Friday, January 20, 2012

High time for tea

Show me Your Tea Stash at Strocel.comI wasn't sure what would inspire me to post today until I clicked over to Anktangle and saw her note about's call to Show Me Your Tea Stash.

Hey, that sounded fun. And easy enough. I thought.

Here's my tea, and my tea commemorating adventure.

There were a few problems. One is that we have a lot of tea, in a not-big-at-all kitchen.

I couldn't get far enough back to fit the whole cabinet into the picture.

So I had to transfer it all to the stairs. Which I quickly realized had the worst lighting in the known universe. But I had already moved it all.

And my son was yelling at me to come play dollhouse. Note: How this particular four-year-old boy plays dollhouse is to pretend to set the dolls on fire and have firefighters come to put them out. (Did I mention I need to have a girl?)

I didn't realize till afterward that our camera was on the wrong setting, which wasn't helping matters at all. What I did realize early on was that our battery was almost out of juice and the replacement battery nowhere to be found, so between the yelling at me to play and the super-low battery, I knew I had to take pictures fast. Ah, the glamorous life of a blogger…

The lovely pink and brown boxes are my Sacred Rose organic herbal teas, which I got for reviews I did previously — I drank the Matri nearly daily during the latter part of my pregnancy, and I lurve Morning Blossom.

I just wanted at least one pretty picture in this post. This is not from today, considering the sun has taken a leave of absence.

Next to those are our pretty canisters. We bought the gold ones from the Queen Mary Tea Room when we used to live right near it. (This was years ago. I'm not a big fan of throwing out expired tea, by the by.) La-di-da. I figured out later it was exactly the same tea as in those other, store-bought canisters, only it was cheaper at the store. Good for QM.

Here's me on my 28th birthday, celebrating with a cuppa. Queen Mary's a good place to go if you enjoy borrowing tiaras, being scolded for not making a reservation on a midweek afternoon, and paying $20 for a cucumber sandwich. (Prices approximate.) It's an
experience, in other words.

A less pricey visit for Seattle-area folk would be to Teahouse Kuan Yin in Wallingford, where we bought many of these fancy-schmancy baggies; others were gifts from a friend from Perennial Tea Room, Market Spice, and the like. For a more scenic excursion, Anna's Tea Room in Coupeville, Whidbey Island, offers the QM experience without the QM price. I want to but haven't tried The Tuscan Tea Room in West Seattle yet, because it looks like a place that would be an absolute disaster to take an active young child to. (He might decide all the tablecloths are on fire and that he needs to pour tea all over them to put it out.)

These are some of our tea accessories, mostly used to make loose leaf teas easier to handle. I've had a couple tea ball stainers, but lost one and broke one, and this is a new one that Maria from Sacred Rose sent me as a sweet baby gift, along with (what else?) tea! The green thing I'll talk about below. The card is a helpful instruction card from Remedy Teas for brewing different tea types (how long, how much to scoop, how hot the water temperature, whether they can be resteeped, etc. — you can read it here) that I got by going to an actual tea party that the same tea connoisseur friend threw. (Check out her stash for a gasp of awe.)

I also really love my simple mesh basket strainer. I picked it up at the natural foods grocery store, I believe, but here's a similar-looking stainless one online. Mine rests just inside the rim of our standard-size tea mugs (not sure it would work the same with the jumbo versions a lot of people have nowadays), which makes taking out the leaves and steeping them again easy.

We also have a French press (not this one in particular but one like it), which I like for making the same tea for multiple guests, and a Libre tea glass (steeping upside down, above), which works great — and is pretty — for loose-leaf on the go.

We used to have this electric kettle plus tea warmer, which was actually really awesome for having tea ready at a pleasantly heated temperature throughout the day. But then it started leaking through the on-off switch, which is not a good feature in an electric kettle. Out it went.

This is my newest fun toy, a tea plunger, which the same friend recommended at her tea party. I found mine at the grocery store. I like that it helps me eyeball the correct amount of tea leaves to put in. You just pop the tea leaves into the infuser, close it up, then set it in your cup of hot water to steep. You can even stir it around. And when using a tea that can stand rough handling, such as herbals, you can plunge the tip at the end to squeeze all possible water and flavor out.

I had no idea I had this much to say about tea! Blah blah blah. These are some fun ones we've picked up here and there.

I'll say that the more tea I drink, the more I appreciate it even unadorned and plain black (or green or white or…). If I do sweeten it, I favor raw honey. I've also found that a fun way to simulate a cream Earl Grey is to brew up some Earl Grey (or black tea with bergamot) and add a dash of vanilla. Yum!

I have this sense that it's somehow embarrassing to have a selection of store-bought, tea-bag, flavored teas when displaying a stash to potential snobs. Ah, well, it can't be helped. Because I love me some Celestial Seasonings. And let's face it, tea bags are easy. Woot. These are our four favorites. Wild Berry Zinger makes for some easily unsweetened iced tea. The Perfectly Pear White Tea I find to be very delicate in flavor, and lower in caffeine than black tea (which is a good thing when pregnant or nursing). I got into rooibos or red teas when reading The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series (yes, I am easily influenced by books), because Precious Ramotswe drinks honeybush tea, and I was curious. Sam loves the Madagascar Vanilla Red, which has a little spice to it. My favorite and, I like to believe, Mrs. Ramotswe's favorite, is the Peach Apricot Honeybush, which
Celestial Seasonings discontinued. Take a look at these 5-star reviews, Celestial Seasonings, and have pity.

At the same tea party alluded to earlier, we all had a chance to share tea samples. I highly recommend swapping tea with friends!

I could not for the life of me remember how this had all fit into the cupboard the first time. And someone was still yelling at me, so this will do.

Since I'm putting this up so late for you to enter Strocel's link-up and giveaway, I will extend my own, lesser one. To anyone who comments on this post of mine in the next week, I'll enter you into a drawing to send you a sampling of some of my teas. That's all there is to it! The packaging won't be fancy, but I hope you agree that the teas are yum. I'll choose one winner, and the contest is open worldwide.

What are you favorite teas?

Disclosure: This is just me nattering about tea.
No one's asked me to or is sponsoring me,
although I did previously do reviews
for Sacred Rose and Libre Tea.
I'm hosting the tea sample giveaway myself.
Amazon links are affiliate links.
If I don't like a product, I won't be recommending it to you.
See my full disclosure policy here.


Arpita And Jonathan said...

I am loving all these Tea Stash posts!! I must get on one of my own!! I hear ya on the Celestial Seasonings. We love our CS over here!! Bengal Spice is my FAVE. It's a hard day if there's none of that in the house!! I agree I'll never give up my CS and the convenience of a tea bag but am branching out and being more "selective" with loose teas - while totally keeping in mind that the "boutique teas" are often not better than regular good quality teas!! I'll have to try your tea plunger! That looks amazing! You also reminded me that I must do high-tea some time if even just for the experience! :)

Unknown said...

your tea stash is soo purrrty!!! I want to come over and drink some! I probably have just as many, but since they're dispersed worldwide, I wouldn't know... Time to finally live somewhere a bit more steady!

Amber Strocel said...

Thanks so much for joining in the tea-stash-sharing fun!

I love me some Celestial Seasonings, too. I was raised on the stuff, in fact. At my house we had tea (ie - Celestial Seasonings herbal tea) and caffeine tea (what everyone else just calls tea). I don't think I actually had "caffeine tea" until I was in my teens.

Also, guess what? You won my giveaway! Your procrastination pays off.

Danielle said...

Your picture showing the raspberry leaf tea just brought back memories for me. Red Raspberry Leaf tea became my go-to drink in my third trimester. It was this past June and July when the temperatures were blazing hot, so my sweet hubby would brew the Raspberry Leaf tea then cool it and mix it with either lemonade or iced tea and keep it in a pitcher in the fridge. It was wonderfully refreshing...especially mixed with pretty pink lemonade!

Shannon said...

We should go for tea when Amy comes to visit, minus the older, fire fighting children.
Moira has also been fighting fires. So far no people have combusted, but the other night the table kept bursting into flames. I look forward to finding out what kind of imaginative play our trip to the sewage treatment plant will inspire.

Momma Jorje said...

@Arpita And Jonathan

Bengal Spice is da bomb! Love it!

Lauren, you definitely have a lot of tea accessories. You would have liked my mom. She was a bit of a "tea snob" and had tons of teas and tea things. :-) I used to love to have tea and shortbread cookies with her.

Unknown said...

I love your tea ramblings! Excited to have a cuppa with you soon, fellow tea junkie.

Sarah Hull said...

What a great post! I thought I had a good collection of tea...but I think I have some catching up to do! :) I have just recently started drinking tea more regularly. Right now I am really enjoying Peace Tea from Mountain Rose Herbs.

Elizabeth said...

What a nice collection! My personal favorite for tea is peppermint. I'd love to be entered in the drawing please :)

Lisa C said...

I have an insane amount of herbal teas. They take up way too much space! Maybe I should put all the cold and flu and other therapeutic ones I don't use regularly in the closet where we keep our other therapies.

Lauren Wayne said...

@Manic Mrs. Stone: And the winning number is … 3! That makes the lovely Mrs. Stone our WINNAH! (Can you tell I used to live in Boston?)

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