Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The lemurs love vanilla

My mother came from a French Canadian catholic family, which means my family has a slightly different Christmas tradition than others. When the clock strikes 12, instead of seeing Jacob Marley, our family opens stockings and presents. And if there is one thing I really love about the 25th of December, is that I typically get a strange and wonderful black tea in my stocking.

Last year my brother gifted me with the maple tea, and another herbal tisane. This year, I got a lovely tea called Trader Joe's Vanilla & Cinnamon Black Tea.

As you probably assume, he got it from Trader Joe's, and I must say I have never seen the like before. The box has a Lemur drinking a cup of tea wrapped in Christmas lights. While lemurs are not at all a Christmas icon, the Christmas lights are, telling us that this is a limited holiday item. So if you would like a box of Trader Joe's Vanilla & Cinnamon Black Tea, you should head out now to the USA and pick some up before they are gone. And you really should, as you would probably like a box of this tea.

The ingredients are black tea, natural vanilla, natural flavours and cinnamon. At first I was worried that it would taste like a cinnamon death valentines heart candy (okay as a candy, but not as a tea of course.) But when I opened the box, the vanilla was the main star and a the smell of cinnamon was light and subtle. I could also tell, upon opening the box, that this would be a wonderful dessert tea.

My first cup of this tea was gone pretty quickly, on the account of how good it was. Again, it was the vanilla that was the star, making it smooth and creamy. The cinnamon, from what I tasted and that wasn't very much, was enough to make it seem like I was partaking in a sinful feast. Like the little bit of cinnamon sprinkled upon a latte or mocha to give it the extra kick into heaven, the cinnamon is a sidekick and not the hero. The vanilla flavouring, well, that's the Superman of this tea's Metropolis. The tea rivals a Earl Grey Cream, which means nothing to you if you haven't had that tea. But if you have, you know how smooth and creamy that tea is too.

If you want something delectable, and something akin to a vanilla cake or dessert, this tea is just what you need. It it is perfect around this time of year, when everyone is baking and being well fed by cookie platters and cakes. While not full of icing and maraschino cherries, this tea would be a good switch from a typical dessert – and you wouldn't feel like you were missing out on a treat. Unless you were like me, using cream and sugar, then this tea would be a much healthier substitute too. Now while this is a good after dinner tea, you might not want to drink this tea really late at night. Black tea is the first ingredient, and where there is black tea there is caffeine!

I don't see why they couldn't offer this tea all year round, and it is a shame that it will be disappear from shelves pretty quickly if not already. I personally could drink this tea all year round, and maybe eat a little less dessert because of it. Or perhaps eat more, since this would be a great pairing to any dessert (oh I am terrible!)

And with that, I'll leave you with the cute inscription that graces the side of the box:
“You've never seen a lemur drinking a cup of tea? Trust us; it happens all the time. But only if that tea is Trader Joe's Vanilla & Cinnamon Black Tea. You see, the vanilla in this tea makes our island friends – the lemurs & their chameleon chums – thirsty. The blend of vanilla, cinnamon & black tea will satisfy your thirst and put you in a festive mood. The lemur says so.”

Tea available at: Trader Joe's but only for a limited time!

For all who are keeping watch for this tea, it is in stores now for the 2011 Holiday season!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Eggnogg'n it

I love this time of year, and all that it entails.
The lights are pretty, yes yes.
The tree is magical, of course of course.
The burning yule log on TV is a must watch, certainly certainly.
Food wise, well it is absolutely delicious. Come on ladies, what's the one time of the year where it is nearly impossible to say no to baking? Especially when your friend bakes you a Christmas cookie care package present. You aren't going to say no, you are going to bring them back home and eat them all in one sitting. Probably while watching the yule log and waiting for the big beefy lumberjack hand to put more wood on the fire.
The cookies, cakes, custards, and the Chinese oranges that are actually good for you unless you eat multiples in one sitting. How about the turkey dinners that are on the corporate dinner horizon? But the best beverage for the holidays? Eggnog.

Oh yeah.

I know some of you out there are making faces your mother would scold you for. Some might be making the face due to the fact that traditional eggnog is made with raw eggs. But did you know the commercial type eggnog you find at Safeway doesn't have raw eggs? So stop making that ridiculous face, and go drink some nog. Or better yet, go put some eggnog in your tea!

Goodness, don't look surprised! This isn't a new idea, Starbucks has had this idea for sometime, using it to make eggnog latte's. You also might remember seeing the additive of eggnog in my Holiday overload concoction.
For those of you that aren't surprised, you are my fellow noggian drinkers. Cheers! By the way, you have a nog mustache you really should wipe off.

So while it is not only is it a delicious cold and thick drink, it is also a great additive to tea. In terms of consistency, a light eggnog will lighten the tea like milk and a normal (and thick) eggnog will lighten the tea like a cream. So flavour accordingly to your tastes!

But, of course, I won't stop there. I found this little gem in the grocery store before December rolled around. I also picked it up then because I figured it wouldn't be in stock later (and I was right.)
Eggnog tea by Bigelows!

This is a relatively unknown brand to me, and I am always hesitant about teas with 'charming' box designs. They can't be all that good of a quality, right? Well, don't go judging a book by its cover. Or a tea by it's box design. I did some research on Bigelows, and I haven't seen it around because it is only America. Phooey. The company looks quaint, and I am interested in the fact that they strive to make a more zestfully flavored tea.
I do like the fact that they seal each tea packet, so it remains fresh.

Now I  guessed it would be either tasty, or terrible. It wasn't terrible. But I think it was because Iwas cheating-- I added eggnog to the eggnog tea. So I really couldn't tell if it was -and I am going to make up a word here- eggnoggy. It was darn good though.

I took a pack home, and had it a few days later without the extra eggnog.
There was certainly a difference.
While it smelled like potent eggnog, it tasted only mildly like eggnog. That is, it had the creamy taste, and only a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg (that's what is in eggnog you know).

So, here is my thoughts on the whole eggnog in tea matter. If you made a face at the thought of putting eggnog in your tea, then don't put eggnog in your tea. Just -buy- Bigelow's Eggnogg'n Tea.
If you like eggnog, then put lots of eggnog in your tea. If you love eggnog, buy the eggnog tea, and add eggnog to it like a alcoholic putting vodka in their morning cup of orange juice. Mmm.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Maple Tea

The temperature has dipped to a new local record for cold, at least on this particular day. So cold, in fact, the snow hasn't left us though it has been a few days since the last snow fall. The wind is biting, and the condensation is freezing inside on my windows. This is unusual weather for the west coast, but it is not so unusual for the french speaking province of which my relatives live. The weather is actually bring back warm memories of when I was a little girl and went on a cold winter trip to Montreal with my mother.

The snow there is not the same as west coast snow, wet, heavy and compacting. You can make good snowmen out here. Instead, it was wispy, dry, and flew from your hands like sand if you scooped some up. Not a good plan if the wind was blowing towards your unprotected face. I remember walking through a blizzard to get to the grocery store across my Grandmother's apartment, and I certainly and distinctly remember the visit to the Maple Syrup Farm.

We went on a cold windy day, much like the weather we are having here. We rode in a carriage pulled by a horse through a grove of maple trees. We puffed into our hands, while we toured the replicas of historic maple tree farming. And at the end, we ate bowl after bowl of pea soup in a large common room on large tables and benches. We ate next to strangers, and people I couldn't understand.

Good memories both chilly and warm. And though I wish I could re-visit that Montreal maple tree farm, I will cozy up with my memories instead. And the best way to remember that maple tree farm, is to drink a very special black tea called Maple Tea. I drank this many times during the Vancouver Olympics to show and enjoy my Canadian heritage.

The tea has a nice black tea base and is flavoured with, surprise surprise, maple syrup. The actual maple syrup flavouring, to be honest, is a little disappointing. It is not nearly strong enough, though the potential is there. While I find it a little too weak, I am certainly glad it isn't too strong. Too sugary and it wouldn't be a treat at all. So, while the tea has potential, it isn't grand. In fact, I would recommend simply adding some maple syrup instead of sugar to your plain black tea instead of purchasing a Maple Tea.
And that's REAL maple syrup, not the sugar table syrup stuff.

Seriously though, try a little maple syrup in your tea next time. It makes a normal tea into a special one. And it makes you feel really Canadian.