Tag Archives: Tea

Adagio Tea: Product Test

Adagio tea

In looking over some of the previous product reviews, it seems as if I can be a tough grader. So the following review will be a bit of a shock for those of you who are looking for my cynical take on certain products.

I like this tea. I like this tea very much. It is clear that the folks at Adagio Teas understand the nuances of tea. All you need to do to understand this is open up one of their tea bags. Inside is found true loose leaf tea, enough for one cup. Not tea dust like you find in Tetley or Lipton bags, but honest to god loose leaf tea. I nearly fell out of my chair when I saw this

But how does it taste? Pretty damn good. I was going to compare it to Lipton, but Lipton is to tea as a cat is to a lion. Sure, they’re related but only in the vaguest sense.

Adagio Dragonwell tea won out when compared against Tazo’s green tea bags. Adagio had a full grassy taste (which is a good thing) compared to Tazo’s lighter, boxy taste.

Truth be told, I still prefer the looseleaf sans tea bags. Part of it is the taste, but most of my preference comes from the ritual of brewing a hot pot. However, I wouldn’t mind a cup of Adagio if I’m in an area where making a pot of tea isn’t an option (for instance, at work).

Now, permit me to wallow in my guilt for planting a big wet one on the Adagio company.

Technorati Tags: Food, Tea, Product Comparison

Elitist Snob Alert: Heloise gives tea advice

Heloise of Hints from Heloise has decided to give advice on how to snazz up your tea. She writes a particularly odd and (I think) misinformed hint:

Make “exotic” flavors of tea using different flavored tea bags until you find one you enjoy.


Without playing the “Elitist Snob” card too severely, let me just say this: Buy loose leaf tea. Learn how easy it is to “put the kettle on”. Ignore tea bags, as the quality can vary, not just brand to brand, but even box to box.

Do this, and you’ll discover what “exotic” flavors truly are. Bag teas are essetially teas with training wheels.

Oh, and just so we’re clear on this.. the elitist snob is me, not Heloise. I’m sure she’s a wonderful person drinking her iced tea down there in Texas.

Making the Perfect Cup of Tea according to the British Government

The Guardian, ever my favorite English News distributor, reports on the British governments official baseline on how to make the perfect cup of Tea.

What is the British recipe? You can find it in the BS 6008, their 5,000 word official British Standard. And for you engineers out there, you can rest easy knowing that it’s ISO certified.

The abridged version:

  • Use 2g of tea – plus or minus 2% – for every 100ml of water
  • Use a pot of white porcelain or glazed earthenware, with its edge partly serrated and provided with a lid, the skirt of which fits loosely inside
  • Tea flavour and appearance will be affected by the hardness of the water used
  • Fill the pot to within 4mm-6mm of the brim with freshly boiling water
  • After the lid has been placed on top, leave the pot to brew for precisely six minutes
  • Add milk at a ratio of 1.75ml of milk for every 100ml of tea
  • Lift the pot with the lid in place, then “pour tea through the infused leaves into the cup”.
  • Pour in tea on top of milk to prevent scalding the milk. If you pour your milk in last, the best results are with a liquor temperature of 65C-80C.

No word on if there is an ISO-certified British Standard for making fish ‘n chips.

Tea Time at The Empress

tea timeI owe a debt of eternal gratitude to Alan, who suggested that I head over to The Empress to have a spot of tea while I was in Victoria. Well, maybe not eternal gratitude.. after all, I better things to do than thank Alan for the rest of my life (no offence A.), but certainly a pat on the back and a mighty “Thanks!” should do the trick.

The tea is wonderful, and made properly…i.e. not made with tea bags, but with the pot and the kettle. The blend of tea is a custom blend, made almost exclusively for the historic hotel. I say almost, as they are now serving the Empress Blend at a hotel in San Francisco, but the name of the place in San Fran eludes me at the moment.

The Empress blend is a selection of several teas, created by the Metropolitan Tea Company. With components from Assam, Kenya, South India and China, it goes quite nicely with cream and two lumps. It also had a bit of bergamot oil, which gave it a nice fruity subtlety to it. Yum!

The food was simple and elegant. Served on the traditional three-tiered tray, there were tea sandwiches filled with smoked salmon & cream cheese, carrot & ginger, cucumber and egg salad (located on the bottom tier). The mid-tier had an English raisin scone served with Devon-style double Jersey cream and strawberry preserves, and the top? Pastries… tarts, and chocolates and cream puffs….the types of food I would maim for.

A quick word about the scone. I have tasted what is now the benchmark of all scones. It’s not too soft, like the baking-powder tasting fair scone, nor is it too dry, like the scones found at Mimi’s Cafe. And the scones at Starbuck’s? A Blasphemy. No gentle reader, the raisin scone was the scone of the gods. And after tasting it’s delicately warm interior with the cream and jam, I can now mock your scones. Consider your scones mocked! Ha!

As I sat there in the Empress’ lobby, feeling smug and superior as I ate the decadent snacks while reading some Jasper Fforde, the couple next to me was perplexed. The waitress had given them some tea to take home with them (it’s part of the package deal that your $45 Canadian buys you), and they weren’t sure how to make the tea.

“It’s not like a tea bag, where you just place it in hot water. You boil your tea water first, and then pour the water over the tea in a kettle, where you let it sit for a few minutes.”

“But how much tea do I use?” asked the husband.

The waitress, at a loss for some reason, wasn’t able to answer. And they were starting to get on my nerves. I interrupted.

“Pardon me for intruding,” I said. “But I make tea all the time, and usually I find that if you add one tablespoon of tea for each cup you are to make, plus one additional Tablespoon for the pot, that usually works well for me”

The young couple smiled. “Really?… How much water is in a cup?”

“Well, eight ounces is the standard, but you can get away with ten”

The waitress looked relieved. They all thanked me and moved on to their new tea life.

And the waitress? She gave me an additional complimentary box of tea for helping her out. “I could tell you like tea” she said to me. And I do. Even if it means having to stick my nose in other people’s business.

Green Tea Ice Cream

  • 1/2 cup loose leaf green tea
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar

Heat up water in a tea kettle. Bring to boil.

Pour 1/8 cup of hot water into cup with tea leaves. Allow to steep 5-7 minutes.

In a pitcher, mix cream with half and half. Whisk in egg yolks and sugar. When tea is done steeping, pour in tea and two tablespoons of tea leaves. Mix and put into ice cream machine. Stir for 30-40 minutes. Freeze.

Serves alot!

High Tea or not High Tea?

I have a friend who continually corrects my bad english. Most times I accept the correction with grace, as I do think that the ability to speak well affects how people react to you. But there are times that I want to yell at her..”Hey, back off sister! I’m embracing my lower middle-class roots! And if that means that I regress into my background and say ‘Krysta and me went to the mall’, well then that’s what happens.” I then usually visualize myself apologizing profusely at the outburst, and carrying the feelings of vindication and guilt at the same time.
Yeah, my fantasies are what we call “robust”.

At any rate, I now find myself in the position of being much like my friend, correcting people and scoffing at them behind their back. Only it’s not my skill in the Queen’s English that allows me to feel superior…as evidenced by my writing. Rather, it’s the knowledge of the difference between “High Tea” and “Low Tea”.

It started at the B & O Bistro, where I came across their High Tea menu.

“Amateurs”, I thought. “Not one shepard’s pie on the menu.”

Later, I found myself snickering at the high class Sorrento Hotel, who offered a $28 High Tea, including such items as salmon roulades, chicken curry barquettes, celery root salad in cucumber cups, fresh fruit tartlets, madelines, mini cream puffs, petit fours, chocolate pralines, miniature cookies and fresh baked apricot and cherry scones with Devonshire cream and preserves. Again, these items are not part of the traditional British high tea event.

Sorrento has since changed their menu to read the more appropriate “afternoon tea”, but they still only serve Barnes & Watson tea found in tea bags rather than loose leaf. Hard to forgive them for that, especially at $28 a pop. A quick bit of research finds that High Tea is often used when referring to Tea Houses. So let me impart a piece of information.

Tea time in Britain is determined by the height of the table on which the food is served. Low tea is the tea in which crustless sandwiches, petit fors, and salmon roulades are likely to be served. It is a meal of the leisure class, and it takes place between 3-4 p in the afternoon.

High Tea is for the working class of Britain and is akin to our dinner. Meat pies, joints of mutton, and other hearty foods are most likely to be served. Ever hear of Bangers and Mash? Most likely it’s served at High tea. If you want High Tea in Seattle, head to Fado, as it has the menu most like that of high tea.

So next time someone states that they’ve had high tea, respond with “Really? How was the Corned beef and Cabbage?” You can then sit and feel smug with your superior knowledge. And then ask if they used tea bags or loose leaf tea. Respond accordingly. Your friends will most likely look upon you with awe and annoyance.

Two about Tea

I’m posting these simply because I think we all need reminding just how special tea can be, and how special care is needed to brew a right cup. So I bring you these simple tea instructions from two famous authors (both of who are deceased, but not because of their tea consumption).

Firstly; Douglas Adams (from “How to make a cup of tea“):

“…the American habit of bringing a teacup, a tea bag and a pot of hot water to the table is merely the perfect way of making a thin, pale, watery cup of tea that nobody in their right mind would want to drink. The Americans are all mystified about why the English make such a big thing out of tea because most Americans have never had a good cup of tea.”

And Secondly; George Orwell (from “A Nice cup of Tea“):

“Some people would answer that they don’t like tea in itself, that they only drink it in order to be warmed and stimulated, and they need sugar to take the taste away. To those misguided people I would say: Try drinking tea without sugar for, say, a fortnight and it is very unlikely that you will ever want to ruin your tea by sweetening it again.”