Three Earl Grey Teas and Cream.

Lately, I have been drinking more tea. I tend to notice an affinity to drink coffee in the colder months, and teas in the hotter months. I have also been leaning towards more teas because of their wonderful health benefits. I have challenged myself to drink a cup of green tea, and black tea per day to increase my body’s immunity, fighting free radicals, and indulging in something that can stimulate me without the aftertaste of coffee. I love the variety teas offer and have been more creative in selecting unusual flavors and twists on classics.

Earl Grey Tea #1-Art of Tea’s Earl Grey and Creme.

I was at a local shop with a friend of mine, and noticed a bag of Earl Grey Creme by “Art of Tea”. As a side note, I had previously purchased their Coconut Creme black tea and found it’s tropical, nutty aroma true to life, natural and the richness of the tea a pleasant experience.  This caught my attention because I never imagined Earl Grey, it’s light, subtly floral flavor with the refreshing bergamot quality fused with rich and creamy French Vanilla. And its organic.

Perfect for first time introduction to your tastebuds, this individually packaged tea may not be enough it's so good.. I wish I bought the entire tin!

I sniffed the package, and inhaled a wonderful, strong aroma of bergamot and an underlying French Vanilla-custardy delicate note that encouraged me to buy it.  I reflected briefly and remembered my mom making this tea- Earl Grey with a splash of mil and a Vanilla flavored creamer, and wondered why she was so hooked. One taste, and I understood completely.

The first thing I noticed was the fragrance. Uplifting to the senses and emotions, I detected a strong current of bergamot, that married perfectly with the smooth vanilla flavor. Not only was this tea smooth and full in body, but the French Vanilla had toned down the citrus, but didn’t hide it too much. This was a delectable, dessert like treat that had depth. I added 2 teaspoons of white sugar, a little milk, and a Vanilla creamer (Coffee Mate’s French Vanilla). I was also able to make 2 additional cups after my first one, and although the flavor dissipated slightly, it was still strong enough to go around 2 more times. (One who for my friend) Impressive. I literally milked this tea to death-no cheesey pun intended. I paid $2 for this 1 bag, however, it was well worth it. As far as caffeine content is concerned, this tea has a medium amount, perfect to awaken the mind, but not too much.

Art of Tea Earl Grey Creme Yumfactor– 4 tongues and a tastebud. (4.5 stars out of 5) It’s rich, fragrant, citrus and sweet, perfectly balanced by that creme, and the black tea base itself is nothing but quality. True indulgence. Here is the link to their site- http://www.artoftea.com/

Earl Grey #2Bigelow’s Earl Grey Tea.

Since my first true experience with Earl Grey tea was nearly perfect, indulgent, and rich, I expected to have a similar one from here on out. I remembered my mother making Earl Grey Tea at home, and decided that all I had to do was to add French Vanilla, or regular Vanilla creamer to the tea, and I’d have a similar concoction as the prior. Boy, was I wrong. -_-

Bigelow’s tea to me is hit or miss. There are times I have had their tea and felt that the flavors weren’t strong enough. For instance, take their Vanilla Chai. Pretty packaging, however, too sweet. I have had other brands of Vanilla Chai and felt the Vanilla accented the Chai well, but still tasted the warm, earthy essences of the spiciness. The spices in chat make it chai! Now, I’m no Chai expert, however, I had the pleasure of tasting all types of chai, and even tasted Chai made from scratch by a native Indian on a regular basis in the past. I wasn’t expecting the same spice factor, but I wasn’t expecting to have a tea that was extremely sweet, either. I digress, though.

Earl Grey #2

So, upon making my Earl Grey with Vanilla creamer, milk and sugar, I noticed that the fragrance was lighter. Okay, not a big deal. I tasted it and compared to the first tea, noticed that the citrus undertones were a bit muted. The vanilla flavor was pleasant,(Coffee Mate’s Italian Sweet Cream Creamer) but the tea was overall not as strong and inviting as the other one. I realized  three things at this very moment: 1) Art of tea makes incredible teas. 2) I shouldn’t compare the two, because this tea doesn’t have the creme finish and it’s a different brand/quality. 3) According to my tastebuds, Bigelow teas are average in my opinion. Some flavors just won’t suffice for me because they are not full/strong. Then I stopped comparing, and realized that the tea itself wasn’t bad. It just won’t be one I drink on a regular basis.

Bigelow’s Earl Grey Tea Yumfactor– 3 tongues. (3 out of 5 stars) It’s not disgusting, but I was left searching for another brand. Specifically one with a stronger flavor of bergamot.

Earl Grey #3- Stash Double Bergamot Earl Grey Tea.

I was at Target (which I love!!) and saw a tea sale, and went crazy and bought 3 different teas: Mango Coconut Oolong, Double Spice Chai, and Double Bergamot Earl Grey Tea. I figured the Double Bergamot would suffice because Bigelow made me feel lie it didn’t have enough bergamot. Maybe the bergamot flavor in the Bigelow brand was a bit shy, and didn’t want to be noticed. I understand, bergamot, don’t worry *pats it on its shy back*.

First and foremost, Stash teas are often lovely, full of flavor and priced at reasonable prices with a variety that is hard to ignore. I have often found myself pleased with the variety of teas, and the flavors they offer. Now, on to the tea.

Good stuff, Stash, good stuff.

I brewed a cup, and took note of the strong presence of the bergamot. Ah ha! I figured going off of the scent alone I would have a great replacement for the other brand (I was not able to make it to the store and get another box/bag/tin because of a few reasons so I needed a replacement). I added the milk and Italian Sweet Cream creamer and was pleasantly surprised with the similarity in body, richness and fragrance this tea had compared to the first one. I bought it for about $2.15 (for a box of 20 bags, which was *much*cheaper than the A.O.T, which was  $12/6oz tin of loose leaf. There was also the individual bags, but, you get the picture.) When I added the Vanilla, it danced gracefully with the citrus overtones, and completed it effortlessly.

Stash’ Double Bergamot Earl Grey Tea Yumfactor– 4 tongues. (4 out of 5 stars) It’s inexpensive, rich, delicate and is satisfying.

*Remember, all of these tea do contain caffeine, so be aware. If I had to rate according to faves, I’d say Art of Tea ranks in 1st place for innovative taste and over all quality, but is pricey, in my opinion. Stash follows closely behind, because of quality and value, although Art of tea’s Earl Grey has a stronger dessert like creamy presence. Then last, comes Bigelow, because, apparently, the bergamot in that tea has an inferiority complex and doesn’t like much attention.

Please Rate/comment/subscribe! Thanks for reading!

Advertisements

What I’m Sippin On: Green Tea and Strawberry Smoothie (With Recipe)

Hello all! So, fun fact time: I love making and drinking smoothies. It’s a great way to get your fruits serving, calcium and even protein! It’s a great way to replace a meal, and you can even add veggies to your smoothies!!! (I think only carrots may work for this, though) I am currently drinking a green tea and strawberry (with orange juice) smoothie. I love the green tea’s light and herbal flavor, but I also appreciate its light caffeine content. I will be doing a post on why green tea is so epic of a tea, including health benefits, info on tea types (loose leaf, powder and bag). The only thing is I seldom measure when I create things, but I do want you guys to have the recipe. I do think these measurements are pretty accurate, though. It’s delicious! You’ve gotta try this recipe.

Green Tea and Strawberry Smoothie (2 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tsps.Matcha Powder (Green Tea Powder- I’m thinking you can also use 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of chilled green tea, just be sure to make sure you sweeten it prior to using it. You may need to adjust this as you go aing, because matcha powdered green tea has a different flavor than liquid green tea in drinks I find. So please, pour, mix and sip, then adjust if necessary! In order to make green tea, please follow the directions on the back of the green tea box.) I bought mine on ebay, but you can find it at Asian stores as well.
  • 1/2 cup Vanilla Yogurt
  • 1/4 cup milk (can be soy or regular)
  • 2 -4 strawberries (depends on how berry you want it to be. I used 2. Can also be frozen)
  • Vanilla flavoring (extract or syrup. I used French Vanilla Flavored Torani syrup) (Vanilla enhances whatever flavors you are using)
  • 1-3 tsps of sugar *to taste* (Can also be substituted with agave nectar, honey, or splenda)
  • 1/4 c orange juice (Really, I just poured enough in the container, and eye measured it.
  • ice cubes (I used about 5-6 whole cubes)

(I used a magic bullet blender to make this.)

1) Spoon 1/2 cup of Vanilla flavored yogurt into the container. This can be adjusted according to how much protein, yogurt content you desire. More yogurt will make the smoothie thicker in texture.

2) Add matcha green tea powder (or cold sweetened green tea) Then add 5 to 6 ice cubes. This can be altered to your personal taste level, but remember that more ice cubes equals a colder beverage, and too much ice can make the drink more slushy  in texture.

Smoothie will be more pink than green, because you are using a small amount of green tea.

3) Add 2-3 strawberries, vanilla flavoring, milk and orange juice. If you are also using a magic bullet, it should be nearly full of ingredients by now. Add desired sugar amount (I added about 2.5 teaspoons)

4) Blend until smooth. You may have to premix the smoothie to ensure the yogurt becomes well incorporated. Smoothie is finishes when it is light pink in color, and smooth in consistency. If you see green powder, or yogurt, please blend until it mixes well.

5) Garnish with a strawberry if necessary. Enjoy!! This can make 2 servings, but if you want more, you can add more milk, which shouldn’t alter the flavor of the smoothie. The consistency however, may be changed. Play with the  fruit content, as well as the yogurt content to get the balanced texture.

*Optional* For added protein content, add desired amount of protein shake mix to smoothie, or even use vanilla soy milk. I have made similar smoothies with soy milk, and it tastes wonderful! Also, you may use powdered sugar in smoothies as they contain a small amount of corn starch, which acts as a mild thickening agent! Info on matcha can be found here: http://www.google.com/search?aq=f&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=matcha

Money Saving Tips: Managing Your Latte Love

Thanks, Ben!

According to www.Feedthepig.org, many Americans spend nearly $5 each day on the fluffed up lattes, adding up to $20-$30 weekly.  Now mind you, there is nothing wrong with spending that amount of money to get your eyes to stay open for a few hours, but in actuality, spending that amount on name brand coffee is not the only option out there.  To save yourself some cash, you can follow one of these easy tips and have you coffee as well.

1) If you must drink that certain name brand coffee daily, try opting for their coffee of the day versus that $4 and change espresso with syrup, too much sugar and whatnot.  I know, I know.. you want that special Cinnamon Dolce flavor that makes your tongue sing whenever you take a sip. Well, simply ask for that syrup. Usually, coffee of the day can range from $1.50 to $2 and change, saving you bucks right there; the syrup may be an additional $.20-$.30, and also you can add as much sugar and cream as you want, having your say in how you want you coffee made.

2) Buy your own coffee and make it yourself.  That’s right! You can go to either a farmer’s market that will have worldly coffees available at wonderful prices, or you can even go to Marshall’s retail stores where you can get a pound of flavored coffee for less than the price of one of those little pretentious espresso, fluffy drinks.  I went to Marshall’s recently, and came across dozens and dozens of assorted flavored coffees from your traditional vanilla and hazelnuts to the more exotic Hawaiian coconut, chocolate raspberry, butter pecan, butterscotch and creme brulee flavors.

Assorted Coffee Syrups. Pictured are Davinci and Monin brands. Also, Torani is also a popular brand.

 The prices ranged anywhere from $2.99 to $4.99, which is slightly the price of one cup you’d spend elsewhere. Simply add sugar, milk/cream and you’ve got flavor, coffee and savings! Boo yaw! Also, if you like Folger’s and Maxwell House brands, they offer coupons for additional money-saving in you weekly paper.

*If you like for example, Starbuck’s coffee syrup flavors, they are often times available for purchase at Target stores (Usually $6.99, but on the website it’s $10.99!). Other coffee syrups can be purchased at www.baristaproshop.com.

3) Why stick with coffee when it’s just the caffeine you need? Try teas that have caffeine (like green teas, white teas, red teas and black teas).  Studies show that these teas are full of anti oxidants which contribute to healthy aging, memory strength, higher metabolism and cancer prevention to name a few benefits. Teas are a healthy way to get caffeine without the jitters or guilt of high calories. While some flavors are an acquired taste, they do not have as much caffeine as espresso drinks, nor do they have the calories. Often, some teas are prices at $2.00-$3.25 depending on the brand, with 20-30 bags. Also, green teas are offered in new and exciting variety like Green Tea and Orange, Green Tea and Pomegranate, ect.

4) Try 5 hour energy drink.  One of these little bottles contain vitamin b and niacin with a little caffeine to keep you going for 5 hours and cost less than the $4 coffees you’d get elsewhere with a longer “keep you up and active” factor coffee does not have.  Yes, I said it.  While coffee is great, it usually stops working after say 3 hours, later accompanied by the ever so fun “crash”. My experience with this drink was total refreshment, as if waking up after a power nap. Mind you, I drank about 3/4 of the container, scared at first and expecting my tongue to fall off, but the beverage was not too sweet, had a refreshing berry taste.  It did not make me feel the jitteriness I have felt when partaking in the ritual of drinking some espresso drinks. Also,  for me, there was no crash afterwards. ( I will be doing a review on this drink in the near future, so stay tuned).

5) If none of those tips work, simply purchase coffee from your local convenience stores.  I frequent Quik Trip, where they have fabulous coffee flavors and good coffee, for roughly $1.17 for a 16oz size.  This again is cheaper than buying an espresso drink for $4. Their coffee does the trick and you are given more options without paying extra for adding syrup.  also, they get festive and creative around the holidays, offering Pumpkin Spice flavored coffee and Chocolate Cinnamon. (My fave currently, is the Vanilla Cupcake Cappuccino.)

So there it is guys and gals- options to save you money each day that are not hard to try an meet your needs. Cha-ching!