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

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Tea Review: Modern Tea Girl's Fig Peach Oolong from Amoda Tea's Tasting Box

Fig Peach Oolong - Modern Tea Girl
I was able to try this oolong thanks to Amoda Tea and their Holiday Tasting Box. You can learn more about them in my previous blog post here.
"The Modern Tea Girl brand is more than just delicious teas. It's a whole line of unique tea and tea-inspired products to fit the lifestyle of a modern tea girl. Feminine and fun, Modern Tea Girl offers hand-crafted teas, tea-inspired dry frosting mixes, modern tea tools, tea charms and other fun ways to experience and share tea."
Ingredients: Se Chung Oolong, Golden figs, Mission figs, Apricots, Peaches

Steep Time:
4 minutes

First Sip Thought: "Sweet & silky treat."

Smell: The aroma of the dry leaves is pretty pleasant. As the leaves begin to steep, I gather a scent that is mellow but I am still able to notice sweet notes from the figs, peaches and apricots.

Taste: It's been oolong time since I had a tea with figs in it (haha, too corny?) I will admit I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed this tea. I was worried that I would be turned away by the figs in this oolong but to me that is what made this tea so exquisite! It is an interesting combination that works quite well. While the dark oolong is the star with its earthy and silky texture, the figs, apricots and peaches enhanced the flavours nicely. The figs are noticeable through each sip more than the apricots and peaches. I can get a hint of peaches every now and then but the figs play a bigger role in this blend which makes for a naturally sweet taste. It is always nice to have a tea blend that doesn't mask away the actual tea but also keeps the ingredients real and not just artificial flavourings. I do not think this tea would have been as enjoyable without its real ingredients. That special touch gives this tea the uniqueness and the "freshly picked" flavours it deserves.

I first enjoyed this treat after Christmas dinner and was impressed with its dessert like qualities. With its mellow characters, it was the perfect end to a big meal and accompanied my pie nicely as it did not overpower.

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

Monday, January 19, 2015

Discover, Sample & Shop Craft Teas with Amoda Tea

Amoda Tea is an online destination to discover, sample and shop the industry's top brands and their teas. Their purpose is to make the the world's best tasting teas more accessible. Before I became obsessed and well into tea, I would have only thought of tea bags, and teas that were accessible from a grocery store only. I didn't know well enough to know that there was a world of tea outside of big chain grocery stores. It wasn't until before I went away to college that I was introduced to the world of loose leaf tea through a store called Teaopia (which Teavana bought and now operates them through their name). Teaopia was my version of heaven but looking back I felt like I was a bit closed minded to the idea of any other brand of teas out there. I had become loyal to the Teaopia brand. I had tea accessories with their logo on it. I felt it was only right to drink their teas and only their teas. 
When I began to share teas with friends and go out for tea at cafes I started to notice Teaopia wasn't on the list of brands they sold there. With no choice, I had to give another brand a chance and realize that there is a world of tea out there that is much bigger than just Teaopia or other big name tea brands. It took me a while: a lot of tea cafe trips, research, and tea blogging (not that I'm complaining) but I finally found love for tea in other places. Today, you're more likely to find me drinking a tea from a smaller tea company you may have never heard of. And that's okay, because I'm more than likely going to tell you all about them. 

If you are just getting into tea or trying to expand your tea collection, Amoda Tea is a great resource. I wish it was around when I was first trying things out for myself. That would have made it a lot easier. With 13 tea brands, Amoda Tea is the door to your tea tasting experience. They have a "The Monthly Box" which is a monthly subscription that sends you 4 different teas, blended in small-batches and sourced from industry leading tea companies worldwide. They're a one stop shop for all your craft tea needs. With craft tea, you won't experience that same tea anywhere else. You are also able to buy teas individually from the brands they support through their online craft tea shop. Their craft tea selections are all-natural (no artificial flavourings) and many are organic and/or fair-trade.
Amoda Tea's Holiday Tasting Box
Over the Holidays, I had a chance to try out Amoda Tea's Holiday Tasting Box. I had two favourite teas from that box (I couldn't narrow it down. I promise I tried.) and they are both from different tea companies. Check back on my blog within the next coming weeks as I will be reviewing those two teas later.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Tea Review: Eco-Cha's Dong Ding Oolong

Dong Ding Oolong - Eco-Cha
"Eco-Cha was born out of a passion for tea in which life-long friendships, careers, and cross-cultural exchanges have grown and flourished. We now aim to share this deeply rooted connection to Taiwan Tea by offering you a direct window into this complex and colorful world."
Source: www.instagram.com/teaaholic
Ingredients: Medium oxidized and medium-heavily roasted Oolong

Steep Time:
3 minutes

First Sip Thought: "Squash."

Smell: Before I enjoyed the slightly roasty and floral aroma, I admired the leaves for quite some time. They are dark and tightly rolled which of course makes it more fun to watch steep.

Taste: You may remember when I wrote about Eco-Cha and their mission late last year. You can view that post here. This tea was hand picked in small batches September 2014 in Yong Long, Nantou, Taiwan (just above Dong Ding Mountain). Hand picked. When you drink this tea, stop and think about that for a moment. You'll appreciate your cup a lot more. This oolong is not as strong as I was hoping but still offers great flavours. To explain my first sip thought, the initial few sips taste just like a plate full of freshly roasted vegetables. Eco-Cha narrows it down to a roasted summer squash as the predominant flavour and I have to agree. I also noticed a dry fruit flavour along with nutty characters. So I guess you can also say another thought that came to my mind during the first sip was "trail mix!" This tea has me very excited to give the rest of the oolongs I have from Eco-Cha a try.

 
Verdict: 4 out of 5 tea leaves
**If you or someone you know would like a tea reviewed, contact me.

Monday, January 12, 2015

3rd Annual Toronto Tea Festival - For The Love of Tea

Immerse yourself in the domain of tea from the traditional to the modern, at the 3rd annual Toronto Tea Festival on Saturday, January 31 and Sunday, February 1, 2015 from 10:00am until 5:00pm at the Bram & Bluma Appel Salon, Toronto Central Reference Library. 
The 3rd annual Toronto Tea Festival has gathered world-renowned tea sommeliers, internationally published authors, historical fashion experts, musicians and vendors who are keen to steep the enquiring, novice and aficionado in tea lore and culture.

The Toronto Tea Festival features courtesy tea tastings, scrumptious tea-food offerings, and formal tea ceremonies based in the Korean, Japanese, and Chinese styles. Seminars and presentations with Q&A’s by internationally renowned speakers and authors will be hosted in specially appointed rooms. Exhibitors offer the opportunity to choose and purchase your personally selected special blend of teas, tea-related products and exquisite tea ware by artisans in the main and side salon. Tea inspired music will complement the festival experience, along with a fashion show featuring the millennia old Hanfu style clothing.

“The Toronto Tea Festival has proven beyond doubt that the tea revolution is happening right now. We are looking forward to presenting the 3rd annual Toronto Tea Festival and sharing the world of tea.” said Tao Wu, proprietor, Tao Tea Leaf.

“The return of the 3rd annual Toronto Tea Festival is an exciting step in spreading the joys of tea,” says Bill Kamula, Tea Guild of Canada Chair. “Tea is one of the fastest growing segments of the beverage market, and this festival presents an opportunity for interested consumers to explore the many aspects of tea culture and new products under one roof. This year’s festival will feature more than 30 exhibitors that will address our attendees diverse tea related needs.”

For a complete listing of the Toronto Tea Festival events and to purchase tickets in advance please visit – www.teafestivaltoronto.com

Tickets also available at Tao Tea Leaf934 Yonge Street – (647) 878-6934. taotealeaf.com
Majesteas Tea950 Queen Street East – (647) 350-4646. store.majesteas.ca

Ticket Prices:

Early Bird until January 20, 2015 – One Day – $12.00 or Two Day Pass – $20.00
Regular Admission – One Date – $15.00 or Two Day Pass – $25.00

*Attendees will receive a limited edition, reusable cloth, Toronto Tea Festival bag with a glass tasting cup.

Returning – The FREE Speaker Series – To avoid the lineup and guarantee your seat, the Toronto Tea Festival is offering VIP Speaker Series tickets in advance – $2.00 per seminar, available online or at Tao Tea Leaf.

 Here's a look back at the 2014 Toronto Tea Festival...


The Cup of Life is very excited to be attending the Toronto Tea Festival for the first time. Will you be attending as well? If so, be sure to connect if we pass by! 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Banana Chocolate Shanghai Cha Tea Muffin Recipe

Sometimes when the weather starts to drop and so does my motivation to work, all I can think of doing at the time is baking. Of course, when I get creative in the kitchen I need to find a way to make tea involved. You may remember when I reviewed a tea from Shanghai Cha last year. Their Anji Mountain White tea quickly became a 2014 favourite and I was excited when they shared a recipe with me that featured the tea. 

Ingredients 

1 large egg
1 medium ripped banana fully mashed
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with the rack in the centre.
  2. Brew one tablespoon white tea in 1 cup of hot water for 3-4 minutes. Strain out the leaves and let the liquid cool to room temperature before mixing it with the wet ingredients. 
  3. Line 24 regular sized muffin cups with paper liners.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk all the dry ingredients together.
  5. In a separate bowl, mix together all the wet ingredients, including the room temperature tea. 
  6. Slowing add the wet ingredients to the large bowl of dry ingredients and mix until they are combined evenly. 
  7. Pour the batter into the muffin cups filling them about 4/5 of the way.
  8. Place the muffins into the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  9. Remove and let them cool on a wire rack.
  10. Enjoy!
Want to create this recipe from Shanghai Cha? Feel free to download and print out the recipe card from them below!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

#ACupofZen: Sarah {Giveaway Winner!}

A Cup of Zen is a new series I have begun on my blog. The following is The Cup of Life's fifth post for the series featuring Sarah, the winner from our Buddha Teas giveaway. For more information and to be featured, please visit its page.
Source: http://rainbowrandomness.deviantart.com
I am a single mother of 2 who longs for a cup of tea after a rewarding but tiring day. I have always found comfort in a cup and I believe it has helped shaped me into who I am today. Before tea, I relied heavily on coffee. It was coffee first thing in the morning and in the early afternoon. When I was introduced to the world of tea through a few of my girlfriends, I never looked back. As an avid reader, I was happy to find The Cup of Life to learn more about tea and creative ways I could incorporate it into my life some more.

I remember a moment with tea that happened right after I put my kids to bed for the night. It's usually then and only then that I can get some alone time. I got cozy in my night robe and put the kettle on while I was flicking through the television channels for something eye catching in my living room. Once my tea was prepared, I took it with me to the couch and it felt like I was sitting down for the first time that day.

During that moment I realized my alone time was much more than just a time for tea and late night television. It was a time to reflect on my day. It was a time for me to recognize that the life I have is the life I always wanted. It was a time for me to collect my thoughts and it was a time for me to clear my mind while just sitting there in peace. Before I turn off the television and take my last sip of tea, I sit and think about my kids. I wonder how they will be like when they are older and I wonder if they will have tea moments like this one day. Once I see the bottom of my cup, I come back into reality and tuck myself into bed. 

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

Friday, January 2, 2015

Tea Review: Jalam Tea's Naka Unfermented Puerh

Naka Unfermented Puerh - Jalam Teas 
"Freshly picked leaves lie in a tea field in the Naka region of southern Yunnan province." (Source: JalamTeas.com)
Ingredients:
Green Unfermented Puerh

Steep Time: 2 minutes

First Sip Thought: "Quite sweet."

Smell: This puerh is aromatic as ever. The strong aroma is nice and not at all too much. I can also notice floral characters with the scent.

Taste: This tea was harvested in Autumn 2013 in the region of Naka. Harvested from bushes of roughly 30 years old from fields of 1500 metres Jalam Teas' Naka is on the high scale of altitude range. They state that "higher altitudes and lower temperatures provide a recipe for slower growth generally which benefits the plant and in the words of locals, 'makes a deeper flavour'. Higher altitudes also aid in keeping a minimum of natural tea leaf predators at bay."

This is a very pleasant tea to enjoy. I wasn't surprised though because I am also impressed with the quality of teas I received from Jalam Teas. Before the first steep you can already sense the freshness and with each taste that occurs a sweet astringency is noticeable. The sweetness is the one thing I was quite surprised about. I enjoy this puerh in the early afternoon as it can be quite powerful for a quick pick me up, especially since I prefer longer infusions. However, even within a few seconds this tea can become quite strong. It's great to experiment with times to find the perfect taste for yourself.
Verdict: 4 out of 5 tea leaves


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