Tea Review: Bingley’s Teddy Bear Tisane

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First impressions: I was so super excited to try this tea.  I love gummy bears and all gummy candies, so being able to try a tea that tastes just like gummy bears made me feel like a kid again!  I just got the sample pack of the Teddy Bear Tisane from Bingley’s Teas, so right off the bat I used 3/4 of the package in making an entire pot for myself (it was one of those days).  I made it in my lovely Tardis teapot, as you can see above.

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Positives: This tea tastes exactly like red gummy bears!  It is just sweet enough to be delightful, but still a bit tart.  The berries and lemongrass are in a battle for the top note of this tea, but they work in harmony.  This is perfect for the younger tea drinkers in your family.

Negatives: The flavor can be very overpowering if you oversteep.  Because it is an herbal tea, it doesn’t go bitter, but it does get extremely flavorful, so be prepared to cut it with water if you accidentally oversteep.  On the other hand, don’t under steep, either.  My first cup was under steeped and it was not as flavorful as I would have liked.  The lemongrass can also, at times, be a bit overpowering.

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Overall: 4 cups out of 5.  This is a very good berry tisane!

Tea Review: Bingley’s Teas Emma’s Perfect Match

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First impressions:  Bingley’s Teas never disappoint, so I jumped at the opportunity to try Emma’s Perfect Match when at my friend’s house.  I’m not typically a fan of green tea, simply because I prefer a robust cup of black tea.  I usually find the flavor of green teas to be too weak for my liking, and I therefore stay away from them.  However, I had nothing to lose when I was at my friend’s house, so I decided to try this tea!  This tea is a China green tea with roses and strawberries.

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Positives: The tea is excellent!  It has a rosy top note with underlying strawberry.  This is the perfect Valentine’s day tea.  It’s very light (as one would expect a green tea to be) and the strawberry flavor is not at all overpowering.  In fact, one would only be able to taste it if her or she was looking for it.  I sweetened it with a little bit of sugar and it was perfection.  Plus, the leaves are beautiful (this is just an aesthetic thing, as leaves obviously don’t have to look good to taste good.)  Just look at them!

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Cons: I think I didn’t put enough leaves into the pot, because the flavor came out a little too weak.  Also, I probably could have steeped it longer, but I didn’t want to scorch the leaves.  User error all the way, there is nothing wrong with the tea!

Overall: 4 cups out of 5.  It was a lovely tea!

The Best Tea Company Ever: Bingley’s Teas

Whenever a person asks me what my favorite teas are I pause.  The answer is difficult.  There are so many great teas that I’ve been able to try.  There are my regular teas that I drink all the time.  Then, there are the teas that I don’t indulge in much but enjoy greatly when I do.  Then, there are teas that I simply tolerate.  However, my answer to my favorite teas is always Bingley’s.

I came into contact with Bingley’s early in 2012 through their website.  I heard that they had a Jane Austen themed tea series, and being a Regency era reenactor and lover of all things Jane, I simply had to try it out.  My friends told me that they would be at the Jane Austen Festival in Louisville in July, so I held off purchasing anything until then.  And trust me, it took a lot of self control to do so!  My friends had samples of Bingley’s Teas at past JA fests, and they said that the tea was phenomenal.  I couldn’t wait to try it myself.

The time of the Jane Austen Festival finally came, and I walked away with a chest of 4 different Pride and Prejudice teas (probably my best purchase to date).

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The teas are, from left to right, Compassion for Mrs. Bennet’s Nerves (a chamomile, mint, rose hips, lavender, and passion flower tisane), Miss Elizabeth (a cranberry black tea with blue mallow), Mr. Darcy (a Da Hong Pao Oolong), and the Longbourn Wedding Tea (a champagne silver needle white tea with rose buds and raspberry).  All of them are absolutely amazing, and I’ll be reviewing them very soon here!  So, of course, I wasn’t satisfied with just one chest of Bingley’s tea, so I had to get more.  I just got this shipment in and I am super excited to try them!

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From left to right, Sweet Jane (vanilla ceylon and jasmine tea) and Bingley’s (a signature blend of classic afternoon tea).  And can I say, the packaging is absolutely wonderful!  I took these pictures as I opened the box, right after picking it up from the post office.  Adorable!

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From left to right, Wicked Wickham (a pomegranate Pai Mu Tan white tea) and Miss Lucy Steele (an apricot and vanilla black tea).

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I also ordered a sample pack of the Teddy Bear Tisane (dried apples, berries, lemongrass, and gummy bears) and Julia from Bingley’s Teas threw in two free samples for me!  One is Mrs. Jenning’s Delight, a green tea that has not yet been debuted on the website, and Peppermint Party, a pure peppermint tisane (she knows me so well!)

Each one of the Jane Austen teas is packaged in a lovely book box.  Here’s a look inside of one of them:

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The tagline of the Jane Austen Tea Series is “Jane Austen was a loose woman, too!” (meaning loose tea, of course).  Clever, right?  Anyway, I’m going to be reviewing all of the teas that you see here one by one, so stay tuned.  And, if you’re looking to purchase more tea, definitely, definitely check Bingley’s teas out.  They’re a nice, small company run by an awesome woman that makes amazing teas.  And, if you’re wondering, Miss Elizabeth and Longbourn Wedding are tied for my favorites 🙂 Happy sipping!

In Defense of Small Business

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When you ask a person where they could get a specialty crafted espresso beverage, his or her first answer will likely be, “Starbucks”.  Starbucks has its place in the coffee industry–it is quick, convenient, and they are numerous throughout the United States.  However, if I want to sit down and enjoy a really good latte in a comfortable environment, Starbucks is the last place that I think of.  Starbucks is trendy, but that sets it apart from smaller businesses.  Since it is a chain, every store has to be the same and therefore there’s nothing new or exciting about going to Starbucks.  That doesn’t mean, though, that getting a cup of coffee can’t be new or exciting.  We just have to look away from Starbucks…

When I was a kid, there was a coffee shop about fifteen minutes away from my house called the Front Porch.  It was the best place ever.  The atmosphere was very cozy.  It had once been a house, I think, so the rooms were smaller than a normal coffee shop.  The main room where the bar was also contained a few odd bits of furniture, plus some of the most comfortable couches ever.  There was also a back room with more tables and a big bookshelf full of books and board games that were free to use.  The best thing about this shop was the people.  Sure, the service wasn’t speedy quick all the time, but Front Porch was where I felt at home.  A bunch of my sister’s friends worked there, too, so there was always good conversation to be had.  We loved Front Porch so much that my sister even had her wedding shower there.  Unfortunately, The Front Porch closed its doors in 2010.  No coffee shop will ever replace FroPo in my heart, and if I’m lucky, one day I or someone else might resurrect it.

After FroPo closed, I started frequenting a java and gelato shop called Aroma’s, pictured above.  Aroma’s has a nice, homey atmosphere, too, with really awesome gelato and gourmet cupcakes.  However, nothing quite felt like FroPo to me.  Around this time was when I really started drinking coffee (caramel lattes with half the espresso, yeah, I thought I was cool!)  These years were really formative in my coffee experience but I was a wanderer.

This past fall, I started school at Xavier University.  On campus, we have two locations of a local business called Coffee Emporium.  I go to Coffee Emporium at least five or six times a week, because the atmosphere is so awesome–students are the baristas and they’re always playing fun music, making conversation and creating awesome drinks.  I put in an application as soon as I started at Xavier, because I honestly wanted to be a barista since I was a kid.  I got a call from the manager to come in for an interview, and I ended up getting the job!  Now, I’m training as a barista with some of the coolest people I’ve ever met, and I wouldn’t trade a second of it.

Now, why does this all matter, anyway?  I’d like to think that everyone, after reading this, would trash their Starbucks gift cards and go to their nearest independent coffee shop, but that’s probably not going to happen.  My main point is that, while you can get a cookie-cutter latte from Starbucks, the experience is worth so much more to go somewhere local.  Plus, a lot of small coffee shops are very ethical, compared to big corporations like Starbucks.  Coffee Emporium, for example, purchases all of its beans from the farmers so that they can give the farmers the best possible prices for their beans.  These smaller shops are a testament to the fact that you can succeed in business and not have to short anyone the money that they deserve–Coffee Emporium has been going strong for more than 30 years and they have six locations in the city of Cincinnati, plus they treat all of their employees ethically, have awesome atmospheres in their shops, and create amazing drinks.  So, next time you’re craving a bit of espresso, please patronize small businesses.  You won’t know until you try!

 

Tea Review: Lipton Harvest Strawberry and Passion Fruit

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First Impressions:  I had no preconceived notions of this tea except for the fact that I had heard that the Blueberry and Pomegranate variety of this tea was good.  I’ve been a big fan of strawberries since I was a kid (I used to dip them in sugar!) so I decided to try this and the Blueberry and Pomegranate.  I also don’t have a high opinion of the regular varieties of Lipton tea, but I thought that their “premium” selections would be better.  Honestly, I had given up on this tea and given it to my roommate, who then told me that she tried it and wasn’t thrilled with it.  I decided to give it a go before I went to bed one evening.

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Positives: The tea does come in silk pyramid tea bags, which is quite nice.  However, that’s the only good thing I can think of.

Negatives: This tea left a lot to be desired.  The flavor was weak and very artificial.  While I usually sip teas slowly in order to enjoy them, I drank this tea very, very quickly.  I wish I would have spent my money on a different kind of tea that I would have actually enjoyed.  My roommate and I are going to attempt to use it as iced tea, and if that doesn’t work, we are going to attempt mixing it with lemonade to make a strawberry lemonade tea.  If it doesn’t work after that, this will likely be passed on to one of my friends that can appreciate more than I can.

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Overall: 1.5 cups out of 5.  I do not recommend this tea.

Double Review: Harney & Sons Peppermint Herbal Tea and The Fault in our Stars by John Green

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Hello everyone!  This is officially my first book review and my first tea review on this blog! I’ll be reviewing the Harney & Sons Peppermint Herbal Tea and The Fault in our Stars by John Green, two things that I am very happy for purchasing.  So, here we go!

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Harney & Sons Peppermint Herbal Tea

First Impressions:  Honestly, I only got this tea because I needed a straight up mint tea because I was all out, Target didn’t have my usual brand (Twinings), and this tea had cool packaging.  It comes in a handy dandy tin that I know I can use for other things in the future (most likely carrying tea bags for vacations and such).  I didn’t expect the tea to be anything special.  When I read “sachets” I thought that I’d just be getting flat paper tea bags.

Positives: Four words: SILK PYRAMID TEA BAGS.  Look at these sexy things:

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That was the #1 best surprise I’ve had in my tea experience.  In case you didn’t already know, silk pyramid tea bags are basically the closest you can get to loose-leaf tea in pre-bagged form.  It’s also a sign that high-quality tea lies within.  Since I am a college student and bagged teas are the most convenient, I will and have bought from this company again.  Any tea company that exceeds my expectations is worth a second shot to me!  The tea itself was an excellent pure peppermint tea.  I sweetened my large mug with one pack of Splenda per personal preference, but it is anything but bitter and could easily go without.

Negatives: The tea does pack a pretty hefty $6 price tag for 20 sachets, but because of the convenience and the quality, I will buy it again.

Overall: 4 cups out of 5.  This tea is exactly what it ought to be and more!

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The Fault in our Stars by John Green

First Impressions:  We all know that Tumblr is all about John Green, so I figured that I ought to check him out.  As a Christmas present to myself, I bought the box set of his works, plus the book that he co-authored with David Leviathan, Will Grayson, Will Grayson.  I chose to read TFIOS first since it was JG’s most recently published novel and since I’d heard great feedback about it.  I dove headfirst into it as soon as I received it.

Positives: THIS IS AN AMAZING NOVEL.  Now, granted, I picked it up without knowing that it was about teenagers, so that is something that might stray away a few readers, but it was in no way a cliche high school romance.  JG does a great job of building up the pathos the reader has for each character and causing all of it to spill out of your eyes via tears with the twist of a few little words.  Also, there are a lot of amazing quotes in the novel.  While I did cry for an hour straight while reading this book, there are also some remarkable funny parts where I audibly laughed.  It is a very realistic mix of emotions; more realistic than any other teenage novel that I’ve read.

Negatives: I honestly can’t think of any except maybe that it was too short!  This novel was truly amazing and I enjoyed every word of it.

Overall: 4.9 cups out of 5.  It was an excellent, excellent novel.

Thank you for checking out my blog!  I hope you will stick around and travel with me through books, coffee, and tea!