tinge of bitterness.

Vanilla Rooibos
Best for: Dessert, and not just because it's free of caffeine. You'll taste a light sweetness followed by a creamy finish.

Cassis
Best for: Snapping awake on a cold morning. This black tea is rich and powerful. You'll taste black currants, with a sweet, dry finish.

Pu-erh Tuocha
Best for: Coffee drinkers. It's strong and earthy, and has a kick of caffeine. The black tea comes pressed into nuggets, which break apart when you boil them.

This info comes straight from www.menshealth.com/mhlists/health-benefits-of-tea/Genmaicha.php#slidetop (yes, I read Men's Health sometimes).

I read this article in the magazine and thought it would be nice to share. ^^ So enjoy!

Loose Leaf Pomegranate Green Tea

"TeaCo's Green Tea is a 'True' tea with leaves coming from the Camellia Sinensis plant. It is created by the leaves going through very little oxidation while being processed. There are many health benefits to drinking green tea. Green tea is anti-oxidant rich and has been linked to lowering cholesterol levels. Studies have also shown that green tea is healpful in preventing or reducing cancer, arthritis, infection, and cardiovascular disease.

TeaCo's Pomegranate Green Tea is made from the finest ingredients possible. This freshness is unmatched in the tea industry and provides the consumer with one of the most unique drinks imaginable.

Ingredients: Green Tea, Pomegranate Peel, Hibiscus Flower, and Natural Pomegranate Flavoring." -TeaCo


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Now, while Green Tea does have health benefits, it does not mean that drinking a cup a day is going to keep you healthy forever. The health aspects of Green Tea are widely debated. Over a decade of studies to determine all the health aspects of tea and yet there are very few real-world evidence. Most of the facts are coming out of labs and not from word of mouth reports. There are very few studies actually done on humans to determine the exact effects of Green Tea.

Despite that, it does have important antioxidants and compounds that help in maintaining good health. The antioxidants in Green Tea are similar to the ones found in grapes and berries, red wine, and dark chocolate. It is also unknown just how much Green Tea would need to be consumed in order to reap the full benefits of the leaves.

Still...it's good to drink.

Today I've brewed myself a cup of TeaCo's Pom-Green Tea. For Loose Leaf Tea you're going to want some way to get the leaves and pieces out of the cup (though they are not harmful to digest). You can use a tea ball, French Press, tea strainer, cheese cloth, or even make your own tea bag. I use a combination of tea ball packed with a homemade tea bag. To make the tea bag you can either purchase empty bags and fill them yourself or pay $1 for those boxes of 100 Iced Tea bags at the store and empty them yourself. I empty them myself and save the Iced Tea leaves for use in the summer when I need to make pitchers of Sweet Ice Tea for parties and what not.

Measure out your leaves 1tsp per 8oz of water. My cup holds 10 oz and I like my tea a little stronger, so I put 2tsp. Heat your water and dunk your bag or press into your infuser. Let steep for 2-5 minutes depending on how strong you like it. The longer is steeps, the stronger the flavor. Be aware that the longer your tea steeps, the more bitter it can become too. For a first time taster, I would say about 3 minutes steeping should do to get you a nice, light flavor.

The color should be a light, tannish color. You may need to bob the tea ball or bag a little to get the coloring and flavor to disperse. If you look in the cup before that, you can see the tea water settling at the bottom of the cup. But don't worry, once mixed up it won't separate again. The longer you let it steep, the darker the color will be.

As for the taste, since I like mine a little stronger, tastes a bit like biting into a Pomegranate seed. It's a light flavor (even after 5 minutes of steeping) and you just barely get them smell of the fruit after steeping. While steeping the scent is a little stronger. Those with not-so-good sense of smell may not smell anything at all. The taste washes all over your tongue, getting more bitter as it reaches the back and down your throat. Strangely enough, if you have ever bitten your cheek or lip while chewing or anything like that...it kind of leaves that irony taste in your mouth for a few minutes after drinking.

While I don't add anything to my teas, this is a tea that can have honey easily added to it without damaging the flavor. The honey may make it easier for some people to drink it since most people are more used to sugary flavors. Again, I don't do this, but I have in the past and I don't enjoy it. Still, many people do and it doesn't hurt the flavor. It will get rid of that irony after taste and does cut some of the bitterness if you over steep. I would say that about 1/2 to 1tsp of honey is more than enough for a 8-10oz cup.

Personally, I think it's a nice starter tea. Like most Green Teas, it can sit and cool without losing it's taste. Personally, I like dropping a few cubes of ice into it.

Once again, if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments and I will get to you in due time. Also, if you would like to purchase this exact tea, you can get it from: www.teacoteas.com in their green tea section. You can also find it on Amazon from other brands. I recommend Biglow, Yoga Teas, and The Republic of Tea.

~Teacup Fairy

Apr. 14th, 2011

Okay...so with a little encouragement and a lot of embarrassment to get over, I've decided to fall in a friend's wonderful footsteps with his Beer Blog and write about tea. I love tea. Whether it be bag, loose leaf, store bought, or home made...tea is amazing!

Now, to start off, I just want to say that I am not an expert. My opinion of tea and such is in no way to be take as factual. I will do my best to provide truthful and honest information, but when it comes to the taste of the tea and what I prefer is all my opinion. I do like to think that I know a lot about tea, but there is a world of tea that I've never delved into. I do hope, one day, to sample at least a little bit of everything.

You might be wondering what exactly I'm going to put in this blog, well, I'll tell you. Not just my opinion on the teas I sample, but pictures of them before and after brewing. Also, I hope to do my best to describe the taste and smell of the teas. I would also like to delve into the health benefits of tea. The differences between bagged and loose leaf. Tea balls and infusers. And even try to answer any questions people may have. I'd also like to teach people how to make their own teas (it's not that hard) and what types of herbs and such that you can find right in your yard to make them with.

Tea has a long history, after all, what's easier than finding some plants and tossing them into warm water? I don't wish to go into great detail about it's history, but it's been around for a very long time. There are dozens and dozens types of tea and I couldn't possibly give the exact, historical details of everyone of them...but I will try my best to provide accurate information.

Anyway...most of my tea comes from Teaco. They are a wonderful, little tea company that is still getting to it's feet and nestled in the hills of West Virgina. The company was founded by a mother and daughter team that worked painstakingly in their kitchen to create tea blends, mostly specialty dessert and cocktail blends. They are, currently, still expanding and are one of the largest specialty tea companies in the United States. They are currently working on making their first bottles of bottled tea for market. Most of this information can be found on their web page as well as their page. They hope that by the end of 2011 that they will have 20 stores open nationwide. You can find a list of their currently opened stores and soon to be open stores on their website.

Now, as much as I love TeaCo, they can be expensive. Good, quality tea is usually a little pricey, but they are not the only options. Grocery stores can offer a wide selection of good, bagged and loose leaf tea...you just have to look hard enough. Always check the ingredient listings on the box. If it has artificial or chemicals in it...[b]put it back![/b]

Also, you should have the right tools for making tea. It's not complicated. A tea kettle, either a simple ]metal one, glass one, cast iron one (be aware that cast iron does season and develop a taste), or an eletric one. All of them are good and have their own benefits, but they all do the same thing...boil water. If you're going to use loose leaf tea, you're going to need a tea ball, these come in many shapes and sizes. I prefer the ones with mesh because there is less chance of any small bits floating out. You can also use a French Press, but the longer the tea stays in the water the stronger the flavor becomes and eventually becomes bitter. I don't like using them, but whatever floats your boat. I'll go into more detail about infusers and French presses later on. Last, but not least, you will need a cup! Any cup will do, but I prefer a nice, big coffee mug.

If you're going to make homemade tea, there are a few more 'tools', but I'll get into that later when the weather warms up some more and I can actually find some stuff to make tea out of outside (other than the dandelions, which do make good tea!).

That is all I have to say for right now. I think I've rambled on enough for one post. I will, hopefully, not embarrass myself doing this. If you have any tea related questions, please ask them in the comments. I will reply in due time.

~Teacup Fairy