"You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me."
~ C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tea Review: Shanghai Cha's Anji Mountain White

Anji Mountain White - Shanghai Cha
Shanghai Cha
"Our quest for China’s finest teas has been rewarded with five of the most extraordinary flavors you will ever taste. Each leaf is hand-picked only when conditions are perfect. Each batch is hand-fired by a master tea maker, just three ounces at a time. Our teas are found in remote villages, on steep mountain slopes, ringed by mists, where the sun warms just enough, and the rain falls at the right time. You can taste the flavors of these mountains—the jasmine that blooms nearby, the earthiness of the soil—the tea will tell you where its from."
Anji Mountain White Tea
Ingredients: Green tea

Steep Time: 3 minutes

First Sip Thought: "So pure. So fresh."

Smell: The leaves are long, green and needlelike that give off a fresh bamboo aroma with a delicate floral scent. The strong smell is wonderful. It's easy to imagine the outdoors and laying in fresh cut grass under a shady tree when surronded by these tea leaves. The after steep scent is quite similar but a bit more mellow. The liquid is also a very pale yellowish green (even with a longer steep time than usual!)

Taste: While it is recommended to steep this tea for 1 minute, Monica from Shanghai Cha steeps it a bit longer to get a stronger cup. I decided to give that a try and was quite impressed. I was worried at first because I didn't want the delicate tea leaves to ruin and leave myself with a bitter drink but that was not the case. Don't let the name of this tea confuse you as it is actually a green tea. The name comes from the colour of the unprocessed leaves as they are white. Anji Bai is grown near the famous bamboo forests of Anji, outside of Shanghai region. The tea leaves are young whole leaves with the buds still visible. It is not hard to admire them before, during and after steeps. With the first sip I gather a light sweetness and vegetal undertones--almost grassy. I grasped some fruity notes after several sips and was able to notice more fruit like flavours such as apples after a few more resteeps. This tea is so pure, so fresh, and oh so amazing.
I would also like to make note that the service from Shanghai Cha is outstanding. When I was told I was being sent a sample, I was expecting enough tea leaves for two or three cups of tea. However, Monica sent me a full 51g container. I can also go on and on about how beautiful the packaging was made and the lovely handwritten note that went along with it. In addition, I was suprised and super excited to find a lovely bamboo scoop along with the tea. Many fancy tea photos will be coming on my Instagram that shall feature that beauty now! 

*You can order this tea at their website www.shanghaicha.com. Use promo code SIPCHA at the check out to recieve 25% off your order.

Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 tea leaves
**If you or someone you know would like a tea reviewed, contact me.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Masala Chai Pickled Apple Pie Crumble Recipe

As the weather cools down and the leaves are falling I begin to resort to comfort type foods to cozy up with and indulge in. Of course, not all comfort foods mean unhealthy. I wanted to take a traditional autumn dessert and have a healthy, tea infused spin on it.

I have recently been addicted to Quest Bars. If you haven't heard of them before they are protein bars that come in many delicious flavours. I always think I have a favourite until I try another flavour and realize it's just as delicious. Quest Bars are different from most commercial protein bars because they have a short list of ingredients and ones you can pronounce. In today's recipe, I felt inspired from their Apple Pie Quest Bar and of course, had to involve tea in it some way, some how. With 20 grams of protein, this bar is perfect when you don't want chocolate but are craving something sweet.

This fall inspired recipe is done in two parts - the over night pickling process and then the pie making. You will want to make sure you prepare the pickled apples the night before you make the apple pie crumble to get maximum flavour. If you have leftover apple slices in your pickling jar, you can store them in your fridge for 2 weeks. They are tasty as is, or great to top on salads, ice cream and more!

 Masala Chai Pickled Apple Pie Crumble

(makes one mini apple pie)

Pickling Ingredients

1 medium apple, cut into thin slices
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons Masala Chai (I used this one from The Persimmon Tree)
Pinch of salt
Cinnamon & Ground ginger


1. Combine the vinegar with water, sugar and salt into a saucepan over medium heat.
2. Stir the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved.
3. Turn off the heat and add the Masala Chai directly to the saucepan. Allow it to steep for 5 minutes.
4. Depending on your taste, and the chai used, you may want to mix a pinch of cinnamon and/or ginger to the pot.
5. Fill a jar (mason works well, but any glass will do as long as it has a lid) with your apple slices.
6. As you strain the tea leaves from the pot, pour the pickled mixture over the apples into the jar.
7. Seal the jar tightly and refrigerate overnight.

The following day…

Apple Pie Crumble Ingredients

1 tablespoon Oats
Masala Chai Pickled Apples


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degree fahrenheit.
2. In a greased round baking tray, flatten 3/4 of your Apple Pie Quest Bar to create a base for the dessert. You will want to save the other 1/4 for later.
3. Take your Masala Chai Pickled Apples and layer them on top of the base. If it helps, you can slice the apples into strips. I like to create a checkerboard design with them.
4. Break the last bit of the quest bar into pieces and sprinkle it on top along with the oats and cinnamon. Add as much cinnamon you like, as everyone has different preferences. I even topped it off with crushed up masala chai for that extra boost.
5. Cover with aluminum foil and allow it to bake for 10 minutes. You want the apples and Quest Bar to be warm and soft.
6. When time is up, patiently wait to cool by steeping yourself a cup of your favourite autumn tea. Serve, taste, drink and enjoy!

*If you give this recipe a try, send me a photo of your creation on my Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tea Review: The Persimmon Tree's Lychee Burst

Lychee Burst - The Persimmon Tree 
 The Persimmon Tree®
The Persimmon Tree® offers customers some of the world's finest organic teas and botanical. Their high quality teas are hand-blended and organically grown. When doing my research, what I found most interesting about this company is that some of their teas are also fair trade, ensuring a better life for tea workers from countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Ingredients: Organic Black Loose-Leaf Tea, Lychee Essence, Safflowers, Natural Flavors

Steep Time: 3 minutes

First Sip Thought: "Juicy!"

Smell: The aroma is quite fragrant and really showcases the peach and apricot notes. When it's steeped I can start to recognize another scent that I assume is the lychee essence (I have actually never had a lychee before, so forgive me). I like that it's not overly fruity and that you are still able to identify the black tea in the blend.

Taste: If you're feeling like something fruity but would still like a tea and not a tisane, I would recommend Lychee Burst. Although I have never actually tried lychee before, I'm impressed with this blend for many reasons. One of the best things about this tea is that the black tea base is not masked away from all the fruit flavours. I often find that too many fruit "teas" contain actually little to no tea in it which makes you feel like you're just sipping on fruit infused warm water. Which isn't horrible, but if I want a tea, I want an actual tea, please. Through each sips, I find Lychee Burst to be pleasing and sweet. I like that with this tea the taste and smell match each other. I don't get any artificial flavours from this blend, in fact, I find that the lychee taste is a fresh and natural feeling. I should note that I also added some of The Persimmon Tree's rock sugar to this blend. I first tried the tea without any and noticed in my next sip with the rock sugar included that it assisted with bringing out the flavours. If you're interested in rock sugar, I will have a separate post about it later this month. I'm curious to try this tea cold brewed as I imagine it would resemble juice but of course a much healthier and tastier one. Perhaps I should go out and try a real lychee as well!

Verdict: 4 out of 5 tea leaves
*Like The Persimmon Tree® on Facebook
**If you or someone you know would like a tea reviewed, contact me.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

How to Tea: Tea Leaf Grading & Orange Pekoe

Orange Pekoe is probably a staple in many homes. I know that growing up it was the only tea we had in the house. After many years, I started to think that this was the only tea out there. Silly me.
In North America, it is popular to use the term as a description of a specific variety of black tea. Orange Pekoe (OP) is a term that describes the "grade" of a tea leaf in India or Sri Lanka and it actually has absolutely nothing to do with oranges. Orange refers to the Dutch noble House of Orange-Nassau, which brought tea to Europe during the 18th century. Pekoe refers to the top bud of the tea plant. To be classified as Orange Pekoe, the tea must be composed purely of the top two leaves and bud of the tea plant. 

Tea leaf grading is a process of evaluating the quality of tea leaves. The highest grades are referred to as "orange pekoe". When I was younger, the "orange pekoe" I had indulged in were from tea bags which is referred to as "broken orange pekoe" (BOP) since the leaves are crushed. 

To learn more about grades of tea, RateTea has a great section on their website here

Monday, October 6, 2014

A Cup of Zen: Katherine Bellman

A Cup of Zen is a new series I have begun on my blog. The following is The Cup of Life's second post for the series featuring Katherine Bellman, lifestyle blogger.  For more information and to be featured, please visit its page.
 I am a student of tea, that will never change. After graduating from OCAD University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, I craved to learn more about the drink I had while I worked. I became infused in the tea community in Toronto and graduated from a Tea Sommelier program. My studies continue everyday as I am learning from the leaf and learning Urasenke Japanese Tea Ceremony from a local teacher. On my blog I am sharing a world that tea can take you to as tea is not just a beverage. It is a life and journey that continues on though time itself.
Sunday afternoon I decided it was time to take out my Japanese Tea Ceremony gear. To take time to reflect and practice. I had not practiced at all for almost a year at that point. Let me tell you that it went from just being a practice to a moment that shaped my thoughts for the rest of the day
I set up my yoga mat for after and placed my tools on top. With everything placed together, it reminded me of when I first practiced with my teacher in his tea room. It became very nostalgic.
Sen Rikyu once said when you "make tea, to make tea" and this moment reflected that. The world faded away with my worries as I followed each step. Cleaning my tools each way that was required and finally placing the tea inside the bowl. I had a laser focused practice to do just as Rikyu said, to make tea.
Drinking the tea again as part of the practice took me away. I felt like I was in a small tea room being taught again. Even without my teacher by my side I knew each step and what came next. As I cleaned the tools and the moment ended, that feeling stayed. Bliss and stillness. The moment developed after my yoga practice, I eagerly practiced again with a different matcha. As I folded my fukusa (silk cloth for "cleansing" dry tools) nearing the end of this round of tea, I wanted more. 
It is funny how tea can take us away and leave us wanting more. For me I craved my Japanese Sencha. The moment continued into the evening as I filled my kyuusu, a very small side handled pot, and steeped until there was no more. But there always is more, for another evening.

Where to find Katherine...

*You're turn! Submit your #ACupofZen tea moment to me for a chance to be featured just like this next month!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Dark Chocolate Earl Grey Cookies Recipe

It's always a fun experiment when baking or cooking with tea. I think it might easily be my new favourite thing. The recipe I am sharing with you today kind of resembles a shortbread type cookie. I think they are most perfect when they are fresh out of the oven or quite a treat to dunk in your cuppa. Another plus from this recipe is that your kitchen will smell heavenly for a while. Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Earl Grey Tea Cookies

*This recipe makes approximately 2 dozen cookies.


1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Earl Grey tea leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon water
1/2 cup butter
Dark chocolate chips or Cacao Nibs


1. Add all of the dry ingredients to a food processor and pulse until the tea lease are fine.
2. Add the wet ingredients to the mixture. Blend together until a dough is formed and then fold in your chocolate chips. I used about a handful, as I didn't want too much because the earl grey is the star of this recipe.
3. Form the dough into a log onto parchment paper. Wrap the parchment paper around the dough and roll the log smooth.
4. Cool the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes.
5. When the cooling process is nearing complete, preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
6. When chilled, slice the log into 1/3 inch pieces.
7. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the slice on top.
8. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until edges are golden.
8. Let cool and serve (with more tea, of course!)

*If you give this recipe a try, send me a photo of your creation on my Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram! I would love to hear your thoughts :)

Monday, September 29, 2014

4 teas for Autumn (that are not Pumpkin Spice!)

Following the first day of Autumn, seasonal teas have arrived! We typically gravitate to the ever so popular pumpkin spice flavoured teas (I know I do sometimes!) and some great teas for Autumn get pushed away. Here's my list of 4 teas, in no particular order, that are ones to try this season and contain no pumpkin flavour.
Tea People's Desi Masala Chai - I have reviewed this tea before and there is no surprise that this is my go-to chai. I can never hide the fact that it's my favourite. When I think of Autumn, I think of warm and inviting blends and that is just what this chai is to me. *You can get this tea here.
Art of Tea's AppleTEA'ni - One of the most exciting things about this season (for me, at least) are apples! I remember going apple picking when I was younger and a cup of this tea takes me on a trip down memory lane. With the apple bits, you get a tart green apple taste so if that's your apple preference then this is one to add to your shelf! *You can get this tea here.
Seven Sisters Tea's Yellow Dragon Pu-erh - I had to have a pu-erh tea on this list. When Summer leaves and Autumn creeps in it can often be harder for me to wake up and stay up. If this happens I'll reach for a pu-erh tea and this one has a nice pick me up as the ginger and lemongrass in this tea gets me going and starting the morning off healthy. This tea is also great for multiple infusions! *You can get this tea here.
Steeped Tea's Hawa-Ya-Doin' - Once you read the ingredients to this tea you might wonder why it's on a list of teas for the Autumn season. The papaya, pineapple and coconut all remind me of Summer time and that's why this is a tea I must still have for the new season. I like a reminder of my Summer days and I also still like to drink homemade iced teas and this one is so delicious iced! *You can get this tea through a Steeped Tea Independent Consultant here.
Have you tried any of these teas before? What are some teas you like to enjoy during this Autumn season? Let me know in the comments below!
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