Tag Archives: tea party tuesday

Tea Party Tuesday: Profumo di Capri

It’s a national holiday here in Italy, and while I was promised a parade replete with marching bands and elderly veterans in feathered hats, the truth is, it’s raining and no one seems to want to go out.

I spent some time on the island of Capri recently (I’m publishing my guide to the area tomorrow!) and the whole place smells incredible; imagine your fantasy laundry detergent plus the base notes of you favorite aunt’s signature everyday perfume in the ’90s with just a dash of brine. Everything smells just like that. It’s enough to make you highly likely to buy ANYTHING labeled “smells somewhat like here.” My credit card statement will confirm this.

Right before I got on the ferry home, I was browsing a little tourist shop for some candied Capri lemon peels and noticed they were selling the island’s signature tea blend. Since I cannot resist coming home with a tiny sachet of tea, it came in a cute tin, and it said that was Capri-scented, I bought 50 grams.

When I got home, I popped open the (very cute) tin and took a whiff. It smells not at all like tea, but rather strongly of Lemon Pledge, a scent I associate strongly with a fear of disappointing my mom and low-stakes accomplishment. A meaningful connection, to be sure, but maybe not the best impression for a tea to make. I dumped out five grams to take a look, and it was not photogenic; the lemon peels aren’t very yellow, and the leaves themselves were unshapely.

I brewed it according to the instructions and…it tastes like Lemon Pledge (or what I imagine Lemon Pledge tastes like had my mother not repeatedly warned me not to drink cleaning products as a child).

Look, sometimes you buy a dud. If you’re in a country where no one really likes tea on an island where it’s always sunny in a tourist shop that traffics mostly in liquors and bon bons, you should expect you’re going to get sub-par tea. In retrospect, I should have heeded a few warnings: one, the importers for this tea are based in Ferrara. Two, the label didn’t tell me anything about the mysterious “té nero limone” so it really could have been anything. Three, the one piece of info on the can said something to the effect of “packaged for the XYZ Brothers’ Liquor Distributors.” The takeaway is that I’m an idiot.

Silver lining? I think I can salvage it as some Delta-style lemon-mint iced tea here in a few weeks when the weather turns around. Tell me of your tea fails, readers! Surely I cannot be the only one.

Tea Party Tuesday: Friday Afternoon

The tea of the week is Friday Afternoon from Please and Thank You in Louisville, Kentucky, but that’s almost a sidebar for this post. Scroll down until you see pictures if that’s what you’re here for.

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Tea Party Tuesday: Elmwood Inn Lung Ching Green

A couple years ago, I started hearing about this place in Danville, Kentucky, serving world-class teas. Like pilgrimage-worthy teas. Person after person told me about this family who had started a tea room in a historic house, which then took off big time, so much so that they had to close said tea room to meet international demand for their amazing teas. Finally, when my friend Stuart, a local historian and expert on the Boyle County area, recommended it to me, I got in the car.

If you are not from Kentucky, which I suspect you are not, this is probably not particularly noteworthy information to you. If you are from Kentucky, I can hear what you’re thinking, which is probably something along the lines of, “k.” Danville is small, very small. We’re talking low five-figure population small.  The idea that it could sustain a world-class tea shop seems crazy. Hell, the idea that it would even have a tea shop is, in and of itself, unlikely.

But not only is there this lovely shop, but this lovely shop is so popular with locals and visitors alike that all three times I’ve gone, there’s been a line to get tea. The secret of the super-nice, extremely well-informed, low-key Richardson family is out, and for good reason: they’ve got an amazing product and they are willing to talk to you about it for as long as you’re interested.

They’ve got a whole range of historical teas (be still my heart) that I’ll tell you about at a later date, but for now, let’s talk about the Lung Ching Green I picked up on a recent visit.

 

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Look at that! This is the platonic ideal of green tea, if we want to get right down to brass tacks. It’s a classic pan-roasted Chinese green tea and it’s got a simple, earthy taste I love things like it to have. It’s also really pretty; check out how nice those leaves look! You can tell it’s high quality because of how flat and light the leaves are (that’s usually a good indicator with dragon well teas; lower quality ones will often have darker, less uniform leaves). I got three good cups of tea out of this and it stood up really nicely to multiple steepings. The flavor developed differently every time I added more water rather than collapsing and becoming sadder and more faded.

In keeping with the meeting-you-where-you-are ethos of the Elmwood Inn tea experience, this is an easy to make, easy to drink tea that has simple-to-follow prep instructions printed right on the label, making it ideal for a novice tea drinker who just wants to dip a toe into the uh, kettle of very hot tea water? That metaphor fell apart, but bottom line: this is a great tea if you’re new  to tea and want to try a clear-cut example of a near-perfect green tea, but it’s also wonderful if you’ve got a more developed tea palate because it’s just…really good drinking.

This Lung Ching green tea is available on their website (or in person at their adorable shop!) for $12.95/4 ounces.

Have you been to the Elmwood Inn shop? Read any of their great books about tea? Do you have a recommendation for an out-of-the-way tea shop for me? Tell me all about it! I’m listening.

Tea Party Tuesday: Pumpkin Pie

Hello, yes, it’s me! It’s me. I haven’t been around much since getting a full-time writing job and moving not once but twice (Charleston > Louisville > Italy), but I’m back and I wanted to dip my toe back in to blogging with one of my tea reviews.

Let’s get this out of the way: I am #basic. I am the #basickest. I love Target, autumn, yoga, brunch, and sweaters. I score favorably on quizzes such as this one. We can get into how I feel about the term basic at some other time; the fact remains that I am unapologetically #teambasic.

But I digress: Until Friday, I had never had that basic staple, the #starbucks #PSL. I’m on board with pumpkin pie, pumpkin smoothies, pumpkin burgers, and pumpkin cookies, but I’m just not that into sweet coffee drinks. My sweet friend Charlotte (hi, Charlotte!) took me to the airport, and indulged me when I got a 1/6th-the-pumps latte. Look, I had a buy-one-get-one coupon. Basics LOVE coupons. I couldn’t let it expire when I was on the plane. I know you’re on the edge of your seat: I didn’t hate it, but it was still a little too-too for me.

Rather than let them take my Basic Gold Card away, I headed straight for the tea shop and did the second-most basic thing I could: I bought pumpkin spice TEA so I’d have something to blog about on my blog no one reads. I know, so basic.

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And here it is: pumpkin pie tea from the Louisville Tea Company. As you see, it’s a black tea, and honestly, not a great one. Something the LTC (if I may) does really well is range. They’ve got stuff for people weaning off oversugared Lipton to really hard-to-find teas that will impress even the snobbiest drinker. They will happily sell you something from either end of the spectrum without being snotty or pushy about it. If having extremely high-quality leaves is a non-negotiable for you, may I be the first to recommend many of their very, very fine varietals, but if you’re approaching this whole beverage thing with a sense of humor and want to try something kinda fun, then this is for you.

In addition to the leaves, you get pieces of dried pumpkin, cinnamon bark, whole cloves, bits of caramel, and some tiny pumpkin sprinkles. Is it gimmicky? Sure. Is it good? You know what? It is. It brews darker than I had expected, isn’t too sweet, and stands up nicely to two or three steepings. Pumpkin Pie tea calls to mind bonfires and hayrides and apple picking, and those are all fun things I happen to like. I’d recommend this with a little bit of vanilla soymilk first thing in the morning, maybe sweetened with a bit of sorghum.

Pumpkin Pie Black will run you about $7/50g  from Louisville Tea Company. It’s a seasonal item, but you knew that.

Anyone had been surprised at liking a tea outside their usual favorites? Have you had another pumpkin spice tea you enjoyed? Tell me all about it.

Tea Party Tuesday: Lingonberry Green

Confession time: I have a lifestyle crush on Marcus Samuelsson. He is nice-looking, has a neat restaurant, seems to genuinely like his super-hot wife, and exudes competence on Top ChefThe guy just seems to have his life together. This weekend, I took a knife skills class and got to the cooking school a little bit early, giving me just enough time to wander around and spend more money. When I saw that he had a beautifully packaged new tea line, there was no outcome where I didn’t purchase it. 

I mean LOOK at that tin. It's so pretty.

I mean LOOK at that tin. It’s so pretty.

After an agonizing ten minutes deciding which of the four offerings I would select, I left the shop with the Ambessa Lingonberry Green. Let’s start with the downsides before I go on to the fun stuff. Bad part one: it’s a sachet, which I didn’t realize. Bad part two: I did not suddenly become a Beard award winner OR the partner of a model after drinking a big cup of this tea. 

Now, on to the fun part. I love lingonberries. They’re somewhat uncommon in the United States (though if you live up north, you can grow them), but they’re a staple in Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and other consistently cold European nations. They’re tart and sweet, and boast a host of nutritional and medicinal properties that make me wonder what all the fuss about acai berries is. The green tea they’re blended with here is a Japanese sencha, and it’s very delicate. We’ve covered how great green tea is for you in the past, so no need to rehash here.  

The nose on the leaves was just slightly fruity– enough that you knew there was cowberry in your future, but not enough to remind you of Celestial Seasonings Peach Whatever Whatever. I steeped it for threeish minutes and took the bag out and this is what I got:

Incredibly pale, yes?

Incredibly pale, yes?

It’s subtler than I expected– the lingonberries are there if you’re looking for them, but they don’t knock you out. That’s a drawback of some teas that come blended with fruit, and I was glad we sidestepped that particular pitfall. This would make a really nice iced green tea for a hot day, but I enjoyed it in its intended form, too. Definitely recommend, despite the fact that it did not come with complimentary Michelin stars. Ugh. 

The lingonberry green runs about $8 for 40 sachets, and is available here.

Anyone tried any of the other Ambessa teas? I’m curious about the Earl of Harlem!

 

Tea Party Tuesday: DIChai (I’m so sorry)

If you’re still with me after that unforgivable (but very funny) pun, I want to share with you my recipe for homemade chai in honor of this, a midsummer tea party. Chai is one of those things I didn’t realize you could make yourself until I thought about it and was like, “well, obviously it gets made at some point.” If you were wondering, that’s the provenance of about 90% of my DIY projects. Behold, Oprah-free chai:

 

Bonus: A picture of the Nashville Food Trucks book that I just finished editing!

Bonus: A picture of the Nashville Food Trucks book that I just finished editing!

 

I know it’s pretty hot to be thinking about drinking chai, but who doesn’t love an iced bev this time of year? I tried this out a couple different ways (details after the jump), and it was good hot, cold, room temp, and as an ice cube.

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