I love tea gifts and when my friend Joanne went to London and brought me back some Mariage Frères Love Song Tea I was jazzed! Thanks Joanne! So this is a mix of a brief review and a cocktail suggestion.
First, a sip of history:
Founded in 1854 and named for a family with a long history of trading in various goods, Mariage Frères supplied tea and tea accessories to hotels and salons of the noble classes. The main shop has 650+ teas from 36 countries including rare varietals and their signature blends based in perfume tradition.
Love Song Black Tea
This tea embodies the romantic notions of Paris to me, with the flavors of roses and almonds in a black blend base. There are actual rose petals and pieces of almonds not just flavoring. There are no further details on the blend on the website, but I found it can be steeped to a deep strength or to a lighter brew by adjusting the amount of tea without losing balance. It is a quite broken leaf so the steep is quick. At 3 minutes, using my usual amount of tea it was quite strong.
The blend has a lovely balance between the almond and rose flavors – neither overwhelm the tea blend which tastes like it includes a bold Indian leaf. The sweetness of the blend is brought out in different ways when adding cream and/or sweetener of choice. I found I could drink this with or without milk if I brewed it light to average strength. The Love Song Tea line includes a green and a rooibos version also.
Tea & Champagne
We decided to say hello to the New Year with a bubbly glass of fun that includes tea of course. Mixing champagne (or sparkling wine) with other flavors is hardly new. If you have not yet paired the bubbly with tea you may want to try these combinations for any time you are feeling festive – birthdays, weddings, launching of a new project or just because life is worth celebrating.
A very simple, low effort way is pairing a pre-made kombucha of your choice with a champagne/prosecco/sparkling wine. I like the brut or dry versions for a less sweet result. If you put the kombucha in your flute first then pour the bubbly leaving some room at the top you can perfect your mix adding more kombucha or bubbles to taste.
Another option is to steep a strong tea of choice to mix with your bubbly. That is what I did with the Love Song black tea. General suggestion: Steep double the amount of tea you would usually use for a cup in half the water. Here is the lowdown:
I am looking forward to a new year of festive tea adventures to share with you and wish you all many reasons to celebrate in the coming year! Cheers all!
As the temperature gets colder I find myself reaching for more and more liquid comfort. Tea and hot chocolate isn’t a revolutionary concept but if you’ve never tried it I encourage you to indulge your decadent side. My friend had brought me some dark chocolate and half and half which set my craving aflame, and my play-with-my-food side, so here goes:
Now that first version came out like a decadent dark hot chocolate with an echo of tea flavor. So… I made a regular cup of fairly strong black tea and then mixed together equal parts of the straight tea and the chocolate/tea blend. Then I grabbed my friends and did a taste test. We all agreed that though both were delicious, for tea fabulousness the second option won out. Give both a try and see what you like.
1) Cocoa powder: Using cocoa powder and sugar instead of chocolate – this option is less smooth and luxurious but you have a means of increasing or decreasing the chocolatey-ness without adding fat/cocoa butter. Speaking of which, you could add butter to this method if you want that creamy feel.
2) Instant cocoa packets: Hey, use whatcha got. Sometimes you just have a craving for something chocolatey and maybe you’re a student on a budget or that is just what you have on hand. Why not try heating that up with milk/milk substitute of choice and blending it with a cup of tea in equal amounts.
3) Spicy!: You could do this up like a chocolate chai putting spices like a garam masala blend or just some cinnamon in with the tea when it is simmering. Really good.
4) White chocolate: mix it up with the paler version of this treat.
5) Flavored tea and add-ins: Earl Grey hot chocolate is a familiar option to many tea lovers but you could use a caramel tea, a rose tea, or put lavender or orange extract in the mix (yeah, like those chocolate orange holiday treats).
Go ahead! Play with your tea. We won’t tell. Enjoy!
by Cassandra Vincent
I’ve been curious about it before but this year I was able to delve a bit into the Day of the Dead experiencing the beauty and spirit of this holiday over multiple days doing the makeup, photo shoots and visiting altars. In Spanish it is called Dia de Los Muertos and has a history centuries long. This festival has origins in the culture of the ancient indigenous peoples of roughly 3,000 years ago in what we now call Mexico. Celebrated on All Saints Day and All Souls Day, it is a celebration of life and an appreciation of the connections we make in life that death can never sever. People make altars including pictures, candles, colorful flowers and items that the deceased loved one enjoyed from traditional bread and sweets to bottles of bourbon and toys. I’ve seen tiny, colorful altars made in cigar boxes to altars that fill entire rooms. It is such a beautiful holiday visually and emotionally.
I attended a festival this year where many businesses created altars to celebrate those respected and loved who have passed, from family members and staff to entertainers and historical figures. One local tea shop, Bird Pick Tea & Herb, made an altar to tea sage, Lu Yu! From China, Lu Yu lived from 733-804 AD, and is a major figure in tea history having written The Classic Tea (Cha Jing or Ch’a Ching) thought to be the first book on growing and making tea. He was considered a Tea Master and a poet writing of the experience of and reverence for tea. If you ever go to a tea shop that specializes in Chinese teas you are likely to see a statue of him like these:
Like tea, the Day of the Dead brings people together opening the door to conversations that may not otherwise happen. I stopped into a lovely restaurant, Lost at Sea, and the chef/owner Tim Carey shared a drink with me while showing me the altar he made to honor his son. At other stops on the self-guided tour there were altars that celebrated the influence of entertainers whose work I have been inspired by including an altar to Bowie as Jareth from the film Labyrinth in Neon Retro Arcade and a couple of altars to Carrie Fisher focusing on her role as Princess Leia from Star Wars in Cool Haus and Harlowe’s. Enjoy the gallery of altars below.
Every day is worth celebrating the joys of life: connection, fun, good food, love, creativity and something delicious in your cup to wash it all down. This celebration has them all. I wish you many reasons to celebrate and raise your cup. Cheers!
This is not a sponsored post
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!
All Classic Tea Flavored And Funky For Love Of Tea Herbs Infusions Lifestyle And Health Matcha Meditative And ASMR Sessions Recipes And Uses Specialty Tea Brands Spices Tea Accessories Tea Adjacent Tea And... Tea And A Laugh Tea And Art Tea And Holidays Tea And Music Series Tea And TV Tea Around The World Tea Cocktails Tea Events Tea In Film Tea In History Tea Innovations Tea Pros Tea Shops/Shops With Tea Tea Types Teaware