Afternoon Tea: English Breakfast from Art of Tea

This my darlings is the last tea from the Sampler pack of teas from The Art of Tea that I will be trying.  Some of you may be doing some quick math in your heads and realizing that this is only the sixth tea I have tried from this selection of eight.

Look at you go with your memory and math.

The reason I won’t be trying the last two remaining teas is bergamot.  

Bergamot and I are not good friends. 

While there are occasional perfumes that incorporate it that I can tolerate, I can not drink it.  First of all it smells like perfume.  Which in my book is reason enough not to consume it.  Second, I have a slight allergy to it so my body doesn’t like it any more than my palette. Both my babydoll and my mother love it so the tea will not go to waste, I simply won’t be the one enjoying it.  

The English Breakfast tea of today is black tea.  That’s it.  That is the entire ingredient’s list.  One of the other remaining teas is black tea with bergamot oil and the other is black tea, bergamot oil and one other thing.  So This English Breakfast tea is similar, it just doesn’t contain any of the things I don’t like.  

I do really like black tea.  One set of my grandparents had it for breakfast every day and throughout the day while the other side consumed buckets of coffee.  Both scents are comforting to me and I enjoy the taste.  Herbal teas were used when there was some sort of ailment.  Peppermint teas settled a stomach ache while other tea blends were used for colds, fevers, headaches and other things.  There was always the collection of jars of dried herbs in the pantry for just such occasions and my family tended to reach for them before any store bought remedies.  

While I no longer just associate the scent of herbal tea with illness and ailments, I still find the scent of a good black tea comforting.  And this is a good black tea.  It is kind of interesting to describe actually.  Black tea smells like black tea.  It is one of those things that other things get compared to, like coffee or the taste of chicken.  It is a standard familiar taste and smell.  It is simply black tea.  It is breakfast with my grandparents and the scent of it makes me long for a soft boiled egg with toast soldiers.  

This tea brewed up black and strong and made a 12 ounce cup of tea.  I found it delightful and somehow more fresh than many of the black teas that I can get where I live. The last time I bought black tea from the grocery store it tasted old.  I don’t think it gets a lot of turn over throughout the year.  So for me, this is a good alternative and something that I will be ordering in the future.  Because having the means for a simply good cup of tea on hand is always a good idea.  Even if I still want the soft boiled egg to go with it.

For those looking to stock up on this or any other of the fabulous teas they offer The Art of Tea has a 25% off sale going on with the code BFCM2022.

Holiday Shopping Guide: Indoor Herb Gardens

I’m sure if you have read my posts for any length of time you will have realized that I love to garden. And while I simply do love to garden, I also find that it helps me with my weight loss. I know the activity part is helpful, but once the summer fades and the garden is munched over for the winter, the physical activity is minimal.

Where gardening mostly helps me, is in the kitchen. If you have ever watched a lot of cooking shows then you have probably heard the phrase fat is flavor. Sadly this is true, however you know what else has flavor? Herbs and spices.

For me fresh herbs especially make something potentially very bland feel somewhat decadent, especially in the cold winter months. Think about rice, Plain old boiled white rice. On it’s own not so flavor packed. It is a blank canvas, usually to spoon something dripping with sauce on to. However, a little bit of chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lemon mixed in and it becomes a little less boring.

When you are trying to loose weight food can feel dull and flavorless. Everything it seems is taken out in the name of calorie reduction. Fat is removed, salt is removed, sugar is banned and sauces are kept to a minimum. For me fresh herbs are just a fantastic way to bring back some of that flavor. And in the winter I rely on indoor gardening. The herb bundles of fresh herbs you can get in our grocery over the winter are usually very pricy for what you get and the herbs are not always the best quality. They look like they sat in their little plastic boxes for far too long. which they probably have.

So I like to keep a few potted plants around to not only cut costs but because having plants around makes me happy. In addition if they are there I feel obligated to use them which in turn makes my dishes taste better without adding a lot of calories. The calories you add from fresh herbs is minimal. It is surprising how much fresh basil you can get on the plate for only three calories.

If you are looking to start an indoor garden this winter, or have a gardener on your gift buying list, Botanical Interest is a place you might want to check out. You can order their seed catalogs for free from the site, or just order directly from the site. They have all sorts of articles and tips if you are starting your own indoor garden. I found this one particularly interesting.

And for easy shopping they now have gift bundles available. They have the chef’s herb garden for a general array of the more classics cooking herbs. There is a bundle for those who want to grow vegetables in containers. There is even a bundle for those simply obsessed with chilie peppers.

these bundles are well thought out collections and a great way to start your own indoor garden, help someone else on their way to gardening or surprise your gardener in the family with something unexpected in their Christmas stocking. I really like these bundles and actually ordered the Butterfly Banquet Bundle for my mother this year. She has this one space in her yard that the plants included in the bundle will fill out nicely and with luck attract butterflies in the spring. which I know will make her happy to see well after the holiday decorations are put away and hopefully for several years to come. And that Makes Botanical Interests a great place to visit when filling out your holiday gift list.

Herbs: DIY Indoor Garden

Afternoon Tea: Matcha from The Art of Tea

When I was little we had a family friend who made Matcha flavored gelato. At the time Matcha wasn’t something that was very common or well known. It wasn’t something you could get at Starbucks. Of course since this was the early 1980s Starbucks was still something you could only get in Seattle (I think their first location outside Seattle was in 1987).

For me this was an eye opening experience. While I liked the occasional sweet as much as any other kid, there were a lot of things that i always found too sweet for my taste. This Matcha Gelato was delicately flavored. The gelato part was rich and creamy but the mix was only lightly sweetened. The grassy notes came through and I thought it was amazing. She made it only once a year and it was a treat that i always looked forward to when she brought it over. Each portion was a small rounded mound of gelato served in a small blue porcelain bowl that I’m pretty sure spent the rest of the year being used to serve soy sauce.

Time of course passes and not only did Starbucks spread through out the land (and many others) Matcha became much more available and began turning up everywhere. In many places where it is served cold, it is also served far too sweet for me to enjoy and so I switched to the hot version.

After being introduced to Matcha in gelato, it took me a little while to adjust to the flavor in a hot beverage, but now it is one of my favorite teas.

This Matcha from the Art of Tea came in the Sampler kit i am working my way through and contains just two ingredients: Organic Matcha and Organic Sencha Green Tea. It is listed as having a bright grassy flavor and medium caffeine. For me the medium caffeine is the perfect level for an afternoon treat. It is enough of a pick me up, but not enough to make me feel jittery.

the flavor nots are spot on it has those clean grassy notes that i love so much. With only a one minute brew time it was a quick and easy treat. After a sip of the Matcha tea straight, I added a pinch of sugar and a dash of cream. The additions were enough to take me back to that first Matcha Flavored Gelato, although with far fewer calories.

While I appreciated the flight of memory, the slight additions made me think of the gelato and so the cup of tea felt like so much more substantial and decadent. While I would definitely enjoy this tea as simply as an undoctored cup of tea, I did enjoy the touch of sweetness and creaminess. Although to be honest, a part of me wants to get several packets of this tea and break out my gelato recipe and infuse the cream with the matcha from the Art of Tea, recreating a childhood favorite. As a hot tea or a later gelato infusion, I can honestly say I will be ordering this tea again. I may even order the matcha tumbler or even the ceremonial matcha set they have on offer on the Art of Tea site. While the Ceremonial set plays into my love of glassware, I really do think the double glass walled tumbler with the on the go matcha packets will also be a purchase in my near future.

Tea time with White Coconut Crème

Good morning my darlings. I am slowly working my way through the At home starter Kit from The Art of Tea. It has eight sachets of tea. While I was planning on choosing them randomly, I will admit that the first tea I pulled from this box this time around heavily featured bergamot.

If you’ve read these posts for any length of time you know I am not a huge bergamot fan. In fact I am fairly certain I have a bit of an allergy to it. I can drink it but the scent of it makes me sneeze – a lot.

my 12 oz teapot

However my babydoll loves bergamot, as does my mother. So the ones featuring bergamot i will brew when he is around, take a sip to see about taste and then pass it off to him for descriptions. which should prove interesting because if he likes something that is different from normal he rates it as Fancy, but nice. If he doesn’t like it he seems to call it old lady fancy. which more or less means that it is something his grandmother would like but he doesn’t. I’ll try to get better descriptors out of him, but for today I chose something not bergamot related.

I will also admit that I really wanted to try this one. It is the White Coconut Crème. On the Art of Tea Website this tea is described as …

Steep a lively cup of our White Coconut Crème on the go with our eco-friendly, biodegradable pyramid sachets. This sweet, creamy fusion is a hand-blended mixture of white tea, organic coconut, and other botanicals for a smooth sip.

This product contains the following allergenic ingredient(s): Coconut

The Art of Tea

One sachet will give you 8-12 ounces and I have a small teapot that holds about 12 ounces of tea. It also has two four ounce cups so it feels like a lot of tea, especially if you are the one drinking it.

the small spoon I dipped into honey

while I do gravitate more towards coffee first thing in the morning I really do like various teas. In addition to being delicious, I find they are a great way to fill me up for few calories. Especially if I know I shouldn’t eat but feel the need to because I’m taking a mid afternoon break, or watching television. Tea is very filling with very few calories. In general I do take my tea plain with few additives. However sometimes I will add a little sweetener.

Today i brewed the tea for three minutes and then poured out. I didn’t think of the dark cup interior until i poured. The tea has almost no color. At first I thought I hadn’t steeped it long enough, but as I poured the scent of creamy coconut reached my nose.

many of you my be thinking of my coconut complaints of yore. We went through a time where it seemed everything was scented with faux coconut and while I don’t mind he scent it got to be a bit much. I actually like to eat coconut and I like actual coconut flavored things. It was just the endless parade of coconut scented products that got to me.

with nothing added to it, this tea had a creamy coconut scent to it. The ingredients are Organic White Tea, Organic Safflower, Organic Cornflower, Organic Coconut, Natural and Artificial Flavors *Contains tree nuts (Coconut). That’s it. the full ingredients list. And to be honest, I tasted creamy coconut and nothing else. It is a light flavor, almost more scent than taste. I added a tiny bit of honey after my first few sips and it was amazing. I didn’t add a lot, basically I took a small tea spoon and dipped it in the honey jar. I didn’t scoop, just drizzled.

this was a blend that responded really well to just a little extra sweetness. while I enjoyed this tea immensely, I could see it becoming a real treat for guests. If making a pot for more than just myself I would use more than one tea bag (although one bag for 12 oz seems about right.) As a gest treat I would serve it with honey and possibly a little dish of coconut cream. I think that would make it feel like an absolutely decadent treat. i would still serve it in smaller glasses but the dip of honey and small bit of coconut cream would make this feel almost like a desert in itself. If served with a slice of banana bread it would be absolutely delicious.

While I would simply get this tea for myself to drink with a touch of honey for a personal treat, I think this would shine as a holiday treat for company exceedingly well. whenever we have company there is always that time when someone wants a little something between meal times. This White Coconut Crème Tea from the Art of Tea would fit nicely into that slot. It is certainly something I will be thinking about adding to my list when I put together my company’s coming list.

The Eight Saints Discovery Kit

They say that persistence pays off and occasionally that is true. For the past few months there have been several commercials that appear to be stalking me.

The first and longest running has been the Dior Sauvage commercial. I love many products from Dior, but I did try a sample of this and I am fairly certain I am allergic. I have nearly sneezed my head off the entire time i was wearing it. (which was longer than I thought because even after a thorough shower and scrub down I could still smell traces)

Geico and Capitol One are repeat offenders as well although neither make me sneeze.

Then there were the three that got me. The first was the Maybelline Perfector 4-in-1 Glow which i am currently testing out and the other two were skincare discovery kits from brands I have never tried. One was a trio from Bubble Skincare, which I will try after this, and then there was the twelve piece discovery kit that I will start rolling in tonight.

Have no fear, while tomorrow’s Skincare line up will feature the products I used over the past few weeks almost all of the bottles are empty or close to empty now. I actually finished a couple this morning which is why i will start this trial tonight and ease the products in one at a time over the weekend as my current products run out.

I found this Discovery Kit from Eight Saints interesting for a number of reasons. The first is because it was a brand I had not heard of. The second was because it has a full twelve products that compromise both a full day time and night time routine. Only the toner is used for both day and night use, the other products have their designated time.

Also I love that it comes with a recommended order of use list. While the card has one side that tells you wat each product does and lets you know that you are free to play around with the order to suit your needs, if you are new to skincare, the other side of the card has a recommended order of use.

Since skincare can be very daunting when you move beyond the basics of wash the face and maybe add a moisturizer, I think that this is a great addition to the kit.

The Discovery Kit costs $10 and has free shipping. It also comes with a $20 off your first order over $50. The non mini sizes range from around $25 – $60 in cost although they do have a selection of minis that are proceed in the $12-$16 range so if you tried something in the kit you liked but weren’t quite sure if you wanted a full size you could try it for longer without committing to the full size. I am a huge fan of mini and travel sizes especially when I am trying new things. They also really help put when traveling. (Its also why I tend to stock up on holiday mini kits in general at this time of year. Fabulous for travel and usually with holiday appropriate scents at this time of year.

this kit I purchased however so that I could try a range of products from a skincare brand that i knew nothing about. according to their about page, they narrow their products down to eight ingredients and are responsibly sourced and produced in small batches.

pouch close up

There is enough product for a week (maybe two) of use in the discovery kit which should be enough to let me know if I want to know more. I will also be looking more into the brand as I use the products. so next week’s line up will be more brand focused than usual. To be honest it has been a really long time since I have had a brand focused skincare line up and I am kind of looking forward to it. I’m also weirdly excited to be trying out items from a new to me brand.

the kit newly opened

but this post is about the kit itself. And while you two get the 12 sample sizes, they come wrapped in bubble wrap inside of a reusable bubble wrap pouch. It is a plastic zip top bag where the bubble wrap is sandwiched between the inner and outer sleeves of the bag. I love the look of it and as it is completely plastic next time i travel with a liquid foundation or any other liquid makeup product i am putting it in this. (I had a lip oil leak on my last trip.) these bags are so easy to rinse out when something like that happens.

Over all I am very impressed with the kit. It comes with the full range of products for a full day and night time routine. It has a card clearly explaining what each product is supposed to target and it lists the suggested order of use for someone who is new to multi product skincare. Add in the sustainability factor and I am really hoping that these products work out well. But as to that only time (and use) will tell. For now I can say I am very pleased with this discovery kit purchase. Let’ the Eight Saints test begin!

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