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

Friday, July 31, 2015

July Round Up: The Best, Most Interesting Blogs this Month


I’ve been seeing this done more and more lately - a simple post of a blogger sharing their favourite blog reads over the course of the month, or sometimes a week. I have first seen this in the DIY and Food bloggers community and I’m grateful that Nicole from Tea For Me Please has been doing a great job at tea blog round ups each Friday. I have found so many wonderful, new-to-me, tea bloggers through her round ups.

As you may be able to tell by now, The Cup of Life’s main goal is to inform readers that tea is all about how you make it and I love being able to share with others the many ways to enjoy the beverage. With this, I get my inspiration from an array of blogs. While I'll usually share a post that relates back to tea in some way, I’ll be starting a monthly round up type post for the end of each month sharing with you some of my favourite posts from every type of blogger out there - tea, food, beauty, lifestyle, etc. The categories won't be the same every month. There also won't be an exact number of how many blogs I'll share each month either as I don't want to limit myself. I hope you'll enjoy this series and find some new awesome blogs to add to your reading list!

Tea

Tea For Me Please | Is It Possible to Decaffeinate Tea? - All true tea contains caffeine naturally but there are many out there labelled “decaf”. It is something I stay away from. Nicole does a great job in this post outline some of the science behind what it actually means to decaffeinate tea.

T Ching | Why Tea? - This blog post is beautifully written and it couldn’t have come at a better time as I have just recently been fully immersing myself in the world of Chinese tea and gong fu cha. 

Oolong Owl | Sunday Tea Hoots 4 - Weird Teaware Finds of Ebay
- This was such a fun post to check out on a relaxing Sunday afternoon. Do you have any very unique tea ware lying around? Some of the items here weren’t too crazy but I did get a good laugh from a majority of them!

Tea With Gary | How to be an awesome indie tea shop customer - Inspired by an article on Starbucks "coffee" culture, Gary outlines one simple step on how to be an awesome customer while including a list of things you don't have to worry about in a calm tea environment.

Health

Joyous Health | Refreshingly Delicious Tea & Berry Popsicles - I’ve been following Toronto based Holistic Nutritionist Joy McCarthy for a while and I have been loving all of the collaborations she has with Shelby, founder of The Honest Leaf. In this blog post there is a video with the two showing you how to make healthy popsicles (bonus: it includes tea!)

A Dash of Meg | The Best Detox You Can Do For Yourself (And Your Body Image) - I first found Meg's blog years ago when she did her weekly Tea Tuesday posts. I like to stay up to date with her blog nowadays because she always has a great message to share. This post is no exception. This "detox" is something anyone can do right now!

Lifestyle

Buddhi Box | A Tea Meditation Guide: How To Find Peace in Tea  - This is actually a guest post I did for the monthly yoga subscription box, Buddhi Box. I am grateful to be able to share my passion here and inform people of 10 simple steps to start their spiritual tea journey.

Food

In Search of Yummyness | My Dirty Little Secret - I love that Shareba did a post like this because I can relate to it. She talks about living “a double life” as she works both in journalism and public relations. Comparing the two professions, she also goes into information on what it’s like to be an honest blogger that discloses information such as sponsored posts.

Do you have a blog you think I should check out? Let me know in the comments below!
 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Tea Review: Grace and Green's Organic Morning Matcha

Organic Morning Matcha - Grace and Green

Ingredients: Green tea powder from Uji, Japan

Steep Time: N/A (This matcha was prepared traditionally in a chawan with a chasen and two chashaku scoops)

First Sip Thought: "Starstruck."

Smell: After opening the sealed can, a deep vegetal aroma is released. Freshness is definitely evident as well. The scent has me excited to prepare the matcha and enjoy because I find it to already be calming.

Taste:
Please note that this matcha is not the highest grade, Grace and Green does have a ceremonial matcha that is said to be used on occasions but this morning matcha (or "luxury" as they call it now) is just below it and is perfect for everyday drinking. Even so, I'm in awe of how vibrant green this matcha is exactly. Seeing how it isn't their ceremonial grade, I was expecting something a bit more dull, I suppose. Comparing it to some other brands of matcha that I have had that sold theirs as "ceremonial", this one is definitely a higher quality already just from the colour. 
Arriving fresh in a pop-top sealed can, this matcha green tea powder is very fine. No clumps were noticed after a good sifting prior to preparing this tea traditionally. If prepared properly, this organic matcha is quite smooth with a creamy texture from the whisking action. A slight bitterness is present as well. I would recommend having a sweet treat by your side, such as dark chocolate, to indulge in a bite through each sips if you need. I find chocolate and matcha compliment each other nicely. Another great thing about this brand of matcha is that the price is very affordable.
Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 tea leaves
**If you or someone you know would like a tea reviewed, contact me.
 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Tea Review: BlendBee's Oolong Gone

Oolong Gone - BlendBee

"Say s'oolong to low energy, naughty cravings, slow metabolism and unwanted stress."

Ingredients: Oolong, Ashwagandha Root, Rose Buds, Hibiscus, Lemon Peel, Strawberry Leaf, Licorice Root, Sweet Orange Extract

Steep Time: 3 minutes

First Sip Thought: "Orange Creamsicle!"

Smell: The one thing I have noticed about BlendBee's tea blends is that they all are very aromatic. This particular tea blend is no exception. Jamah knows how to blend teas perfectly with herbs and spices. The sweet orange extract is the most prominent scent from this blend to me, following with the lemon peel and soft notes of rose buds. It kind of reminds me of an orange creamsicle - delicious! In addition to that sweet treat, the aroma is an instant stress buster that takes you away to a calmer place.

Taste: There's something special about a tea that arrives to your door step that has been handcrafted per order. I think it makes the whole tea experience that much more delightful knowing this packaged tea blend was actually made just for you. While the taste itself is not entirely like an orange creamsicle, there are some slight characteristics that can lead to that observation. The tea blend is quite complex. It has a hint of sweetness and a creamy finish with citrus notes. I would consider it to be a very refreshing summer treat because it seems like a really great tea to indulge in instead of sweets when craving. With all of this, I'm happy to say it doesn't mask away the oolong base. I'm really glad I am able to notice the darker oolong in this blend filled with many other wonderful ingredients for the body.

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

*BlendBee is tea company that specializes in allowing customers customize their own tea blends with their range of organic teas, herbs and spices. Learn more about the company in my recent interview with the owner, Jamah.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

What Happens When You Mix Tea with Beauty?

What we apply on our skin gets absorbed by our body which is why we must be aware of what products we are using. Just like buying organic foods and teas, beauty products filled with harmful toxins are not the best for our health. Have you ever took the time to read the extensive list of ingredients on some of the most popular beauty products out there today? It is scary to see some of the items listed when there is a more holistic approach that can provide the same affect, but safely. Tea is praised for its wonderful health benefits when you are indulging in a cup or two but there are other ways to get the most from your tea without even having to drink it.
Tea infused beauty products from 100% Pure Beauty that I love.
100% Pure Beauty is the maker of products (based in the U.S.A) that are healthy for our body and the best part, some items even include tea. The best way for me to learn and teach you more about the uses of tea in beauty products was to interview an expert, Susie Wang, the founder of 100% Pure Beauty. The mini interview covers a bit of information about the tea used and the how and why factors of the reasoning for tea. Continue reading below to learn more and also find my thoughts and experiences with a tea infused moisturizer, soap, eye liner and mascara of theirs.

Q: Hi Susie, thank you for taking time to discuss your tea infused beauty products. A great way to start off would be how and why was it decided to use tea in 100% Pure products?

A: 100% Pure has always utilized the healthy benefits of tea in our products since we first launched our brand in 2005.  Tea is such an extraordinary nutrient which is why it is used in so many 100% Pure formulas.  We use tea pigments to color many of our color cosmetics and we use tea concentrate in most of our skincare.

Q: What benefits does using tea as an ingredient add to your products?

A: Caffeine helps to restore sun damaged skin.  Caffeine also helps to increase circulation (lack of circulation causes skin dullness and dark circles under eyes).  And of course tea is high in anti-aging antioxidants which is why most of our skincare is immersed in tea. 
  
Q: What can you tell me about the tea used in your products?

A: One of our oolong teas are hand picked from the A-Li Shan mountains in Taiwan.
--
I actually have four of the many products from 100% Pure Beauty that are all infused with tea in some way.

Green Tea Oil Free Moisturizer (SPF 30)  - This moisturizer uses Camellia Sinensis (Organic Green Tea) Leaf Extract. I like that it is very light and also includes the nice addition of SPF 30. I have oily skin especially in the summer months and this moisturizer is very absorbent. The organic green tea soothes and calms the skin.

Green Tea Organic Olive Oil Soap - When I first ordered some items from 100% Pure Beauty, the package arrived and I was instantly smelling something heavenly. I later realized that the wonderful scent was coming from this soap bar that is infused with Camellia Sinensis (Organic Green Tea) Leaf Extract. It has made my skin super soft and nourished with the other great quality ingredients used in a single bar such as the certified organic cold pressed olive oil and coconut oil.

Black Tea Long Last Liquid Eye Liner - My biggest skin product worry when it comes to chemicals and such are usually the ones that are used for the eyes. I do not wear eye liner daily, but when needed, a safe and gentle eye liner is preferred especially when it is liquid liner too. Using Camellia Sinensis (Organic Micronized Black Tea) Leaf Extract, the eye liner is richly pigmented with the help from berries, vegetables and seeds instead of synthetic dyes. It is definitely long lasting, and smudge proof which is another feature to look for when shopping for a liquid liner. 

Black Tea Mascara - Same case for the black tea liquid eye liner, having chemicals in and around my eyes is a big no-no. The tea is used here for pigmentation along with fruit. Mascara is the one make up item you can find me wearing often and I really love to have a mascara that actually gives my eye lashes a healthy looking long length without any clumps. This mascara is my new favourite because it separates, thickens, and conditions my lashes, the tea is just an added bonus.

Do you have any beauty products that are infused with tea and would recommend? Let me know in the comments below!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Customize Your Tea. Your Way with BlendBee

Custom tea blends may be something you see online lately - a website devoted to selecting the exact blend of teas, herbs and spices you wish to try. The thought of creating something to have as your own, made by yourself, is ideal and definitely something unique. Like anything else, when you're customizing your own tea, you actually know what is going in it, selecting each flavour you know you already love to indulge in and more. If you have tried a tea blend in a store before and thought it was missing something or could have been better, chances are that customizing your own blend has crossed your mind once or twice in the past. 

The tea company BlendBee started simply because of a love for tea, but also because of a similar situation, finding blends that were craved was not always an easy task. I got the wonderful opportunity to discuss more about the online custom tea blend company and what goes on behind the scenes when someone submits a tea blend order. Grab a cup of tea and enjoy the interview below.
1. It's great to chat with you, Jamah. Let's begin by introducing yourself and your history with tea.

Hi! I'm Jamah, the owner and primary tea maker at BlendBee.com. I have worked in various realms of nutrition for the better part of 23 years. My parents are both chefs, and focused on organics and gardening, using only the best ingredients. They provided me with a passion for nutrition, learning about our earth and how to heal our bodies naturally. I have always had a passion for herbs and their healing qualities, which in turn sparked my love for tea. I have been creating my own custom herbal blends for years and often created them for my friends and family as well. My unique skill is creating incredibly beneficial blends, while also making them taste great. It's all in the quality of ingredients used and a good pallet.

2. What does tea mean to you?

Tea to me is like water, it is a necessary part of my daily life.  I use it for healing my body, my mind and my spirit. Herbs and tea leaves have been used for centuries to heal and treat our bodies. Tea has also been used to bring people together socially. To warm your hands on a cool night, to cool you off in the summer heat. Tea is so versatile, and absolutely delicious. People that say they don't like tea have never tried my tea.

3. What is the inspiration behind BlendBee?

I have always made tea for myself and loved ones, and decided to create a marketplace for other tea lovers. Regarding the name, I have always loved bees, they are incredible little creatures. We are in a dire situation with our bee population, and I want to bring focus on that as well. Our Save the Bees blend donates 20% of proceeds to pollinator.org. Help us "bee" the change!

4. In addition to premade blends for sale, you also offer customers the unique option to create their own to purchase. How and why did you decide to offer this feature?

Have you ever had a blend of tea that you liked, but didn't love, because maybe it was missing just one small flavor? Or maybe you couldn't find the blend that had all the herbs you were looking for? I was consistently getting asked to re-create popular tea blends, but make them a little different. I decided to create an area where you can make your own totally custom tea blend. I have over 70 different ingredients to choose from. It is great for personalized gifts, not only do they get to choose the ingredients, but they get to name their tea and add a description as well. People love this feature and I get really fun custom blends on a daily basis.

I often get asked... "What if I make a blend and it tastes gross?" Have no fear, every single custom blend is taste tested. Myself along with other Blend Bee team members will taste & make flavor notes. If the tea is deemed "undrinkable" or if we have suggestions to improve the blend, we will always contact the customer before sending it out. We stand behind every single blend that gets shipped.
5. I love that your blends are all taste tested! I think that definitely makes you stand out from other custom tea companies. I imagine there are a plethora of tasty blends that come your way. Has there been one that stood out the most to you?

Yes, this one was a bit of a collaboration. A customer was looking for a night time blend and wanted a mix of chamomile, peppermint, licorice root and lavender. She didn't know, but her initial custom blend was the base of our most popular blend Nightea Night. We took it to the next level and added some incredibly beneficial ingredients like ashwagandha root for stress relief, along with nettle and dandelion root for helping your body detox while you sleep. This blend not only works incredibly well it is awesome if you have a late night sweet tooth. Nightea Night has chamomile, lavender, ashwagandha root, nettle leaf, dandelion root, peppermint, orange peel, licorice root, stevia leaf & honey extract.

6. That does sound lovely! What does your ideal perfect tea blend consist of?

My ideal blend is bold with flavors and bursting with benefits. My absolute favorite blend is Endurance, this blend is my life saver! It starts with grade 1 organic matcha green tea powder for a plethora of benefits, then I add in organic lemongrass, ginger, hibiscus, orange peel & extract, cayenne pepper, and stevia leaf. I brew it in my french press and drink it daily, and love it hot or cold. Endurance is rich in antioxidants, helps muscle recovery, calms the mind, enhances mood & improves memory, burns calories, boosts energy, detoxes your organs, boosts immune system and supports healthy aging. This blend is not for the faint of heart though.

--
Thanks Jamah for taking some time to chat with me about your tea company! I can not wait to try some of your hand crafted tea blends. If you are interested in learning more about Jamah or her teas, check out her website BlendBee.com

Monday, July 6, 2015

Tea Review: Tattle Tea's Organic Bai Mu Dan

Organic Bai Mu Dan - Tattle Tea
"While Tattle Tea® is a new endeavor for us, we have been selling handcrafted teas since 2004 as Coffee Bean Direct. Our goal at Tattle Tea® is to de-mystify tea. Steeping the perfect cup of tea is simple and quick; anyone can do it. Our job is to simplify tea and provide you with everything necessary to enjoy your cup to the fullest. We will slowly ease you deeper and deeper into the tea world when you’re ready."
Ingredients: Organic white tea from Oothu Estate in southern India

Steep Time: 2 minutes

First Sip Thought: "Fresh peach juice."

Smell: The aroma is slightly floral and juicy. The juiciness comes from a fruit, fresh peaches is what comes to mind. This peach aroma also gives off some sweetness. The dry leaves have a strong buttery scent, but after steeped it is more earthy and floral. For a white tea, I found the colour of the liquid to be quite strong - a beautiful deep yellow. 

Taste: Bai Mu Dan white tea may also be known as Pai Mu Tan or White Peony. The tea leaves are a beautiful green and light brown. Enjoyed with no additions, this white tea was quite flavourful even with lighter tastes than the smell. Right away, the tea tastes like fruit - peach or apricots - just very, fresh picked, juicy fruits (almost mouthwatering). With no dryness, this tea is quite refreshing. I also get a lingering nutty taste, something similar to walnuts. Despite the floral aroma, the floral aspect of the tea was very subtle in the taste to me. Although not as sweet, while drinking this tea, I was immediately brought back to a memory of a delicious peach juice I drank regularly when younger. Overall, this Bai Mu Dan white tea is very smooth with no astringency that I noticed.

Want to try some of this tea for yourself? Use coupon code TEAAHOLIC for 30% off all white teas at TattleTea.com, valid 7/6-7/13.
 

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

Saturday, July 4, 2015

A Cup of Zen: Rachel Rachana Carter from iHeartTeas

I'm a live out loud wife and mother of two. I'm on a mission to find fun and unique ways to incorporate tea into everything. From cooking, cocktails, frozen treats, to handmade bath and beauty products. My passions in addition to tea include living a healthy and fit lifestyle. People also know me as the goal driven, hyper motivated girl that has now lost nearly 100lbs. I lift with tea, bike with tea, hit the treadmill with tea. I'm the "tea lady" at the gym. I'm the self proclaimed "mad scientist" of creating fresh new tea infused cocktails, bath and beauty products, loose leaf tea blends, and healthy tea infused food recipes and writer of iHeartTeas The Blog. 
Rachel enjoying a cup of tea!
When I'm not obsessing over tea. You can usually find me reading a good book, watching SciFi, engaging in social media, or watching lots of cartoons with the kids, and most definitely jamming to 80's music, enjoying crafting, and all in between changing diapers, cooking cleaning, being the family chauffeur, and blogging. I love to write. My process is more fluid and appropriate to the moment. Though tea makes it into most of my posts it isn't mentioned in all of them. I write about my life, experiences, feelings, writing is therapy and I usually there is always a cup of tea beside me to help pour my words onto page. Basically, I'm a very busy, tea loving, family orientated, fit mamma, that loves life, and is determined to live to the fullest no matter what.

Being a stay at home mom to two young children often means I don't have a lot of time for what I would classify as a "Zen" moment. However, that doesn't mean I don't try. It may be silly but my favorite tea moments are those with my family. I particularly enjoy special tea moments with my eldest child. Her name is Alexandria and she loves to have tea parties with her mother. 
Rachel's children, Alexandria & Ethan, enjoying tea time. 

When we have our tea parties they are always special. I dig out the fancy English style tea set, my cat shaped milk carafe, beautiful colorful sugars in fun shapes. Of course you can't forget the dainty spoons for stirring. Last but not least the most important selection the tea. In my home you can find nearly any type of tea of your heart desires. It is a perk for being a blender of tea and a tea blogger. Of course being so passionate about tea often means a separate tea buying budget as well. Naturally this means the selection of tea is robust. Still my daughter always picks the same one. She loves what also happens to be her fathers favorite cup of tea. Winter Frost a black tea blend of peppermint, cinnamon, and vanilla. It just happens to be one of my very first hand blended teas and to this day one of iHeartTeas best sellers. We have as much fun preparing for tea as we do drinking it. We chat, catch up on what we are most interested in these days, laugh, and there is girl talk. Often we include dessert treats, mini-sandwiches and other fun treats to enjoy. 

Every time I look back at those special tea moments I smile warmly and remind myself these days are numbered. Soon she will grow up and then our tea moments fewer though until then we will always have these fond memories. I will cherish them forever.

Where to find Rachel...


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

**A Cup of Zen is a series that began on the blog September 2014 to share tea moments from tea enthusiasts around the world. For more information and to be featured, please visit its page.
 
Template: Blog Designs by Sheila