Sunday, August 11, 2013

Ahmad Tea: Keeping Tea All In The Family

It's been too long since the Darjeeling Darlings have done a write up on a brand of tea. But we couldn't think of a better way to get back into the swing of things than by introducing Ahmad Tea to our readers. Not only do we love their tea, but we can't help but give them one giant gold star for the way they do business too. As we've said before, there's nothing the Darjeeling Darlings love more than drinking tea to support a good cause.

Lizzie waves with Ahmad Tea at hand

When one samples a variety of teas from a given company, what do you as the consumer use as a standard test of quality? Do you compare how their version of "Earl Grey" stands next to your go-to brand's version of "Earl Grey?" Do give more credit for how many different kinds of tea a company offers or is tea leaf quality more important? Since the Darjeeling Darlings are professional serious tea enthusiasts and reviewers of tea, we try to look at the whole picture a tea company has taken, or maybe not taken, the time to paint for its potential buyers. We look at medium, composition, texture, color, and all the other components that make a painting great. So how does Ahmad Tea look when broken down piece by piece? Let's start with tea quality and taste.
Ahmad Tea's "Earl Grey"-perfect for an afternoon cup any day

It's always good to take a flavor you drink on the daily for a test drive when exploring a new frontier. We sipped "English Breakfast" to do the trick and found Ahmad Tea's version to be a green light to start brewing their other teas. It's a tricky thing, does one want all "English Breakfasts" to taste the same from brand to brand, or does a little ingredient variation between companies provide a nice taste twist to keep things interesting? Personally, the latter suits our fancy because we find subtle differences to be a pleasant surprise and relief from the predictable and expected. Ahmad Tea's "English Breakfast" gave a softer spin to the standard eat-with-your-toast-and-jam morning tea and that's okay. Most days you rely on that bold morning tea to launch you into your to-do list, but other days you just need a morning tea to gently coax you into productivity.

Lizzie believes breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Although the kitchen was fresh out of Ahmad Tea's "English Breakfast" (her new favorite), she found "English Tea No. 1" to be a lovely substitute.  

As it is still summer, we'd like to point out that there's no better time to serve hot fruit flavored teas at high tea. Raspberry, peach, blackberry ginger, passion fruit...the list goes on. We sampled Ahmad Tea's "Blackcurrant" and "Mixed Berries" while braving the heat of the South this July. What gems we found them to be! We always find it to be a plus when teas don't need any extra sugar added because that means the tea leafs are of good quality and well matched to the intended flavor. And what fun when a tea advertised as berry flavored produces a deep violet color to match, as was the case for "Mixed Berries." Blackcurrant really is the winner among the two though. It smells like an English countryside garden full of Verbena, Chrysanthemum, Peonies, and lush shrubbery summer blooms. If the staff of Downton Abbey served a tea to the Crawley family while they overlooked the garden mid day, it would be "Blackcurrant." What more can be said?

"Cardamon." Just thinking about it gives us a hankering for tea with a bit of kick to it. Are you a fan of Chai tea hot or iced? Pippa is. a borderline addict. This black tea composed of leaves fresh from Sri Lanka can actually be used to make Indian Chai tea according to Ahmad Tea. But for Chai lovers, just the hint of exotic spice will win you over. However, it truly sits as the happy medium between black tea and Chai for those bored or disenchanted with either. And with chilly weather approaching fast, what better tea to have saved for the fall?

Let's examine a couple other components of Ahmad Tea, namely how they run their company. Ahmad Tea was founded in 1986 and has remained a family business to this day based in Hampshire, UK. Not only are they family owned, but they've grown to serve tea to 70 countries around the world. Did we mention they're a member of the United Kingdom Tea Council too? We find their website pretty inviting as well. Not sure what tea to buy next? Try their "tea finder" that will help make a selection based on flavor and mood. Have a tasty tea recipe you're just itching to share? Or maybe you're looking for something new to bake for a tea party? Take a gander the tea recipe page where you'll find all kind of new treats to try.

We've saved our favorite part of Ahmad Tea for last though, which is their various charity work in health care, child welfare, education, community, and environment around the world. Ahmad Tea has close ties with Sri Lanka being that they've used tea leaves from the area for decades. It's no surprise then that Ahmad Tea plays an important part in the Razavi Project, an effort to improve services and facilities at the Sri Lanka National Cancer Institute. But Ahmad Tea also does work in Russia, Niger, and the Ukraine to support teenage orphans, bring water to drought-prone communities, and improve access to higher education.

All this being said, we hope Ahmad Tea continues to provide fine teas around the world while keeping their fingers in various charitable causes. With success like they've had, why not keep tea all in the family?

Until next time!

~The Darjeeling Darlings

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Downton Abbey Tea at Crest Hill Antiques and Tearoom

Every true tea lover has standard tearooms that they like to return to. Mine is quickly becoming Crest Hill Antiques and Tearoom in the Plains, Va.  I first discovered Crest Hill last summer and was extremely pleased with my visit. I made sure to like their Facebook page so I would be in the loop for special events. I noticed back in January that they were throwing a Downton Abbey themed tea. I immediately called to reserve my spot and am so glad I did!

Since Downton Abbey is a staple Sunday night show in my family (even my dad enjoys it, although he pretends not to), we needed to find away to celebrate the third season's premiere. Crest Hill Antiques and Tearoom provided the opportunity that we needed with their "Downton Abbey Tea". My mom and I decided that we would invite some friends that are fellow Downton lovers. This was my second visit to the tearoom so I hopeful it would be as great as the first!

Since this was a specialty tea, there was a Downton Abbey inspired menu. All of the recipes came from The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook.  We were given the choice of soup or salad for our starter. I decided to go with the soup and found myself wishing I could have another bowl. For the sandwich course, we were served four different types of sandwiches.  My favorites were Lady Mary's Crab Canapés  and Grand Gougere with Cheese and Sweet Pimento. They were both extremely rich and utterly delicious. For desert, the choice was easy. We were given the option of Mrs. Patmore's Madeira Pound Cake or Tweeny's Tipsy Cake, a chocolate espressos treat. I went with the pound cake since I am not a fan of espresso. The cake was warm and heavenly.
Creamy Butternut Squash Soup 

Spinach Salad, with Pears, Cranberries, Walnuts, Crumbled Feta, and Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
Lady Mary's Crab Canapés
Cousin Isabel's Smoked Salmon
Classic Egg Salad Tea Sandwich
Grand Gougere with Cheese and Sweet Pimento 
Mrs. Patmore's Madeira Pound Cake
Tweeny's Tipsy Cake

The Downton Abbey Tea Selections

Overall, I was extremely delighted with the event. The tea and food were are extremely delicious, although everything on their menu is. Everyone in our group had a great time at the tea and Mary, the teahouse owner, provides with the perfect setting to celebrate the new season of Downton Abbey. If you are ever near the Washington, DC area, make sure to plan an afternoon at Crest Hill. You will not regret it!.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy Birthday, Lizzie!

The Darjeeling Darlings are wishing Queen Elizabeth a Happy Birthday! 
Happy Birthday, Lizzie!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Lizzie on Holiday

For those of you who have followed the Darjeeling Darlings this year, you know that we pride ourselves in our Lizzie doll mascot. Lizzie accompanies us on all of our travels, tea room visits, and even helps approve new teas. However, in December Lizzie got the chance to do some of her own traveling sans Pippa and Jules as she crossed the pond to see the great United Kingdom.

Our good friend, Jurga at London Office Space extended the invitation to have Lizzie packed and flown to London for a few weeks of sight seeing all about the great city. We'd be fibbing if we said we weren't envious of her given that the Darjeeling Darlings have yet to see England! Jurga made sure she got to experience it all and we are so grateful for her hospitality. Lizzie even made the London Office Buzz page as the royal visitor from Texas! 

Buckingham Palace

Big Ben

The London Eye


Card Shopping

The Tower Bridge

Red Police Box

At the Queen Elizabeth Conference Center

Westminster Abbey

Leaving London!
Lizzie arrived back home safe and sound last week and is enjoying a warm February in San Antonio. London Office Space was even kind enough to send her back to the States with a couple boxes of royally themed English Breakfast tea and a lovely post card featuring Her Majesty the Queen. Hopefully our Little Majesty will be back in London one day to show the Darjeeling Darlings around!

Best Wishes from London Office Space

~ The Darjeeling Darlings

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Chah "Dragon Well" Longjing Tea: China's Finest?

            How many of you Tea Enthusiasts out there maintain that green tea is your favorite leaf of choice? Do you drink it every day or with a certain meal? Do you enjoy a particular type of green tea leaf only?

              These are the things I wondered as I taste tested Longjing green tea called "Dragon Well" by Chah out of the U.K. If you're a regular reader of the Darjeeling Darling blog, you know that green tea is not our....well, not our cup of tea. We typically stick to black, red, and white teas when it comes to reviewing a new brand. But if you're a regular reader, you also know that we are always game for trying something new. It really never hurts to try.

             Unless you're my Dad. His experience with any kind of tea is limited to the medicinal kind he drinks while battling a cold. For him, coffee is the only source of caffeine one needs because it's easily accessible and a machine makes it for you. But I've encouraged him to branch out. Unfortunately his attempts thus far have resulted in bad experiences that literally left a bad taste in his mouth. The first was our trip to the Tal-Y-Tara tea house in San Francisco....we all remember how poorly that turned out. The second occurred this past Monday and we met for our weekly lunch at our favorite sushi restaurant. It was a particularly wet, cold, and grey January day and yet Dad had walked to lunch from his office with just a rain coat on. (I'm convinced he does this so that I can give him a ride back to the office a couple blocks down and we can extend our lunchtime conversation). So, given the dreary weather conditions tea was a must with our food. However, being that this was a sushi restaurant they only served straight green tea in small porcelain "shot-like" glasses. Of course I knew what to expect with the light, grassy tea that I feel one must acquire a taste for, but dear Dad did not. The situation was only made worse by the absence of honey he wanted to sweeten the taste. But I can't say I didn't warn him. Now it is all too obvious that I need to start at the basics with him.

              The Chah tea company first began shopping tea leaves in Southeast Asia five years ago. They now carry some of England's favorite green tea leaves from Zhejiang, China. The "Dragon Well" in particular is low caffeine rolled tea leaf that is grown in the high elevations of the Chinese mountains. Speaking of which, did you know that expert tea tasters can distinguish the elevation tea leaves are grown at? They must have quite the set of taste buds. This Longjing green tea is actually said to the favorite among the people of China.

Antony Rogers, Director of Operations and Mandarin speaker, checking out tea leaves fresh on the farm

             That being said, I wish I could appreciate its taste more if it truly is the cream of the crop when it comes to green tea. I'm afraid I can't see paste the Alfalfa smell and light grass taste. However, there is a hint of a sweet aftertaste that I felt needed to be helped with the add-in of sugar and the smallest touch of honey. When drinking green tea, one has to keep in mind that even the longest brewing times of six to seven minutes will still only produce a light flavor matched by a light-colored liquor.
                 So, my conclusion is this: if you are a green tea fanatic and really know your green tea leaves, check out Chah's selection. You would probably find the "Dragon Well" blend to be of the finest quality and at least to your liking. If anything, we would love to have reader input to further our green tea education. However, if you are an occasional green tea drinker, I would stick to the brands and blends you already love. Unless of course you are looking to branch out-by all means, do branch out to the new and undiscovered!


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Downton Abbey


       One thing that I am pretty excited about in 2013 is season 3 of Downton Abbey! Today my mom and I went with some dear friends to a Downton Abbey Tea at Crest Hill Antiques and Tearoom to celebrate tonight's premier. I will post a review in the coming days but I did want to share the trivia that Crest Hill provided for us. So go ahead a test your memory from seasons 1 and 2!

1. In what part of England is Downton Abbey supposedly located?
a) Hampshire    b) London    c) Derbyshire    d) Yorkshire

2. Where are the Downton location scenes actually filmed?  
a) Crawley House   b) Highclere Castle   c) Blenheim Palace   d) Woburn Abbey   

3. What historical event first sets the series in motion?
a) Turn of the 20th century   b) Start of World War I    c) Sinking of the Titanic   d) The Irish Rebellion

4. What did Matthew Crawley do for a living before becoming the designated heir?
a) Solicitor    b) Engineer   c) Accountant     d) Architect  

5. What caused Lady Cora to suffer a miscarriage?
a) Hereditary illness    b) Fall down the stairs   c) Slipped on a soapy floor    d) Shock from bad news     

6. Which Crawley said the following: “Don’t be defeatist, dear; it’s very middle class.”
a) Lady Violet      b) Lady Mary      c) Lady Edith    d) Cousin Isabel           

7. Why does John Bates limp?
a) Birth defect   b) Shrapnel from the Boer War    c) Hunting accident   d) O’Brien tripped him

8. Thomas the Footman did all of the following, except:
a) Hide Robert’s dog   b) Steal wine from the cellar  c) Blackmail Bates  d) Dabble in black-market goods    

9. How did Vera Bates die?
a) A blow to the head    b) Drug overdose      c) Strangulation     d) Poison    

10. How did Lady Mary’s ex-fiance Sir Richard come by his fortune?
a) Family inheritance     b) Newspaper publishing      c) Political blackmail     d) Real estate investments

11. All of the following were stricken with Spanish Flu, except:
a) Carson    b) Lavinia          c) Mr. Mosely          d) Lady Cora

12. Who convinced Daisy to marry William on his deathbed?
a) Mrs. Patmore     b) Mrs. Hughes     c) William’s father   d) a, b & c

12. D

Remember to like our Facebook page so you are up to date on giveaways! 

- Jules

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Twelve Days of Darjeeling Christmas: Giveaway Winner

       The day has come! Tonight we announce the winner of the Twelve Days of Darjeeling Christmas Giveaway. We hope everyone enjoyed reading about our favorite Christmas tea gifts as much as we enjoyed sharing them with you. The Darjeeling would also like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year. We can't wait to see what 2013 brings!

     This afternoon, everyone who entered the contest by liking our page on Facebook had their name placed in a hat. After a thorough shaking of said hat, Jim Lipscomb's name was drawn as the winner. Jim will now receive a package of 100 T-Sac loose leaf tea filters as the prize from the Darjeeling Darlings. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do, Jim!

     See you in the next year!

   ~The Darjeeling Darlings


Monday, December 24, 2012

Twelve Days of Darjeeling Christmas Day 12: Christmas Cozy

         The day has finally come-the last day of Darjeeling Christmas! Christmas Eve is upon us and the Darjeeling Darlings can't wait to announce a winner for the giveaway tomorrow. But first, we have one more item to throw into the mix of potential gifts for the lucky reader.
          What better way to end the Twelve Days than by following up Day 11's gift in a lovely holiday fashion? Regardless of whether you already have a favorite tea pot at home or might receive one for Christmas a tea cozy is a necessity. But not only does a tea pot need an accompanying cozy to keep it warm, it needs a festive one to help celebrate the holiday cheer at tea time. So consider the Christmas Patchwork Tea Cozy, a handmade padded and lined quilt cozy that features an assortment of poinsettias, tartan plaid, holly, gold accents, and a cream satin ribbon to tie the cozy shut. It measures 8 inches high and 7 inches wide making it ideal for a 4 cup tea pot. Nothing sweetens the deal like free shipping though. Although the cozy may not arrive in time for this Christmas, you can store it away for next year's celebration...especially knowing that the world isn't supposed to end on December 21, 2013!

     There's only a few more hours to like us on Facebook to enter the giveaway so be sure follow the link to that like button. Stay tuned for the winner to be announced tomorrow!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Twelve Days of Darjeeling Christmas Day 11: Teapots All Around

      As we wrap up our Christmas shopping and get ready to celebrate the holiday with family and friends, there maybe one or two more people you still need to shop for. In the past holiday post, Pippa and I have listed several different products that maybe excellent gift choices for that tea lover in your life. One thing that we really have not touched on are teapots. A teapot can be a fantastic gift for any tea lover. They are so great because of all the different varieties available. Below I have listed a few of the most unusual ones I could find.

       The first one that I thought was pretty cool was one that combined the love of tea with the love of literature. The Books-and-Tea- Teapot is perfect for the book lover in your life!

      Another pot that I thought was pretty unusual is the Cosmetic Table Teapot! It brings makeup and tea together! 

        The last teapot I thought was very cool is the Watercolorist Landscape Teapot. It is perfect for any artist or art appreciator!   

    Remember that there are only two days left to enter our holiday give away! All you have to do is like our Facebook page! The winner will win one of the items from Twelve Days of Darjeeling Christmas! Check back tomorrow for Day 12!


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Twelve Days of Darjeeling Christmas Day 10: Tea Filters

     The Darjeeling Darlings are always looking for ways to make tea easier on the go and in a hurry. If there's a way to a way to avoid wet counter tops, burnt fingers, and inconvenient tea bag disposal we want to know about it. In previous posts we've discussed the Tuffy Steeper, the Tea Bag Buddy, and the Tea Stick-still all great options for tea bags and loose leaf teas. However, I would like to add one more to the list, that combined with the other options, will certainly cover all the tea preparation bases.

    The "T-Sac" tea filters are boxes of 100 disposable unbleached paper filters for loose leaf tea. Originally designed in Germany, these tea bag pouches allow you to pour in tea leaves, seal it, place into water for steeping, and then throw away. No more soppy tea leaves to do away with! What's more, unlike some steepers that allow for small tea leaves to slip through into your water, the T-Sac filter completely eliminates leaf escapees. My favorite part is that they also come in five different sizes depending on the volume of tea being steeped-that way you don't have to waste multiple filters on one pot of tea. For example, if you're only steeping enough tea each morning to fill your tumbler or to-go mug, Size 1 would be your best fit, whereas a Size 2 is for a 2-3 serving pot of tea. Just know that regardless of how many tea leaves you're steeping, there's a T-Sac size for it!

  As Christmas Day draws closer and we wrap up the Twelve Days of Darjeeling Christmas, remember to like our Facebook page to be entered in our give-away contest. Stay tuned for Day 11!


Friday, December 21, 2012

Twelve Days of Darjeeling Christmas Day 9: Christmas Tea Caddy

As we begin to wind down the holiday pre-season, you may be wishing you had a few more weeks to prepare for Christmas. I know that I sure do. I look back every year and wish I had just one more week to attend holiday parties, where I can wear that amazing Christmas sweater, or another week just to gather a few more gifts. I also shamefully admit that I hope for a few more viewings of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Well just because Christmas is a few days away does not mean you cannot enjoy the Christmas cheer everyday. Fortnum & Mason’s Christmas Tea Caddy is sure to keep the holiday spirit going for a few more weeks. This specialty blend of black tea is perfect for anytime of year and the limited edition tin is sure to remind you of all the special memories you made during the past season. So heres hoping that you have an excellent Christmas filled with memories and friends and that your holiday season ends up a little better than Clark Griswold’s.

Remember to join our Facebook page to be entered into our holiday give away. Only a few days left! Stay tune for Day 10!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Twelve Days of Darjeeling Christmas Day 8: Marrakech Tea Tins

    Sometimes it is possible to have too much tea. Boxes of Bigelow accumulate, bags of loose leaf lie scattered in a drawer, and single bags of different flavors get mixed up in the cabinet. Tea organization is clearly needed. But even for those who don't have trouble organizing their tea, it's still nice to have a place to put bags while adding a little decoration to the kitchen. Given either situation, consider a Marrakech Tea Tin from Teavana. These colorful tea tins hold up to five ounces of tea in an air-tight container that will be sure to keep your tea fresh until enjoyed. I admit that it is unfortunate that a specific pattern can't be specified upon ordering, however I personally wouldn't mind having any of them on my shelf. And for the price, why not order two? One for you and one for a friend-especially since they aren't limited to holding only tea in the kitchen. They could be used in a variety of ways. I personally keep my favorite morning tea (Irish Breakfast) in my tea tin, that way there's no mistaking when it's time to buy more!

    As Christmas Day draws nearer, be sure to like our Facebook page to be entered to win our Twelve Days of Darjeeling Christmas giveaway. Stay tuned for Day 9!


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Twelve Days of Darjeeling Christmas Day 7: Tea Bag Buddy

        One thing that I hate about using tea bags is when they fall into the tea. Well I have found a solution to this problem. Introducing the Color Changing Tea Bag Buddy from the Container Store. This neat tea gadget also changes colors while your tea is steeping making for a cool color show. When your tea is done brewing, the Tea Bag Buddy will squeeze out the extra water so you don't have any spills on your counter. Another great thing about the Tea Bag Buddy is that it is microwave and dishwasher safe. The Color Changing Tea Bag Buddy makes for a great stocking stuffer!

Stay tune for day 8 and remember to like our Facebook page to be entered into our holiday giveaway! 


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Twelve Days of Darjeeling Christmas Day 6: Better Late Than Never

     It's a few minutes before midnight, but Day 6 is not completely over yet! Unfortunately, my pre-Christmas activities have detained me longer today than expected and I have not had the chance to introduce today's Christmas item. So without further adieu....
      I think it's important that a list of Christmas tea gift recommendations include both men and women as potential gift receivers. While tea flavors are meant to be enjoyed by everyone and the Bubba tumbler doesn't discriminate (even against coffee drinkers!), I think today's tonight's gift is especially sleek for the male Tea Lover. Introducing the Tea Stick Infuser: a portable, fit-in-your-pocket, stainless steel, loose leaf tea infuser for that person who could use an office tea accessory. It's perfect for the car, brief case or hand bag, desk drawer, or even that "world's best boss" mug on your desk that holds all your writing utensils. It's easy to use, easy to clean, and easy to store without having to worry about whether it fits your/his/her tumbler or everyday mug. Just click open the chamber, fill it with tea leaves, close it back up, and place it in your hot water. And the best part is you can throw it in the dishwasher after a few uses without worrying about it coming apart. So if you have a husband, father, brother, uncle, nephew who loves tea or just have someone on your list who could use a handy tea infuser to simplify their life, consider the Tea Stick Infuser as a great stocking stuffer or present.

Be sure to like out Facebook page and stay tuned for Day 7 shortly!


Monday, December 17, 2012

Twelve Days of Darjeeling Christmas Day 5:RoyalTea Tea Bags

There is no doubt that the past year has been one for the royals! It seems that Kate Middleton graces the cover of People magazine every few weeks. And now that there is a royal baby on the way, I am sure the royal madness will continue well into the new year. So why not get into the royal spirit and give the tea lover in your life Royal Family Tea Bags. These tea bags would also make an entertaining hostess gift. This fun gift includes all of your favorite members of the Wales family. Any tea or fan of the royals would love to enjoy a delicious cup of black tea with a famous friend.

This tea is Lizzie approved! 

Remember to like our Facebook page and join our event to enter our holiday give away! 

- Jules

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Twelve Days of Darjeeling Christmas Day 4: Harney Jolly Christmas

           You didn't really think we'd get too far into the Darjeeling Twelve Days of Christmas without a mention of Harney & Sons, did you? Of course not! That's because we all agree on how wonderful Harney is. And we also all know that Harney isn't just for Tea Lovers, but non tea drinkers too. So spread the holiday tea cheer to everyone this year by giving the gift of a Harney holiday tea. Favorites include White Christmas, a white tea of vanilla and almond flavors, or Holiday Tea, a citrus and cinnamon filled black tea. Sometimes it's hard to choose between two favorites though. If you find yourself in such a situation have no fear, Harney offers a Holiday Duo gift set for you or even that person you have no clue what to get. Or you can take things a step further by selecting one of the tea and cookie gifts sets for either seasonal tea. Each set includes a tin of tea, a few delicious cookies from Tate's, and a bag of Christmas candy to be enjoyed by all. 

Hurry though! The Darjeeling Darlings aren't the only ones recommending Harney & Sons for tea gifts. Tea gift sets are limited in supply and express holiday shipping won't be available much longer. 

Be sure to stay tuned for Day 5!


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Twelve Days of Darjeeling Christmas Day 3: Bubba Thermos for Everyone

Giving gifts and (receiving) are all part of the Holiday season. Secret Santa can be a fantastic activity at any Christmas party. Yesterday, my group of college friends and I did our gift exchange before departing for winter break. A close friend really surprised me with a Bubba thermos. It is the perfect for any tea and coffee lover on your list this season.

A Bubba thermos is great for a tea lover because it keeps hot beverages hot for up to 6 hours. When I say hot, I truly mean hot. Three hours into my study session, my tea was still at the same temperature that it was this morning. It will also keep iced tea, or any other cold beverage, cold for 12 hours, making it a perfect year round thermos. So on those hot summer days, you can always have cold ice tea at your finger tips. Another feature to the thermos is that it is BPA free. The thermos also fits into most cup holders making it extremely convent for people on the go. Bubba offers a wide range of thermos in many different colors, so you are sure to find the perfect one for everyone on your list.

Remember to like the Darjeeling Darlings on Facebook and join our holiday event for a chance to win our favorite item from the Twelve Days of Darjeeling Christmas list. Stay tuned for Day 4!


Friday, December 14, 2012

Twelve Days of Darjeeling Christmas Day 2: Holiday Cookies Galore

      Many of us take on the job of hosting parties and get-togethers during the holidays. Those who have taken on that job know all about the various food and drink items to put together for guest's enjoyment. But what's a Christmas party or New Years get-together without a tray of delicious cookies? Most people seem to go one of either two ways. The first is the store bought route that allows cookies to be easily checked off the list. Nothing wrong with that. The second is baking your own cookies in the kitchen; an option that seems to only be taken by those who love baking or those with children who love baking. So what if you could have both options in one batch of cookies for your party this year? 

     Introducing the Flour Pot cookie company as the selected item for the second day of Darjeeling Christmas. The Flour Pot is a mother/daughter owned and operated bakery based out of Ambler, Pennsylvania.

 They have previously been featured in Health, Glamour, and House Beautiful magazines as well as Oprah's "O List," for their delicious, made from scratch, made to order, and hand decorated cookies. They design colorful cookies for all occasions-birthdays, weddings, party favors, and of course the holidays. Speaking of party favors, why not give out a few at your annual Christmas office party? The Flour Pot offers custom business logo cookie tins that will put your company's name and logo right on the cookie for clients, friends, and business partners in attendance to take home with them. Smart idea on your part. Or what if you don't want to give up the tradition of decorating holiday cookies with your kids? The Flour Pot also offers a cookie decorating kit for just that reason. Or maybe you just want to skip the hassle of baking batches of cookies but still want to serve something tasty and festive for dessert. The Flour Pot lets you have your cake and eat it too. And with customers like Ralph Lauren and Saks Fifth Avenue you know they've got to be good!    

Remember to like the Darjeeling Darlings on Facebook and join our holiday event for a chance to win our favorite item from the Twelve Days of Darjeeling Christmas list. Stay tuned for Day 3!


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Twelve Days of Darjeeling Christmas Day 1: Sugar Plum Spice

Christmas traditions such as tree trimming, decorating sugar cookies, and building gingerbread houses all make the season bright. One of the many Christmas traditions in my family is excellent tea in our stockings. My mom started putting in a holiday box of tea in my stocking several years ago and now I can't imagine Christmas morning without it. Out of all the boxes I have received over the years,Sugar Plum Spice from Celestial Seasonings is by far my favorite. Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed all the other holiday favorites such Candy Cane Lane, Gingerbread Spice, and Nutcracker Spice but for some reason Sugar Plum Spice has a special place in my Holiday Season. So this Christmas when you can’t figure out what to get the that last person on your list, head to Target and pick up a box!

Remember to like our Facebook page and join the Twelve Days of Darjeeling Christmas event to be enter into our holiday giveaway! We will announce the winner on December 25th!  

- Jules

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Art of Tea: Joseph Walsh, Candy Stores, and Brandy

When Food and Wine magazine lists your tea in their top holiday gift guide you know you have a product that is a cut above the rest. That is exactly what Art of Tea has, a fantastic selection of teas. Art of Tea is located in Los Angeles, California and was founded in 1996. Steven Schwartz, the CEO and founder, wanted to create an organic tea company that was a leader in Fair Trade Tea and has successfully done so with Art of Tea. All of the teas are carefully blended specially by the company so the consumer can enjoy the highest quality tea. One of the best aspects of the company is the wide and varied selection they have to offer. Art of Tea carries so many unique blends that even the Darjeeling Darlings couldn’t pick a favorite, but we certainly enjoyed the tasting process in search of one! 

            “I am a huge fan of black tea and the “1896” blend was just up my alley. “1896” was created in honor of author Joseph Walsh. Walsh was one of the first people to publish a book on tea blending in 1896. I loved this tea so much that I ended up drinking the whole bag’s worth of leaves in 2 days! It was bold and rich, so it gave me just the kick that I needed while writing an English paper (the paper was on Jane Austen, so it seemed fitting). My first impression of “1896” was how flavorful it was. I could really taste the apple cinnamon coming through as the dominant flavor, which was then smoothed by the taste of white peach. I would definitely recommend “1896” for any avid black tea lover.

            Secondly, I have to admit I was a little skeptical of trying the blend “Chocolate Monkey.” For some reason the taste of hot bananas just does not appeal to me. Well, I should not have judged a tea packet by its cover. I was shocked by just how much I enjoyed it. The chocolate and banana worked so well together with the pink peppercorn to surprisingly create a delightful dessert tea. It had the perfect amount of sweetness, which left my cup without the need of supplemental sugar. This tea would be sure to prove as a dessert favorite among guests at your next dinner party!”


            “Browsing and sampling teas from the Art of Tea was an absolute field day. I felt like a kid in the candy store. You remember what it was like, right? You walk in with eyes as big as saucers and gaze from wall to wall at all the possibilities. You’re greeted by your old favorites and intrigued by the unknown. Gummy bears wave hello while full cylinders of European chocolate welcome you to a new frontier. And then there’s everything in between. Hard candy, soft candy, the sours, the sweets, pre-packaged Mars bars, yogurt-covered pretzels, licorice, sea-salted this, caramel-filled that, lemon drops, cola bottles, peppermints, malt balls, and jelly beans. Where do you begin? 

Much like the candy store, it’s hard to pass up the teas that jump out with color. In this case that would be the “Halo” and “Birds of Paradise” blends. Much like their name implies, these aren’t your average earthly loose-leaf teas. Instead they are quarter-sized tea “bombs” of green and pink leaves rolled into a heavenly little ball.  “Halo” is a white tea of amaranth and jasmine ingredients followed by a fun surprise of blueberry and peach taste. “Birds of Paradise” is a gentle blend of white and green tea with a delightful floral aroma. The flavor is a simple plum that is neither fruity nor bland, but rather mellow. However, even my best attempts at descriptions won’t do these teas justice. All I can say is that if I were a dyeing woman, I would drink one of these as my last taste of tea. 

The fun continues with the “Amoré” blend of white tea, peppermint, spearmint, rose, and lavender. It is described as an “late night elixir or after meal pick up to refresh mind and enhance mood.” They had me at ‘elixir’… I mean, the whole thing sounds like a much-needed helping hand to the midnight oil burning college student. “Yes, please” for me!  And as you can imagine, there are lots of things to be tasted within this concoction, the most dominant being lavender and rose. It’s tasty, it’s refreshing, and I think it’s safe to give it some credit for the ‘A’ I received on my Social Psychology paper that was written at an inhumane hour of the wee morning. 

A couple other honorable mentions were “Caramelized Pear” and “Earl Grey Cremé.” “Pear” is a straightforward, herbal, caffeine-free, loose-leaf tea that would make an excellent desert drink.  I like it because there are no surprises; just a simple caramel and pear flavor much like the gummy bears in the candy store we talked about earlier. The same is true of “Earl Grey,” it’s the classic Early Grey you love with a touch of French Vanilla. However, this tea makes me extra happy because it’s identical in taste to one of my favorite drinks at Starbucks, the “London Fog.” The “London Fog” is simply an Early Grey tea latté with a couple shots of vanilla syrup. With Art of Tea’s Early Grey in my tea repertoire, I can have the “London Fog” taste without being filled up by a latté and at a much more cost efficient price! 

London Fog: Earl Grey tea, steamed milk, and a touch of Vanilla syrup. Nectar of the gods in a cup!

The last tea I must speak my mind on is the “1896” blend because it truly is a notch above most black tea/rooibos hybrids. Just by looking at the black and red leaves, you can determine that it’s a mix of black and African bush teas. But you can’t tell that it also is composed of honeybush, safflower, hibiscus, and rose ingredients that blend all too well for an incredible tea. I’ve talked before of my admiration of rooibos and honeybush teas, but that isn’t necessarily saying much. What I think makes “1896” special is it’s aroma that I can only describe as being kin to a glass of brandy-but subtler of course. Its taste is strong from black leaves and sweetened by rooibos. If Rhett Butler drank tea, this would be his go-to. In fact, I would imagine “1896” to be a favorite among men in general because of it’s bold and prominent flavor that opposes faint and subtle herbal teas.”

Maybe Rhett Butler didn't drink morning tea, but Clark Gable did!


  The Art of Tea could not be more appropriately named. They truly have made an art out of blending teas of the finest flavors and tastes. It's no wonder so many of their teas have won awards. The Darjeeling Darlings only scratched the surface though. Pop on over to the Art of Tea store and have a look around at their wonderful selection. Whether you prefer floral herbal teas or strong black teas, there is something for everyone. Better yet, if you do find something you like, take 15% off your purchase total* with the coupon code DD15. Regardless of your tastes, you’ll be sure to love what Art of Tea has to offer-they’re Darjeeling Darling approved and recommended! 


~The Darjeeling Darlings  

*Discount excludes Tea of the Month, gift cards, wholesale orders, and cannot be combined with any other coupon.