Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Famous Brown Teapot

Did anyone catch NOVA's Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial last night? My day job, for those who don't know, is all about evolution and creationism, so my coworkers and I had a big viewing party. It was awesome.

You may wonder why I'm bringing this up on my tea blog. The answer is that when documentary crews film people, they improvise sets. In our office, they usually use our Bone Clones skulls; NOVA used my two cup Brown Betty teapot. I don't know why they decided to use it - maybe Darwin = English = tea? - but it looked kind of cool. So if you haven't seen it yet or plan to re-watch it, look on the shelf in the clips with Nick Matzke. I just hope this taste of fame hasn't gone to its head.

You can watch Judgment Day online starting Friday 11/16.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Guestblogging over on Design*Sponge, absolutely beautiful things discovered that trying to list all the teapots she loved led to a pretty extensive collection. Yeah, I know how that goes.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Just Ducky

Abandoned ducklings raised in a teacup!

Baby ducks, washed out to sea, rescued by a passing canoeist and nursed back to health IN A TEACUP.

Sweet Christmas, look at that! That is the cutest thing I have ever seen, ever. Those of you with too many teacups (like me) should clearly consider alternate uses. Like baby duck-raising.

(via Cute Overload)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Review: Lupicia Cherry & Peach

It's possible that I'm a huge jerk, because I have to tell you, I'm really excited to be doing a negative review for once. Normally when I don't like tea I just quietly don't write about it, but I'm always saying such nice things about Lupicia that I feel I can justify saying that this tea is awful.

Complaint #1: Lupicia has open tins around their stores for prospective buyers to take a whiff of their teas before buying them. This is clearly not a service I utilized, because this tea smells exactly like cough syrup.

Complaint #2: The tea itself is an inoffensive, if artificial, cherry flavor, but possesses a sharp, coppery, medicinal aftertaste. I don't want to compare it to cough syrup again, so I'll say it's really more like a cough drop. The menthol-eucalyptus ones. Without any of the benefits.

Overall: A half star, because zero stars is reserved for the truly undrinkable, and I drank all 50g of this. Why, I can't tell you. Possibly because I'm cheap and refused to waste the five bucks it cost.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Australians love teabagging

An op-ed in the Sydney Morning Herald decries the state of Australian tea culture. Apparently Australia is full of foodies, but few carry their standards through to tea. The author seems particularly horrified by the prevalence of tea bags over loose tea:
The tea inside the bag has been pulverised so it instantly colours the hot water. You jiggle a little, using much the same motion as a gentleman rearranging his testicles, and then sup the bland result. There's not much flavour, and hardly any of the deeply restorative aroma that comes with properly brewed tea.
Australia, you may not have access to a wide variety of fresh leaf teas in the grocery stores, but at least you have teabagging jokes in your mainstream media.

Any Australians have thoughts on the matter?

Friday, July 13, 2007

SuperNaturale has an excellent basic intro to tea, for those of you looking for a good place to direct confused friends and relatives.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Review: Lupicia Yuzu

When I was teaching in Japan, one of the types of lessons our more advanced students had was to read articles in English and then discuss them. Frequently, these articles - generally from English-language newspapers in Japan - brought up interesting cultural differences between Japan and the west that made for great discussion topics.

The article on yuzu was not one of these articles. See, though not very well known in the US and Europe, yuzu are pretty common in Japan. So to these students, it was kind of like if an advanced Spanish class in America had you read an article about how "Apples are a very popular fruit. They come in many colors, from red to green to yellow!" Every time one of us taught this lesson, the student was like, "I'm paying how much to read this?" (also worth noting: advanced students take lots of lessons, so we often went through this several times a day)

But I never actually tried yuzu. If there's any incentive not to experiment with food, it's Japanese produce prices. The 100yen candy at the convenience store was cultural immersion enough for me, thanks.

So the funny thing is, this tea tasted exactly like how I imagined yuzu would taste, based entirely on that crappy article and my students' descriptions. And since according to most of my students yuzu do not make good eating, this is not a positive thing.

Overall: 2.5 stars. Bitter and unremarkable, and if you can buy Lupicia you can probably find a market selling yuzu, if you're really curious how it tastes.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Cooking with tea (sort of)

There's a Show Us Your Apron event at Lucullian Delights, and since I rarely get to participate in cool foodblog memes (the price of specialization) I jumped at the chance to show off my favorite apron:

It combines my love of tea, my love of dinosaurs (or at least Dinosaur Comics) and my love of bad puns. The drawback is that I hardly ever use it because I'm afraid it'll get stained. Who decided a white apron was a good idea anyways?

He is really enjoying that tea!
From the Natural History Museum, London.

Monday, July 09, 2007

A different kind of flower pot

Isn't this pretty? June was outdoor home month at Apartment Therapy: NYC, and this detail from an apartment in Romania struck me as a charming way to use an extra teapot. Extra points for getting it to grow through the spout.

Of course, while teapots have long been recognized as good alternatives to traditional flower pots, tea cups are generally too small for planting. Fortunately, San Francisco Apartment Therapy found a solution in the form of a teacup planter. According to the site,
while Gitta's Plant Cup planter could probably hold a gallon or two of English Breakfast tea, we think you're better off filling it daisies or tulips.
I can't say I endorse that conclusion.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Review: Lupicia Sakura Vert

Slightly salty cherry leaves are blended into green tea, presenting a fresh clean taste. You will feel as if you are surrounded by young cherry leaves swaying in a balmy breeze.

First, a warning: I went to San Francisco this weekend because I knew Lupicia had gotten a restock recently, and ended up walking out with a free-with-purchase 30 tea sampler. So those of you who are sick of my single brand reviews might want to avoid this blog for the next little bit.*

"Because the tin is pretty" is not the best reason to buy a tea, but it's not the worst, either. And that's really the only reason I had to buy this, and its companion Sakura (Sakura Houjicha was also available, but I am not a huge fan of the houjicha and wasn't willing to risk it, even if the tin was the cutest). Don't get me wrong, it's not that I thought it would be bad; I just had no idea whether it would be good.

Actually, I was originally disappointed that the Sakuranbo tins mentioned in Lupicia's April newsletter weren't in stock, as they're very cute and cherry is more in the vein of the fruity teas I usually drink. Now that I've realized America is just a newsletter behind Japan, I'm still disappointed, as apparently we don't get the girly White Day varieties Cookie, Vanilla, and BonBon. What's the deal, Japan? We don't get a tea salon, and now you're holding out on us for flavors?

But back to Sakura Vert. I was a little concerned about a tea that billed itself as "slightly salty". Sure, a number of the teas I enjoy - Gunpowder being the most obvious example - are a little on the salty side, but most of the teas I've gotten from Lupicia have been sweet and fruity, and that's what I've come to expect from them. Also, there's a big difference between naturally salty undertones and actually salting the leaves, as this does.

So, evaluation? Very salty, as teas go; not much in the way of scent, either brewed or unbrewed; slightly smoky. It's very Japanese, and would be awesome for a cherry blossom viewing party (is there a more concise translation of hanami?), assuming you weren't having booze, which is a pretty big assumption. Lupicia says it would be good with bento or sweets, but I think it would be better with something sturdier - maybe a nice sandwich.

Overall: I'll say three stars. Good, but not really my style.**

*That's a lie. Please don't go, I'm so lonely...
**"Not my cup of tea" deliberately avoided

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Review: Lupicia Momo Oolong Super Grade

Oh my gosh, you guys! Can it be? It is! My first five-star rating!

I should probably mention, here, my bias towards peach. I love peaches and things flavored like peaches more than pretty much any other flavor. (maybe not chocolate) I can eat more than a pound of Fuzzy Peaches in a sitting (that would be a sour peach gummy candy, for you non-Canadians).

But that's not why this tea is rad. Unlike the grapefruit flavor in Lupicia's Grapefruit Green, and despite what could be expected from the strong peach scent of the unbrewed leaves, the peach in this is actually very subtle, letting the oolong flavor through. And such a nice oolong it is! "Super Grade" is one of those terms that can be applied arbitrarily and therefore means nothing but "probably pretty good," but Lupicia comes through.

Overall: five stars

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Splash! Sip! Tea Isn't Just for Grandmas Anymore!

So, I enjoy comic books. And there's sort of a running joke in the comic book community about how every six months or so a newspaper will write an article called "Bang! Pow! Comics Aren't Just for Kids Anymore!" Now, since the grim-and-gritty era of superhero comics is generally accepted to have begun in 1986 (with Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Alan Moore's Watchmen), this really should not count as news.

That's kind of how I felt when I saw this article on the popularity of tea.

Tea, trendy? Aaram Millones, owner of the Earth and Tea Café on Main Street, thinks so.

"They say tea is the new wine," he said.

It’s hard to argue with his claim about your grandma’s favorite beverage: In the past 18 months, Harrisonburg has gotten two tea shops within a block of each other.

Tea is gaining popularity? Stop the presses!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Things I'm coveting

So, I'm not buying things at the moment. My plan to move back to Canada both robs me of my spare cash flow and makes me reluctant to add to my already copious belongings. But if I wasn't so restrained, these are the things I might be buying.

Le Creuset Teapot in Citrus
I have no idea whether Le Creuset stoneware is as good as the metal stuff, and I don't care. This is simply the brightest, happiest teapot I think I've ever seen, and I love it for strictly aesthetic reasons.

And really, it probably is pretty good.

Teapot Cookie Cutter
My parents - at whose house I do most of my cookie baking - have an absurdly large collection of cookie cutters, especially considering that we pretty much only use them at Christmas. They already have a teapot, but it's not as cute.

Copper Tea Kettle
Copper kettles are totally steampunk.

Peach-shaped Teapot
Oh my goodness, this is so cute. I'm a huge fan of peaches; to me, they stand for everything that's great about summer. I'd use this exclusively for fruity green and white teas.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Jackie Chan sez: Green tea = awesome!

First, go read the article. Finished? Okay, what did you think?

a. Wow, I'm going to buy that product right now!
b. Wow, celebrity endorsements are good, but celebrity endorsements by Chinese people are even better!
c. Wow, that guy must get a kickback from the company, because no one can be that enthusiastic about a powdered drink without financial gain!

Jesus, why don't they just call it "JACKIE CHAN'S MAGICAL ANTI-CANCER JUICE" and be done with it? Let's break this down:

1. Antioxidants may have some positive health effects. This does not mean that more of them makes you healthier.
2. Are people still doing the low-carb thing? I thought whole grains were the new black in diet-land.
3. Seriously? Jackie Chan is qualified to tell us what makes good green tea because he's from China? I just. Gaah.

Forget it. Here, check out Sir Thomas Lipton's MySpace Page instead. I think we have reached the logical extreme of fake celebrities on MySpace, you guys.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Review: SpecialTeas Rooibos Orange

My ambivalence for this tea is such that I was originally going to skip writing about it. Because really, once you've said "Oh my god, this smells exactly like orange soda!" a couple different ways, you have to come to some sort of conclusion, which I was failing to do. Orange flavor: pleasantly strong or too strong? Scent: unique and intriguing or off-putting? I didn't have answers.

Fortunately, Roommate Hope came to the rescue.

"I'm still not sure about this tea," I said.

"I really like it!" she replied. "It tastes healthy. Like orange juice and tea, which are both good for you."

It tastes healthy. Brilliant. And why not? Tasting healthy is the reason I like plenty of things, including cottage cheese and quinoa. Of course, those things actually are good for me, while I remain skeptical about the internet's claims that rooibos will cure cancer and make the lame walk and the blind see. Still. Healthy means you can drink it with chocolate and not feel guilty.

Overall: somewhere between two and three and a half stars.