Going on hiatus - NM Tea Co is awesome.

So it's Friday and I still haven't done a tea post... Still really busy!

Uhm, New Mexico Tea Company is awesome. More to come.


Gardening with Tabitha

Cats on Tuesday

Still no trout. I have not been fishing for a couple days because I have been busy getting my garden ready. Tabby has been helping, she likes rolling in the dirt and sniffing things. Every spring and summer Tabitha likes to follow me to the garden and pretend she's in a jungle.

Cheeto has found something besides her cat condo nest to sit on. She likes admiring herself in the mirror.

... Yeah, it's short this week.


Butiki Teas - Pumpkin Creme Brulee and Pineapple Cilantro Cream

I think I am going to start doing my tea posts on Friday until classes are done. Thursdays I am usually so busy finishing my American Lit assignments to blog. I know I could just finish my assignments earlier in the week, or do my blog posts earlier and schedule them to be posted on Thursday, but I doubt I will.

So I will aim for Thursday but probably hit Friday, at least until classes end for the summer. 

This week is Butiki Tea, Pineapple Cilantro Cream and Pumpkin Creme Brulee. Butiki has some really unusual but high quality teas.

NOT a slug
While I was ordering some of the pumpkin creme brulee my curiosity got the better of me and I ordered some of this tea too. I think this is the most unusual tea I have.

When I opened the bag (cute bags too, btw) I was at first startled by what I thought was some kind of white slug clinging to the inside of the bag just about above the tea. It took me a couple minutes before I realized it was just a piece of pineapple. I felt pretty stupid. Apart from the pineapple pieces being mistaken for slugs by my nearsighted self this tea is very attractive looking; vivid green leaves, little bright pink flowers.

The taste is pretty good, I am not usually a big fan of pineapple but it had a nice taste without that strange mouthfeel eating pineapple or drinking pineapple juice gives me. I did not really notice any creaminess or the cilantro.

I had been down about David's Tea pumpkin chai not being available so I ordered Butiki's Creme Brulee. I had heard good things about it and I noticed it has pumpkin flakes, the best pumpkin teas have real squash or pumpkin in them.

I was looking for a tea to help me cope until fall when David's Tea has their pumpkin chai again and I think I found one. Actually this tea ties with David's Tea Pumpkin chai. It is not as spicy as the pumpkin chai I love, but it is even more pumpkiny. I never thought a tea could be more pumpkin than David's Tea Pumpkin

This tea tastes like someone liquified and heated the inside of a pumpkin pie. This tea is so good. I had it with a little milk and brown sugar. The only way I can think to make this better would be to top it with whipped cream which I do not have right now.

For some reason the tea smells like green pumpkin vines.

Butiki Teas: I hope you keep this tea available year-round!
chai. I am putting this tea on a shelf next to the Pumpkin Chai and playing romantic music hoping the two will reproduce.
If I have money I think I will be ordering more Pumpkin Creme Brulee to tide me over until David's Pumpkin Chai returns. 

Now I am going to try getting some sleep. I am hoping to go fishing in the morning, I still have not caught a trout. I also need to work on my garden.

Update - the Pumpkin Creme brulee is available year round. 


So this is Spring

Not exaggerating about the enormous minnows
Opening Day for Trout Season was Saturday in Connecticut. I was going to do an opening day post Monday, but since I didn't catch any trout I could not write much without whining. All I can seem to do is catch enormous minnows and lose lures. I even tried using powerbait nuggets, normally a guarantee to catch a stocked trout early in the season, and the $&*#@( minnows ate that too!

So on to Cats on Tuesday.

Cheeto is being really sweet and adorable as usual, she does this thing where she will roll around chasing her tail. I think she's a small long-tailed polar bear.

I stacked a box full of gardening stuff on top of a laundry basket, and piled some fishing stuff (line, a telescoping rod, some bobbers, etc,) on top of he box. Of course Pout had to jump onto the box and when he jumped off he tipped over the basket and now my fishing gear is scattered all over a quarter of my room. At least there are no loose hooks to worry about. I think Cheeto enjoyed playing with one of the bobbers that I will never find again. I usually don't lose fishing gear until I get it to the water.


Boston Marathon and David's Tea - The Chai Collection

I was in Boston last week. Boston is such a neat city, besides all the history of the place there are so many things to see and do there. Whenever I get a chance to go to Boston I take it. While I was in Boston I took a walk over to the David's Tea store on Washington Street, the staff was friendly and I was relieved to read that they are safe. I saw signs for the Boston Marathon and even though I am not into sports I thought the Marathon would be something interesting to see.

I am deeply saddened by what happened at the Marathon. Three people killed, including an 8-year-old boy, so many injured... Such a thing should never happen.

Of course there are already rumors circulating about the Marathon bombing. Please verify before you click share or forward. Snopes and ThatsNonesense already have pages up on the Boston Marathon. Also there will probably be fake charities run by scam artists using the Boston Marathon so be careful who you donate to. The One Fund is a genuine charity set up to help the victims.


Nesting Cats

Cats on Tuesday

Sorry, I'm late again. I am actually hanging out with my sister's cats tonight. I will try to post some pics next week. Tawny got a haircut and is looking handsome. Miss Kitty is looking round and colorful.

My own cats have been having a good week. They got to have their own late Easter Egg hunt, if i ever get the time I will edit and upload the video of that... Maybe I will have it in time of Easter 2015. They got a lot of treats and some new catnip mice, and a cat condo.

Cheeto loves to sleep in the nest on top of hte condo, it is just the right size for her. I put it next to my desk so while I'm working on my computer she will curl up in her nest and be near me. Every now and then she'll give a chirrup so I will pet her and she will purr. The other day while she was feeling frisky and jumping around she squeezed into the middle condo and gave a chirp so I would look and see where she was. Her own fluffiness was forcing her out of the middle condo. Cheeto thought it was very funny.

One side of the condo is covered in sisal so all the cats like scratching it, but mostly ignore it. Sometimes, when Cheeto is not curled up on top, Pout will lay in the top nest for a little while but I do not think he really cares about it. He only goes in there because Cheeto spends a lot of time there and he gets jealous. He has his own nest, a plastic Christmas wreath.


Is it a Hoax? And Zhena's Raspberry Earl Grey

So I am getting a tea post done in time. Or almost on time, depending on when I finish typing and hit publish.

Am I the only one who thinks this story about a woman drinking 100 cups of tea a day for 17 years is just a hoax? Those who have not read the story a woman supposedly drank 100 cups of tea a day for 17 years and now has high bone density. The story is usually under the headline about how tea is actually bad for you. There are a few things about this story that make me think it's a joke.
  • The story came out shortly before April Fools Day. Tea being healthy is being exaggerated all over the place, someone overdoing tea drinking until her bones got messed up is something of a joke.
  • How can this woman afford 100 bags of tea a day? I understand that not everyone drinks fancy expensive teas but even so that much tea adds up.
  • How can anyone drink 100 cups of anything a day and not die of water poisoning? Was she working out hard and sweating it out? Unless she kept the tea near the toilet she would not have enough time to drink half that much a day- the human bladder can only hold so much for so long and tea is a diuretic. Did she just stay home all day drinking tea? That's what I do most days but even I don't have enough time to drink that much.
  • Another story says she did not drink 100 cups but actually made a pitcher of tea every day with 100-150 tea bags and drank it. I go through about 100 cups wit ha tea in a month. That tea had to be strong enough to float a horse shoe. I drink a lot of tea but if I drink more than 4 cups too closely together at regular strength I get the caffeine jitters. Unless it was decaf or a caffeine free herbal she had to be getting way too much caffeine. The average 8 oz cup of tea (how much you get with the average teabag) has 15-70 mg of caffeine, if she used 100-150 teabags she was consuming 1.5-10.5 grams of caffeine a day from tea alone, even more if she just left the teabags in the pitcher all day. She probably stretched out her tea drinking all day but she had to be close to caffeine toxicity. I can only imagine the insomnia and anxiety she would suffer.
  • Then the article ends with this: "she is now hooked on another beverage: Diet Coke". Diet Coke is another drink that people think is healthy because it does not have sugar, but it's not healthy at all. Diet Coke and other sodas are said to lower bone density and contribute to osteoporosis. Another reason why I think this whole story is a joke. Or at least is being treated as one.
 If the story is true of course I wish this woman well.

Now how about a tea review?
Zhena's Gypsy Tea Raspberry EG

I had been wanting to try a raspberry Earl Grey ever since I heard about Ovation Teas Raspberry EG. Ovation Tea is no more but I googled up another raspberry Earl Grey, this one by Zhena's Gypsy Tea. I thought the price on the website seemed a little high, especially for a bagged tea so I never ordered it. But last week I was browsing the teas at Ocean State Job Lot (a store almost identical to Big Lots) and was shocked to find tins of Zhena's Raspberry Earl Grey for only $2! I can afford that, though I was afraid that the tea would not be very good. Most of the tea I buy cheap at Ocean State tends to be dried up, stale, weak and not very good tasting. But I was curious and bought it. The tin had a small dent on the lid, I think the other tins may have also been dented, so maybe they were at Ocean State and on sale for so cheap because of the lightly damaged cans being unsuitable for sale at full price?
I steeped it for about 3 minutes with freshly boiled water. Here's my Steepster review:

Zhena's Gypsy Tea Raspberry EG

 It's been so long since I last posted a tasting note. Class has me so busy lately. *sigh*

I have been wanting to try this tea for a while, and was surprised to find a tin of it at Ocean State Job Lot. Ocean State's teas aren't always the best (Ocean State is a lot like Big Lots) they tend to be old and dried up. So I was worried that I would not be getting the best possible first impression of Zhena's Gypsy Tea. However the tin must have been well sealed, or the tea fresher than most tea I have found at this store, because it did not taste the least bit stale and has a nice aroma dry.

I steeped it for only 3 minutes but found it on the bitter side. Not too bitter but still a little more bitter than I would prefer my Earl Grey. A shorter steep time might improve the bitterness. I added a little sugar and it was better, bitterness-wise. Also a little milk does not hurt it.

Overall it is a good bagged Earl Grey, a lot of bergamot flavor and a good hint of raspberry. Most flavored Earl Greys do not have enough bergamot to satisfy me but this tea does. I usually wind up not liking raspberry teas but am happy to report that this is one of the raspberry teas I like.

I think this tin was like two bucks, I will have to get back to Ocean State and get some more.
Zhena's Gypsy Tea Raspberry EG

I really liked the tea but I probably will not be buying more of it anytime soon, I have so much tea I have not even tried yet. I got in an order from NM Tea Company and Butiki Teas just today, and I am planning on putting in another small order with Upton Teas in the near future (I need small tins... and to try their chocolate Earl Grey) so getting more of a tea I already have is something I am going to avoid.

In other news I bought a glass mug because I thought it would look better on my blog. Unfortunately the mouth of this new mug has a 3.5" diameter and my widest tea strainer has a 3" diameter meaning the tea strainer will fall into the mug. So I am looking into other tea strainers or figuring out a way to hold up the strainer, besides standing there holding the handle.

Ah, it's after midnight so I am not getting this post published before midnight after all. But it's not my fault, I think my computer is updating and the photo uploader does not want to work. And the ^#*@ pictures do not want to go where I want them to and it is seriously ticking me off. Maybe I should just give up on photos and make everyone just read.

If I get the #^@&* uploader to work here's a hint at what brand of tea I plan on reviewing next week:


Cats- Striper and Midnight

Still have been really busy. I feel guilty for not doing a tea post on Thursday (Sorry tea-drinkers following me!) I have had some really good tea lately so hopefully I'll have a good post about tea on Thursday.

Now: Cats on Tuesday!

I have been away from home so I do not have much to say about my cats, other than they have been cheating on me with my mother. Deep betrayal. So I have some photos of cats from the past.

First up is Midnight, a gorgeous black cat.
I did have a slightly better picture of her, but there was a dead chipmunk in the foreground so I decided not to blog it. Midnight was the best hunter I have ever met. Besides chipmunks, a few birds, many rodents (countless mice and voles, a freaky looking star-nosed mole), she would bring home rabbits. Not just baby bunnies but rabbits as big as herself that she would have to walk backwards in order to drag them from the field. One time she brought home some sort of weasel I did not even know we had in Connecticut until Midnight proudly carried one home one day (I think it was a short-tailed weasel). Midnight was a medium-sized cat, if she was any bigger I think she would have brought home deer. Midnight always walked like she was in a great hurry to be somewhere important, that place was somewhere destroying wildlife.Now I do not recommend letting cats wander outdoors, especially not where I live where cars fly by not caring what is in the road. But Midnight did not die until she was well into her late teens, and then it was old age catching up to her. She was one of the rare cats that knew how to cross the road without getting run over and would never be happy as a strictly indoor cat. Midnight also enjoyed a bit of milk every day which is also bad for cats.

We were Midnight's third owners. Her first owners had moved and decided to leave their pets behind. Friends of the family lived nearby and took Midnight in, but when Midnight turned out pregnant they passed her onto us. Midnight had six kittens, 3 black and white, 3 tabbies, 2 girls (both tabbies) and the rest boys.

Striper was the runty one of the litter, but a gorgeous cat. Her pictures don't do her coat justice, she was a classic tabby with a shining silvery-brown coat. The prettiest cat I have ever had and I never found another cat with the same coloring.
Little Striper Night
Striper also spent time outside though not as much as Midnight. She was a laid back and trusting cat, I used to be able to pick her up and stretch her on her back along my arm and she would let me rub her belly.
Striper taking a dustbath in the driveway

She also did not mind getting wet. The hose did not reach all the way to the garden so we would have a bucket where the hose ended filling with water while we lugged a second bucket to the garden to water the plants. When the water started overflowing the bucket before we could get back to it Striper would bat at the overflowing water as if trying to push it back in. If we waved the hose she would chase the stream and get soaked. She was a fun cat.


Cats - Happy Easter

It's been a week already? And it's already April. Dang. Still busy with classes but at least I'm not sick anymore. I have a couple more things going on this month:

  • Camp NaNowriMo is this month (and again in August). You might have noticed the link in my sidebar. It is like NaNoWriMo in November, only more flexible. You can set your own wordcount goal, I am aiming for only 35,000 words. I like to plot out novels ahead of time, but so far all I have is a vague idea that I realize is a lot like "The Bottle Imp" by Robert Louis Stevenson. No character notes, not even names. I have not written a single word yet either.
  • Trout Season in Connecticut opens on the 20th. I need to put some fresh line on my favorite rod and get my stuff together. Not sure where I'll fish on opening day but I'll be fishing somewhere. Hopefully I'll catch something. 
  • Need to get started on my final project for my Lit class. 
  • National Library Week? Huh. Well won't that be fun. Begins on the 14th of this month.
  • Get my garden started, do some planting, especially later in the month. I already planted some sugar snap peas and put down some gardening fabric. I still need to get some seedlings started. If I do any good I'll blog about it.

 Now Cats on Tuesday:

This week I am featuring my sister's cats, my other sister, not the one with the kitten. Myss Kytti is a calico (and was mortal enemies with Rivkah during the brief time they were under the same roof) and her other cat is Tawny Scrawny Lion (he's a little strange) a very long haired golden cat who sports a lion cut. They celebrated Easter with an Easter Egg Hunt. Check out the video (Those subbed by email may not get the video):

Happy cats. Makes me wish I did something for my cats on Easter. Maybe I can get some plastic Easter Eggs on clearance.


Tea - For a sick person

Sorry no tea reviews this week. Still getting over that cold. I spent a couple days in my room with an electric kettle, sleeping and drinking tea. I had not felt focused enough to measure out tea leaves so I've been drinking bagged teas, mostly herbals like Celestial Seasoning.  Lemon Zinger and Jammin' Lemon Ginger belong together. And a lot of honey.


The Cats - Ive been sick

Cats on Tuesday

I've been down with a bad cold. The soothing throat charm tea did not cure me this time. I have mostly been sleeping the past couple of days.

Pout has not been the most helpful. He found some noisy toy with a bell in it and played with it under my bed. I do not recall him enjoying any bell toys while I was not sick.

Cheeto has a much better bedside manner. When I'm not feeling well Cheeto snuggles next to me, purring gently.


Going Grey

I have a couple Earl Grey variations to review this week.

I got some Harney & Sons Earl of Harlem tea in sachets. The sachets are meant for 16 ounces of water so I used the biggest mug I could find, literally a soup bowl with a handle. I steeped it for about 4 minutes in boiled water and added a little sugar.

My Steepster tasting notes:
Used one of the sachets with about 16 oz of water. The dry tea smelled like a strong Earl Grey. However after I steeped it the smokiness overpowered the bergamot. I added some sugar and as the tea cooled I could taste a hint of bergamot. Next time I might try this mixed with another Earl Grey to help fight the smoke.

Not a bad tea but not one I would buy. Glad I got to sample it. 

Baroness Grey by Culinary Teas is an Earl Grey with orange and lemon peel, rose and cornflower petals, cinnamon pieces. I steeped it for about 4 minutes in boiled water. My Steepster tasting notes:

At first sip maybe a little too strong, I will have to decrease the steep time next time, and maybe have the water be below boiling.

It's a pretty powerful Earl Grey, it reminds me of Russian Earl Grey, only more floral. Very citrus, I can still taste the bergamot but I can also taste lemon and I think orange rind. It is a good blend. 

I managed to get some of Ovation Tea's Blueberry Earl Grey. It is a very different Earl Grey, as I was looking at the leaves I realized that it actually has dried blueberries in it. Not those tiny wild blueberries that you sometimes get in cereals, but great big ones. It also has orange peel, marigold petals and cornflowers. My Steepster tasting notes:
The first time I tried making this tea I got distracted and oversteeped it by 7+ minutes. Needless to say it was bitter.

A while later I tried it again with fresh leaves for about 4 minutes. It was very blueberry-ish. It could use more bergamot but still a good Earl Grey. I am thinking of mixing with with some double bergamot for MORE bergamot, or some EG cream because a creamy blueberry EG has to be awesome.

It is good with milk and some sugar helps bring out the blueberry. I might try an even shorter steep time to see if that keeps the bergamot from being overwhelmed by the blueberry. 
Sadly if you want some of Ovation Tea's Blueberry Earl Grey it will be hard to find since they're out of business now. :-/ Ovation also has a raspberry Earl Grey I would like to try but it will not be easy to find.

52 Teas has been selling the Earl Black at half price so I gave into temptation and ordered an ounce. The Earl Black is actually a white tea flavored with bergamot and blackcurrant. My Steepster tasting notes:
It could use more bergamot, but I say that about almost every Earl Grey tea (the exception being ETS double bergamot, and maybe a few regular Earl Greys) I can't seem to get enough bergamot.

Very fruity, the blackcurrant comes through clear. Next time I think I will steep it longer because it seemed a little weak at 2 and a half minutes (Or it could be the white tea, I'm not used to white tea and am still developing a taste for it). And maybe add a little double bergamot.

Glad I got this tea. Working on tasting every Earl Grey there is and I think this is my first EG made with white tea. 

I did the unthinkable and steeped this white tea for over five minutes. It did not turn bitter at all, and I liked it a lot better 'oversteeped'. The bergamot was more noticeable. 
52 Teas has a few other Earl Greys (Earl Pink) that I'd like to try.


Mr Roger's Day

Sorry no WBW from me this week. It's Fred Roger's Birthday today.

I watched his show when I was little, and I won;'t say how old I was when I stopped watching it. Mr Rogers kind of annoyed me but I loved the Land of Make Believe.

(Sorry this post is so short, I have a spreadsheet assignment due today so back to the grindstone)


Rivkah as a Kitten

Cats on Tuesday

I came across some pictures of Rivkah when she was little so I decided to do a post of kitten pictures. I haven't been able to find any kitten pictures of Pout, though I must have some somewhere. When I find them I will have to do another post. (Pout was an adorable kitten, fluffy with extra whiskers)

Baby Rivkah and littermates
In case you can't tell, Riv is the one climbing out the bottom left corner. Ben-Oni is the other kitten with a ticked coat and is right behind Riv.

Playful Riv
I hope I find the negative of this photo, and that it's in better shape, sad how scratched up it had gotten.
Tabitha, Rivkah and Ben-Oni
Tabby was born about 3 weeks after Rivkah and Ben (Cheeto is Tabitha's mother, Tabby is the only kitten she ever had). Tabitha was the only kitten in her litter so she was almost as big as Riv and her littermates but not as developed mentally, did not have the same level of coordination... She got picked on a lot.

Trudy did not like wrestling and playing rough, but Cheeto loved it. So Trudy would take care of Tabitha while Cheeto played with Trudy's kittens.


Some Tisanes - Montana Gold and Evening in Missoula

This week I am reviewing two of my favorite herbal teas. Yes, I know herbals/tisanes are not really tea but I make them with hot water and really like them. Both are blended by the Montana Spice and Tea Company, there are quite a few places to buy these teas online, these I got from TeaSource.

Montana Gold is a rooibos tea with orange rind, clove and cinnamon. I steep for about 6 minutes with boiled water. Here is my Steepster review:
Montana Gold
I need to get more of this tea, I drank the last of it the other day. Either hot or cold it's good. No sweetener needed. A great tea to drink late in the day without any caffeine to keep you up.

A lot of cinnamon taste, hints of citrus. The cinnamon is stronger with the second steeping. 

Evening in Missoula is my favorite tisane. It smells and tastes a little like birch beer. It has just about everything in it, but none of the ingredients are overpowering. Here's the ingredient list:

  • Blackberry leaf
  • Chamomile
  • Damiana
  • Lavender extract
  • Lemon peel
  • Papaya leaf
  • Passion flower
  • Peppermint
  • Raspberry
  • Red clover
  • Rosehips
  • Spearmint
  • Star anise
  • Strawberry leaf
  • Vanilla 
  • Wild cherry bark
  • Wintergreen
Evening in Missoula
 I might attempt to blend simpler teas and tisanes, but home made Evening in Missoula is out of my league. Steepster review from a couple months ago:
I started drinking this tea recently but it’s quickly become my favorite tisane. All the herbs blend together perfectly, nothing overpowering the other herbs, an aftertaste like birch beer. Tastes good hot or cold, though it tastes a little sweeter if you let it cool. It doesn’t need any sweetener, though I sometimes add a little honey.
I usually steep it 6 minutes but it can probably steep for less than that, I’m used to black teas and this tea looks light yellow in my glass pot but it’s stronger than it looks. This tea can be steeped at least twice and still taste as strong as the first steeping.
This tea is something of a cure-all too.

 It is a very relaxing tea. I really need to order more of this tea too, I have been scraping the bottom of the bag so the picture of the tisane leaves is not the fairest.

Both tisanes are usually found looseleaf, but can be found bagged. I prefer looseleaf but getting Montana Gold bagged might be better than loose because rooibos likes to escape most tea strainers.


Wild Bird Wednesday - Sparrows and a Bluebird

Camera Critters

I have been really busy with classes, but while I have a chance I'll post a few bird photos. Most of them are feeder shots, quite a few sparrows (I love sparrows). I actually manged to take a half decent picture of a bluebird through the window.

Pout is a serious bird watcher.

Hungry little sparrow


I think they were robins, they're so far away they could just be rocks on the snow.
I was excited to see a woodpecker at the suet, a different species than usually is there but by the time I got my camera ready it flew away. Stupid bird. But then this bluebird showed up and hung out in the tree long enough for a quick shot. Bluebirds never seem to hang out at the feeder for long.