Category Archives: Tea

Continuing Adventures in Tea

Sometime in May, I started thinking that drinking tea at home would be so much easier if I had an electric tea kettle. At work we have hot water spigots both on the coffee machine and the water cooler, so making a hot drink is quick and easy whenever you’d like. But at home I find that if I have to wait five to ten minutes just for the water to heat up, let alone the added time for the tea to steep, I’m probably going to just grab a can of pop instead.

Because I’m at least trying to do a few small things that are healthier, I began investigating my options in electric kettles. It turns out that there are models out there where you can choose different heat settings, perfect for steeping different types of tea at the various temperatures they’re best at. I ended up choosing the Upton Tea Imports Variable Temperature Electric Kettle, which my parents agreed to order for my birthday. However, my mom only got around to ordering it a few days beforehand, and my birthday fell on a Saturday to boot, so I figured I wouldn’t be seeing it for a while. To my surprise, it had shown up in time after all, taking at most four days. I made a cup of Scarlet Cloud white tea to enjoy in the sunroom that morning, and it really did taste better steeped at a lower temperature.

I was so impressed by the shipping speed from Upton Tea Imports, that I decided to put in a small order that following Monday to see how their tea is. I ended up selecting Season’s Pick Earl Grey Crème Vanilla, Assam Zaloni Estate TGFOP, and a few handy clips that make using loose leaf filter bags so much easier. The first pleasant surprise was that all of this arrived in a mere two days for the same $4 standard shipping cost, even though the total order was only about $17. The second very pleasant surprise was just how much tea I received. I hadn’t considered at all how much tea 125 or 250 grams was going to be (if you’re supposed to learn conversions at some point in school, this is probably the greatest failing of my education). I’m used to buying by the ounce at Teavana, and figured that if the prices were comparable, $4.20 for 125 grams of the Assam would probably be about two ounces, and $5.40 for 250 grams of the Earl Grey would be about four ounces (though this one in particular would still be a really good price compared to Teavana). It turns out that 125 grams is nearly 4.5 ounces. This tea is seriously going to last me a while.

And I liked how they tasted so much and found the prices so agreeable that I put in another order on Thursday (I swear, this will be it for a while), and am hoping it will arrive today or tomorrow. It will contain Mélange de Chamonix, New England Harvest Blend, Summer Blend, Scottish Breakfast Blend, a strainer (I’m experimenting with making iced tea from some of my loose leaf teas with the Bodum Ceylon Ice Tea Jug, but having trouble with some tea bits creeping their way into the tea, which I’m not finding appetizing), and an Upton Team Imports mug. Because I need another mug, right?

The Return to Teavana

Since visiting Teavana for the first time on December 1, I’ve been doing a little more reading about tea, the different varieties, and each variety’s benefits. The first time I selected a couple of teas I really love (the Monkey Picked Oolong and Rooibos Chai), but I’ve been thinking I’d like a little more variety. And now that I’ve been enjoying this high-quality tea, I’ve had a hard time drinking some of the other teas I’ve purchased, even what should have been pretty good, such as a Stash Spiced Chai that sounded fabulous when I bought it, but I hated it when I drank it. So I decided I needed a little more of the good stuff from Teavana.

Also, I’ve been having a hard time keeping the Rooibos Chai in the loose leaf tea bags I picked up last time, and some of it’s too fine to work well in any tea ball I own, so the first thing I picked up at Teavana was a couple of Perfect Tea Makers, one for home and one for work. I also saw the Tea Tumbler/Thermos, and realized it would be great for taking some tea for my commutes.

I did get a couple more fabric-covered tins (they’re so pretty!), but I was planning to mostly get the small 3-oz. tins. However, they don’t have those in the store anymore, so I ended up with some medium 6-oz. tins. But that’s probably okay; in the future I can use those for the teas I really, really love.

But on to the tea. My goal was to buy one each of a green tea, a white tea, and a black tea. I ended up with those and a couple of herbals, one because it’s just good, and the other mostly to mix with other teas. Here’s the list:

I’ve only tried the Mate Vana and Strawberry Slender so far, but they were both really, really tasty. I’m looking forward to my further tea adventures.

Heck of a Crazy Weekend

I must say, this past weekend started off on a great note. Getting together with a few of my closest girlfriends, and just the girlfriends (i.e., no husbands or kids, though I certainly like all of them too), was a too-rare treat. I hope it’s not so long until we can do it again.

Saturday, against my better judgment, I braved the snow storm to drive out to Stitchville USA. I needed to pick up a few items for an Advent exchange with my online cross stitch group, and it’s been so busy on weekends lately that I had already missed the deadline for getting it in the mail. My plan was to get out of the door by 9:30 AM, get to the store sometime between 10 and 10:15, be there no more than an hour, make a quick stop at the Jo-Ann right by the Shoppes at Arbor Lakes in Maple Grove, check out the Teavana in Arbor Lakes, and be home by 1:30 or so. I got it all done, plus a quick stop at Trader Joe’s on the walk to Teavana to see if it’s something I want to check out further on another day (the answer is yes), and was home by 3:15, though not completely without incident.

My new Honda Fit handles even better than I expected in the snow (the freeways I took most of the distance were more or less okay, but the shopping areas were certainly not so much), but it would appear I’m going to have to check into getting better windshield wipers. It never occurred to me that the ones I got with this car would be of lesser quality than the ones that came standard on my Cavalier. Unless I was driving at higher speeds on the freeway, I had a devil of a time getting and keeping my windshield clear, which makes for some interesting driving. We’re supposed to be getting more snow tomorrow, and I can’t say I’m looking forward to driving home from work if it’s snowing then.

The highlight of Saturday was definitely checking out Teavana. My grandma’s a big tea drinker, so I’ve always been intrigued by tea, though I generally tend to prefer coffee. I’ve purchased random tea over the years out of curiosity, but only drink it now and then. Since starting the Tea Shop Mysteries by Laura Childs, I’ve become more interested in everything about tea, from what all the different varieties are to what attributes different teas might have. It’s hard to describe the experience, but if you’re interested, check out the website or, if there’s one close enough, visit one of their stores (here in Minnesota, there’s also one in the Mall of America). I ended up buying some Mrs. Earl Grey for my grandma for Christmas, plus some loose tea filters and a measuring spoon. I bought a fabric-covered tin that not only holds 3 ounces of the tea, but is refillable just by taking it to a Teavana store (the fabric-covered one was about $10, but a regular small tin that’s also refillable is only about $3). I got myself two of the fabric-covered tins, one with Monkey-Picked Oolong, the other with Rooibos Chai. I’ve had a couple of cups of both, and they were delicious. I can’t wait to acquire more! (Hint: I’d love the Teavana Gift Set — or pretty much anything else from there — for Christmas.)

Saturday evening was quiet, just sitting around reading and watching a movie with my parents. It might not be a cinematic wonder, but Night at the Museum is rather fun. I was up pretty late reading, planning to sleep in a bit on Sunday.

At some point, probably a little after 9 AM, I hear my dad yelling about something, but this is nothing new and I fall back to sleep. I’m awoken a few minutes later by my mom explaining that she needs me to get up to help dad get up as he has fallen and can’t get up on his own. That doesn’t sound good: even with the prosthetic left leg, he’s pretty good at getting himself up. I’m not sure I’m really comprehending things, but I get up, put on a robe, and head downstairs. Sure enough, Dad is sort of sprawled on the dining room floor, and it doesn’t look good. He had been outside doing the shoveling between the house and garage, just like he did all winter, but slipped as he went inside the house onto the linoleum. Dad’s saying how his hip hurts…er, a lot (I’ll spare you the actual words)…and I’m thinking that this is something we need trained EMS responders to take care of, and he needs to get to a hospital. Mom agrees and calls 911 while I keep an eye on Dad. A police officer and paramedics arrive in fairly short order, take stock of the situation, and get Dad off to Regions. Sure enough, right hip fracture, for which he had surgery last evening. It’s going to be a while before he’s home again, I suspect, with the rehab and all. Hopefully everything will go as well as it did when he had left leg amputated two and a half years ago.

Just goes to show: you think the most exciting thing that has happened to you in a weekend is narrowly missing a car that spins out ahead of you on an exit ramp, and then your dad goes and breaks his hip.