Tea and Me: Victorian London Fog

29511099_1720568888028057_2687522699676221440_oAs I sit here sipping a fresh brew, I realize that I never shared this, one of my new tea purchases. It is another Harney & Sons tea, relatively new to their line up. It’s a blend of black tea, oolong tea, bergamot oil, lavender and vanilla flavor. I like it quite a lot, but I’m not quite sure what the dominant fragrance is wafting from the mug just on the other side of my keyboard. It’s either the bergamot oil or the vanilla as I don’t think lavender has a very strong scent. I’ll have to find a bottle of bergamot oil and smell it to find out if it’s anything similar to the tea. I would highly recommend this tea. It’s got a middling amount of caffeine at 40 – 60 mg.

29496963_1720568994694713_4651256286564843520_o As previously stated, Harney & Sons do offer sample packets of their teas, but at the time of my purchase, there were no samples of this tea available, so I took a leap of faith and bought the next size up. It’s a lovely tin as you can see above and it will provide with perhaps 30 – 40 cups of tea, if not more.

Likes – 15; Dislikes – 5; Undecided – 1


Royal Baptism

I noted this morning that Meghan Markel, the soon-to-be princess to Prince Harry was baptized into the Church of England in a private ceremony. I despise the way that the media has called it a secret ceremony. I do not view privacy and secrecy to be interchangeable. I found this very adequate description of the difference.

“Privacy is the state of being unobserved; changing clothes for example — that which I keep private, I am merely withholding from public view. Private matters are those traits, truths, beliefs, and ideas about ourselves that we keep to ourselves. They might include our fantasies and daydreams, feelings about the way the world works, and spiritual beliefs. Private matters, when revealed either accidentally or purposefully, give another person some insight into the revealer.

Secrecy is the act of keeping things hidden — that which is secret goes beyond merely private into hidden. While secrecy spills  into privacy, not all privacy is secrecy. Secrecy stems from deliberately keeping something from others out of a fear. Secrets consist of information that has potentially negative impact on someone else-emotionally, physically, or financially. The keeper of secrets believes that if they are revealed either accidentally or purposefully,  the revelation may cause  harm to the secret-keeper and those around him or her.” (Jung at Heart)

Nothing that Meghan, or anyone else involved, did was hurtful to anyone, therefore it was a private affair.

Anyway, I find it interesting that the Royal Family are willing to accept that Meghan is a divorcée; that she’s an American (though one could argue that the nobility of England have been marrying Americans for many decades, albeit the wealthier ones); and even that a female in the line of succession will retain her position and not get set aside in favor of a younger brother; but they are immovable in the realm of religion. She is required to convert from Catholicism to Church of England.

I look forward to their wedding in May. I will rise early in the morning to watch it as I did for Prince William and their parents so many years ago.

Tea and Me: Strawberry Kiwi

This was one of the samples I bought from Harney & Sons. It’s an herbal tea with bits of dried fruit in amongst the rest of the plant. It has a very rich taste, but perhaps it’s because I drank it from a relatively small cup. I have at least two cups that are larger than normal and I think I might’ve used one of those on my initial tasting. I love the taste of both strawberries and kiwis, so if those are fruits you enjoy, this herbal tea I’d highly recommend.

Likes – 14; Dislikes – 5; Undecided – 1



Tea and Me: Scottish Morn

28381830_1683625788389034_1812587438_nThis morning I decided to try Scottish Morn, another Harney & Sons tea that I purchased. I have to say that this is not one of my favorites. It’s a loose tea, so I could examine its appearance as I poured it into the tea ball for brewing. It brought to mind instant coffee granules, but it smelled like the black tea I’m used to smelling, so I didn’t think much of that, other than it’s curious. By contrast, in the tin of another tea blend I have, the tea looks like very tiny twigs. There’s a lot of tannin in this tea, making my mouth feel “sticky” and the feeling goes all the way down to my throat. I don’t like that feeling. If you don’t know what tannins are (they’re also in wines if you’re a wine connoisseur), it’s that astringent feeling you get in your mouth after drinking wine.  I don’t drink a lot of wine because I don’t like the feeling then, either. This tea also has a very malty flavor and while good with milk, it’s still not for me. To be fair, though, Harney & Sons does advertise this tea as their strongest yet. Many of the reviews love it, so if you like strong teas, I highly recommend giving it a try. This one just isn’t for me.

Likes – 13; Dislikes – 5; Undecided – 1

Tea and Me: Berry Young

I had my first white tea last November at an event put on by the English Tea Room that I’ve mentioned before. It’s name, unfortunately, leads me to believe it’s available only a limited time every year. White Christmas. I immediately fell in love with this tea and in my order from Harney & Sons, I received a sample of a new white tea they’ve created, called Berry Young. It is equally as amazing as White Christmas. If you’ve never had a white tea, I highly recommend them. The flavored white teas have a richness that you won’t find in an herbal tea, because they are merely flowers or dried fruit bits. At the base of this tea is the same Camellia sinensis that all the other teas come from, so I think that adds to the richness of flavor. I can’t wait to try more white teas from Harney & Sons and others.

Likes – 13; Dislikes – 4; Undecided – 1

Tea and Me: The Return

My gosh I can’t believe that it’s been nearly a year since I have posted about a new tea!! In that time I have been drinking tea, but I’ve stuck to the old familiars. Even when I visited the tea room over these many months, I have stuck to teas I’m familiar with, with the exception of last November. Even for my birthday last month, upon discovering that you may try as many different teas as you’d like after the first pot, I stuck with the familiar.

I’m pleased to report that on Monday last I received my order from Harney & Sons and they are all brand new teas I’ve never tried before. I know this company hasn’t been around as long as some of the greats like Twinings, but Harney & Sons has over 200 different teas. These are the teas that are served at the tea room, so I can enjoy them again on future visits. Also, while I haven’t looked into other tea companies, you can order samples of the teas that Harney & Sons sells. they range from $2-$4 for a bag that will make 2-3 cups.

I’d like to talk about the different types of teas, before I share information about these teas that I’ve bought. I may or may not have previously covered this, but I’m going over it again. For those who don’t know, with the exception of herbal teas that come from flowers and fruits, all tea comes from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. The different types of teas are created by processing the leaves in various ways. These are the types:

White tea: (least amount of caffeine) Traditionally cultivated in China, white tea was picked only a few days out of the year, when a white down, known as bai hao, appeared on the tender shoots. The tea shoots are allowed to wither then dry to prevent oxidization. This process is a delicate one, requiring strict attention from the tea makers. Nowadays, other tea growing regions as Darjeeling and Sri Lanka have begun to cultivate white tea, in an effort to capitalize off white tea’s growing popularity.

Green tea: (some caffeine, but generally low amounts) Because they are unoxidized, green teas keep their vital color. To prevent oxidization, the leaves are heat processed to eliminate the enzyme responsible for oxidization. In China, this is generally done by roasting or pan-firing the leaves, while the Japanese generally accomplish this by steaming the leaves at a high temperature. Each process tends to bring out a more particular flavor from the tea leaves. The Chinese style of processing tends to bring out a mouthwatering range of flavors from citrus-like to smoky with a lighter body. The color of the liquor is usually not a true “green”, but a pale yellow or straw color. The steaming process yields a deep vegetal or herbaceous quality-a characteristic prized in Japanese teas. Japanese green teas range in color of liqour from the pale green of a light sencha, to the deep grassy green of a gyokuro. Green teas that have been steamed contain more moisture and are therefore more delicate. Such teas should be stored at cooler temperatures and consumed sooner after picking than pan-fired teas.

Oolong tea: (mid-level amounts of caffeine) Oolong, also spelled Wu Long, teas are semi-oxidized. The term in Chinese actually means “Black Dragon”. Oolong teas have long been cultivated in both mainland China and Taiwan. In general, larger, mature leaves are picked, withered, rolled, oxidized, and then fired. The leaves can be allowed to oxidize between 10% to 80%. Often, different tea estates have their preferred ways of making oolong tea. It is because of the intricacy of this process that oolong teas can have the widest array of flavors and aromas. Furthermore, oolongs can be steeped several time, with each successive infusion having its own distinctive taste and fragrance.

Black tea: (highest amounts of caffeine) Black tea is the most well-known variety of tea in the West. Known as “red tea” in China, black tea leaves are fully oxidized. In the case of most black teas, younger leaves are picked before being withered, rolled, fully oxidized, and fired. While created originally in China, black teas are now cultivated worldwide. Some of the most famous black teas come from the Indian regions of Assam, Darjeeling, and Nilgiri as well as Sri Lanka. The use of machines is becoming more common, but the best black teas are those entirely done by hand. Machine-processed teas tend to be of lower quality and are generally used in tea bags.

The long-standing trend in black tea, taken from the British, has been to create “blends”. For centuries, tea companies take various kinds of tea to create a particular flavor or character-for example, a strong breakfast tea or a delicate afternoon tea. And just like a perfume house, several older tea companies are known for their signature blends. But as the quality and character of tea harvests can vary greatly year to year, tea companies rely on the skills of tea blenders to take different teas from the year’s harvest to create the same taste again and again.


Abdication of Edward VIII

On 10 December 1936, Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David, of the House of Windsor (formerly Saxe-Coburg and Gotha) abdicated the throne of England in order to marry his love, American divorcee Wallis Simpson. His younger brother Albert would ascend to the throne as King George VI, who is the current queen’s father.