Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Morning fiber, morning tea

Sometimes I stand there in the morning, in the kitchen, staring into space. Boil, kettle, boil.

During one such empty reverie recently, I stared at the side of my cereal box instead. It was a new purchase, a brand I'd never heard of before — Peace cereals (boasting "premium all-natural, non-GMO ingredients that have been verified by a trusted third party") — and a blend called Walnut Spice. My eyes drifted over the ingredients label. That's odd, I thought.

Amid the expected grains, flour, sugars and nuts, the ingredients of this particular cereal include "Assam Black Tea Leaf" and, further on, below some additional spices, "Rooibos Tea Leaf." As much as I enjoy using tea as a savory ingredient, I'm puzzled by the choice to use both regular and the rooibos teas for flavoring here. I contacted the company; no response. Anyone got ideas?

Peace has a sizable line of cereal flavors, including — now this sounds good right about this time of year — Chai Fiber Flakes.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tuesday tea tunes: 'Tea-House Moon'

Full moon tonight. Those autumn moons are usually so crisp and clear. Look up!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Reissue, repackage, repackage

Loves me some Rishi Tea. I start nearly every morning with a pot of their China Breakfast. (Are you shopping amid this Cyber Monday nonsense? Their site offers free shipping today...)

However, while I'm happy they've switched their packaging from metal tea tins to lighter, sustainable foil packages in recycled boxes, I'm bummed that the amount of tea per package has dwindled.

The net weight listed on each container naturally would shrink when moving from heavy metal (3.2 oz.) to lighter cardboard (1.94 oz.). But the tea from two tins used to fill up my cupboard canister, yet the tea from two foil packages barely crosses the three-fourths mark. Alas, the price doesn't seem to have adjusted accordingly.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tuesday tea tunes: I'm a rowdy dowdy

It's a holiday week here in the States, family's coming, it's going to be — as always — a bit crazy. Before the madness begins, I'm taking Nat "King" Cole's advice. I'm taking my sugar to tea ...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tuesday tea TV: 'Cake and tea!'

A scene from one of my favorite films, "Withnail & I," a difficult but rewarding old comedy (Richard E. Grant's debut) about two city blokes on a troublesome country holiday. Here, they visit a tea room, ever so briefly ...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Vote for the (lowercase) tea parties

If you haven't already, be sure to vote today!

Of course, there's a line of teapots emblazoned with dozens of different Obama or Romney slogans and graphics.

We're not overly partisan here at t2, but hey — we can't find any photos of Romney having tea. Just sayin'.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Tea and olives? Ew. Tea olive shrub? Ah!

In certain parts of the country, mostly in the South, there's a lovely shrub that struts its stuff this time of year. It's called the tea olive, and it's basically a bellwether for autumnal temperature changes. When the thermometer swings, the tea olive blooms — and releases a wild, wonderful citrusy scent.

No idea why they're named tea olives. Anyone?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Great tip: Steep and sip

The Washington Post yesterday published an interesting Q&A with Robert Rex-Waller, the tea sommelier (also referred to as the space's "curator") at the Tea Cellar in D.C.'s Park Hyatt Washington. At the end, he's asked for his tea-making tips and gives a few of the basics about loose-leaf and good water, but then he adds this:

Sip as you steep. When he’s steeping a tea for himself, Rex-Waller doesn’t usually look at the clock; he tastes as he goes, until he feels “it hits the spot.” “Most people will know once they’ve gotten to a certain point, when there are flavors that they enjoy.”

This is such excellent advice. Tea time is supposed to be a moment of freedom from our usual slavery to timers and clocks. Also, each spoonful of tea is hardly uniform.

So if it's not difficult to do with the pot you're using, steep the tea with a teaspoon handy. A minute goes by — stir and taste. Another minute, stir and taste. Steep until it tastes right (or the way you want it), not until an arbitrary time — and they're all arbitrary — dictates. Fewer surprises, more satisfaction.

Plus, if you're like me, you forget the timer anyway, walk away — just to do something real quick — and return seven minutes later cursing the ruined brew. Tasting as you go means you stay with the tea, you're part of the process. It's more meditative than you think.