by Cassandra Vincent
Make your own special brew. No I’m not talking about deadly nightshade or eye of newt. I’m talking about making your own tea blend! Have you ever had just ‘a little bit of this’ and ‘a little bit of that’ but nothing that amounted to enough for one cup of tea and thought, “Hmmm, what if I just threw it all in together and see what happens!” No? Just me? Well, I have had many surprise successes and a few ‘don’t ever do that agains’, but I’ve always had fun. One of the best blends I made recently was combining the remains of a Bai Hao Oolong with some loose herbal peach thing my friend had that was getting old-ish. The combo was so good that all three of us loved it and I had to make another pot. A success!
Another reason to take a hand at blending: have you ever had a tea blend and thought it would be perfect if it had ‘a little more of this’ or ‘a little less of that’ or just didn’t have that one thing in it all? I know I have. I love rose and I love lavender but I’m not fond of raspberry leaf or raspberry flavouring in tea. I only ever found the rose and lavender with the raspberry and I hated it. Solution: getting a black base tea of my choice, rose petals and lavender. Then I could tweak the amounts at will.
For fall time pumpkin spice lattes are everywhere. For that matter pumpkin is everywhere. It’s gotten obnoxious. Once I see pumpkin spice toilet paper I’ll know we have hit the wall with it. But for those who prefer tea there are many such blends out there. I came across a tea shop sampling their version of the pumpkin spice latte and I thought why not try one at home. I used the same style I would with a homemade chai. If you like pumpkin spice and you like tea why not give it a go! Here is what I did:
If you want to get decadent here you can add whipped cream and a piece of candy or if you have a frothing tool you can put a layer of frothed milk on top and sprinkle with the spice of your choice or drizzle some caramel or float a ghost marshmallow in it. The choices are endless!
Making your own delicious concoctions isn’t limited to holiday time of course. This is just dipping a toe in the deep pool of tea blending possibilities. So get your cauldron and start experimenting! Happy Halloween!
by Cassandra Vincent
Both tea and music are in the business of making people feel good. I drink tea because I love how it tastes, I love how it makes me feel, I love the act of sharing it and the story behind it. I also love music. I have been a performer, music maker and lover of music since childhood. I love how music makes me feel, how it connects people and the stories behind the music, like the process behind a work of art, enhance my experience. So here is a preliminary post of what is to be a Tea & Music series exploring music and music makers over a good cup of tea.
I hosted one of the stage shows at this year’s Youbloom LA festival. I also attended some of the panels and was really struck by the keynote speakers from the first day. It is soul jazzing to find people who have worked in an aspect of the entertainment business for many years, achieved great success and who still have a palpable passion for what they do. Even better when they turn around and tell you that you can do it too. Andy Gould and Jeff Jampol have near 50 and 40 year careers respectively with Gould launching and nurturing the careers of artists like Rob Zombie, Pantera, Linkin Park while producing multiple films and Jampol managing bands part of the early San Francisco punk scene and now managing the musical properties of iconic artists like the Ramones and The Doors while also being a film producer and lecturing at UCLA. Damn!
They were a great double team speaking at this year’s Youbloom LA. Along with answering questions and telling interesting industry stories they shared their belief about just how exciting the now of music is. Andy Gould told the crowd not to let anyone tell them they can’t succeed “because you fucking can!” A voice of experience speaking positively cuts through the muck of cynicism and it is awesome to hear. It’s a lot of work, they conceded, but well worth it. I agree with Gould’s statement that you know you’re doing well when your reality is bigger than any dream you could have.
That reality being dream-like may have started with Gould’s early job in the music business as Tea Boy for The Beatles one and only producer George Martin (Andy does recall making tea for McCartney). His first record label was even named Tea Boy Records. Man, tea finds its way in to so many conversations and brings so many people together. And can even start a career in the music industry! It pays to know how to make a great cup of tea! In the next Tea & Music I will sit down with Andy Gould and have a one on one chat over a great cuppa and I look forward to sharing that adventure with you all.
by Cassandra Vincent
Adagio Teas are known for a wide variety of choices from over 10,000 fandom tea blends created by fans of the brand all the way to a Masters collection of single origin, high quality teas. I have reviewed some of their fun Doctor Who themed fandom blends that I have enjoyed. This time I broke out the yixing teapot to explore their version of Formosa Ali Shan.
Note: Did you know that Formosa means shapely/beautiful and was the name given to Taiwan by early Portuguese explorers upon seeing the island: Formosa insula ‘beautiful island’. The name remains to describe this oolong – beautiful indeed!
Adagio Teas are known for a wide variety of choices from over 10,000 fandom tea blends created by tea and entertainment lovers all the way to a Masters collection of single origin, high quality teas. I have reviewed some of their fun Doctor Who themed fandom blends that I have enjoyed. This time I broke out the Yixing teapot to explore their version of Formosa Ali Shan.
A little background quickie – the Portuguese explorers that deemed Taiwan ‘Formosa Insula’ or Beautiful Island’ did so in the 1500s. Dutch and later Chinese influence grew Taiwan into a unique tea producing nation. Tea crops became a significant trade for Taiwan in the late 1700s. Being a small country with unique topography, Taiwan teas focus on quality over quantity with some regions limiting harvesting to twice a year due to elevation. Through the island’s varied history of influence from other tea producing countries Taiwan eventually settled on producing mostly oolongs and quality ones.
Ali Shan is considered a High Mountain Oolong – there are many teas that fall into this distinction which is for those teas grown at 3,300 feet above sea level or higher. Fewer harvests, rarer tea, greater price and I find it is often quite worth it.
This is considered a green oolong. Though that sounds like a contradiction I learned it is due to processing that uses lighter amount of oxidation than other darker oolongs resulting in a character that rests between green and oolong categories having aspects of each. Nice!
Even dry the leaves gave off buttery and floral notes with a bit of vegetal depth, though lighter than other oolongs I’ve had. During my first steep (3 minutes) the leaves gave off a big buttery nose reminiscent of a milk oolong with a softness. In taste I received both the floral (like lilacs) and butter aspects equally. I thought it was very smooth and round and satisfying. In comparison to lower grade Ali Shan’s I’ve had this was fuller with much more in the way of buttery scent and flavor and overall complexity.
This is a pearl tea where the leaves are rolled into a ball-like shape as opposed to other oolongs that are twisted. They are beautiful leaves with varying shades of green. I have found that pearl teas often don’t give up their full flavor until the second or third steep when they have ‘opened up’ more.
I did a second steep for 5 minutes and found that the tea was even more floral though the butter aspect lessened a bit. I had a nice buzz on the tongue on this steeping. This tea will give flavor over multiple steeps – 4 or more depending on your taste. That makes the price point more agreeable. I would drink this again. I shared it with some friends who had never had this kind or level of oolong and they truly enjoyed it. Thanks to Adagio Teas for providing the tea for this exploration.
If you haven’t yet tried a rarer tea I encourage you to expand your experience. Some companies, like Adagio, offer sample sizes enabling you to try a higher price point tea without having to make a large size (and cost) commitment.
I wish you ongoing joyous adventures in great tea!
All opinions are my own. This is not a paid or affiliate post.
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