Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Tea Spot: Healthy Tea, Handy Steepers, and a Holiday Sweepstakes

There’s nothing the Darjeeling Darlings love more than a tea company that gives tea enthusiasts the opportunity to buy quality tea while supporting good causes. If you’re like us, the holidays mean prime tea season. The cold winter weather is in full swing, family and friends are visiting, finals are just around the corner, and shopping needs to be done-now is not the time to be short on tea! And how about those last couple of people you still need to buy a Christmas gift for? Do you know of stockings that need more stuffing? If so, we encourage you to check out The Tea Spot based out of Boulder, Colorado. 

Maria Uspenski founded the company after she battled cancer and found tea to be a great aide to her health. Now, The Tea Spot guarantees that 10% of all profits are made into donations for cancer wellness. Here are a couple of other reasons to check them out though. If you happen to see any tea or Steepware product that you like, you can enter the promo code darlindarjeeling to receive 15% off your order from now until December 1st. Furthermore, The Tea Spot has an ongoing holiday sweepstakes for two people to win free tea for all of 2013! All you have to do is like their Facebook page, click on the “Holiday Contest Enter To Win ” box under the like button, and fill out the short entry form. Be sure to check your email afterwards for more details too! If you want to double your chances, scroll down The Tea Spot’s News Feed and look for the November 1st post about the contest. There you can answer the question “What inspires you this holiday season?” and see what other tea lovers had to say.  

Still not convinced The Tea Spot is worth checking out? See what the Darlings have to say about their Tea Spot experience and Steepware! 

“I really like to go outside of the box with tea flavors. Don't get me wrong, I love my Earl Grey but sometimes I want something different. Anytime that I run into a unique flavor, I make sure to purchase it. That is why I was so excited to try Pink Rose Lemonade blended by Tea Spot. It seemed like it would do the trick to brighten up a long day of studying. The need to drink a cup of Pink Rose Lemonade came during a Big Bang Theory marathon, um I mean during a serious study session. I decided to make a pot of the tea for a friend and myself. We both were pleasantly surprised when we first tried it. It had a natural bitterness to it so I did stir in a little sugar. The mint flavor added a nice touch to prevent the overpowering of lemon and lavender. The tea is naturally caffeine free so it is great for a late night treat. A tin of Pink Rose Lemonade can be purchased for $12. Overall, Ariel and I really enjoyed the tea and can't wait to make it again for a study break!

The Tea Spot also manufactures a line called Steepware. One of their best selling products is the Tuffy Tea Steeper. I was so excited when I received my green Tuffy. I have never had the best luck with steepers in the past so the Tuffy was an answer to my prayers. The Tuffy is made of silicone so it's heat resistant and shaped to fit most cups and travel mugs. Being an extremely busy college student, I do not always (never) have time to sit down an enjoy a cup of tea. The Tuffy allows me to brew loose leaf tea while I am getting ready to go to class and I do not have to worry about the tea leaves leaking into my mug. Cleaning it could not be more easy. I just dump out the leaves and rinse it. I think one of the best things about the steepers is that when you’re on the go you can collapse it and throw it in your bag when finished. The Tuffy comes is many different colors and retailed for about $9. It is the perfect stocking stuffer or hostess gift for this holiday season. Now that I have started using this product, I do not know what I would do without it!”


“I have my favorite types of black tea that will always be go-tos for me. But I love finding new ones to branch out to just as much. The Tea Spot’s “Climber's High” and “Shagadelic English Breakfast” are two new favorites for me. “Climber's High” is a serious black tea that produces a dark liquor and a strong, sweet aroma. It’s made up of ginger root, cinnamon, licorice, clove, and peppermint. The first sips produce an enjoyable ginger and cinnamon taste with a slightly minty finish. This tea isn’t just for taste though. Many people drink it to help with major altitude changes and the negative effects it can have on the respiratory and circulatory system. I can’t wait to try it myself when I hit the slopes this ski season. “Shag English Breakfast” is an appropriate name for the fun spin put on English Breakfast tea. It’s composed of four different black tea leaf types to create a mellower English Breakfast. Don’t let the taste fool you though! A cup of this over breakfast will surely kick start your day. What’s even better is that you can let this tea steep for five or six minutes to create a more robust flavor without making it bitter. It’s still just as gentle to your delicate taste buds. My favorite thing about it though is it’s aroma that smells of sweet hay. Every first sip reminds me of early mornings at the stables. The last tea I tried was “Lady Lavender.” I’m not a fan of lavender flavors, but I did enjoy this one because of it’s balanced and soft flavor. The overpowering seasoning of straight lavender is a taste I have yet to acquire. That’s why I was pleased to experience a first sip of lavender tea reined in by the goodness of bergamot. Add a bit of cream and sugar and you’ve got a lovely afternoon tea! 

The Tuffy Tea Steeper is basically a small gift from heaven. Some of my favorite teas aren’t sold in steeping bags and consequently require a steeper. But being on the go all the time as a full time college student doesn’t allow me the time, or patience for that matter, to brew loose leaf tea. That’s where the Tuffy steeper comes in as the genius necessity it is for any tea enthusiast. It’s handy, it cuts out the mess, and fits all of my mugs and tumblers. Every morning I choose my poison, put it in my Tuffy steeper, pour hot water into my tumbler, and rush out the door. By the time I get where I’m going, my tea’s ready and I only have to dump the steeper’s contents. Every tea drinker needs one for Christmas! “


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Tea and Sympathy: The Sick List

            It’s November and we are well underway with autumn followed by winter knocking at the back door. For many of us that means changing leaves, chilly weather, and warm sweaters. For others it just means flu season, tissues, and tea. Well, for the Darjeeling Darlings tea is year-round regardless of the season or our state of health, but in this and many other under-the-weather cases, tea has become a best friend for us Sickly. When you’re sick with the flu that’s going around the office or you’ve finally caught that respiratory bug that’s taken down family members, tea is now on the list of things to grab from the drug store as you trudge home. You’ve sneezed 50 billions times in the last few hours, your throat hurt every time you swallow, you head is feeling foggier by the minute, and all you want to do is sleep. So you need tea…and a box of decongestants, but also tea. You may not know it, but tea is going to become a good friend of yours during this time of suffering. It’s going to soothe your scratchy throat, it’s going to help you fall asleep a little easier, or it’s going to lend a helping hand to your immunity. Or maybe it’s just going to keep you warm and alert while you finish a paper in your damp dorm room that’s probably at least partially responsible for this yucky cold you picked up. So which kind do you select?

            Fear not Friends, because I have a few answers for this question that will help you out the next time you are under the weather. I present the “Tea and Sympathy Sick List” which is made up of medicinal and tasty teas to hold your hand and help you feel better during sickness and the lack of health. Mind you, this list isn’t about the highest quality, out of this world tasting tea. If that were what I was going for I would recommend anything from Harney & Sons and in all likelihood one would have to wait a few days for it to be shipped. So this is a list of conveniently located teas that will get the job done when you’re sick. They can be found at your corner drug or grocery store and aren’t outrageously priced. But first, let’s take a moment to point out a few “sick tea” basics.
            Green and white teas are some of the best teas you can drink for your health because of their antioxidants. We touched on antioxidants last time but didn’t discuss exactly what it is about them that are good for us. It starts with how green and white tea leaves are processed. Unlike black tea leaves that are fermented, green tea leaves aren’t which leaves them with a higher concentration of catechin and polyphenol antioxidants…30-40% to be exact. You see, our bodies have these things called “free radicals” that develop from exposure to toxins and pollutants that break down the structure of the proteins that make up ourcells. Free radicals destroy DNA, alter our cells, and even kill them. One result? Wrinkles. If I remember correctly from Chem 101, free radical proteins can’t actually be repaired but they can be prevented and even “patched-up” by chemical substitutes like collagen. So drinking green tea more so helps your immunity by preventing damage to it. Don’t let that stop you from drinking green and white teas while you’re sick though! More often than not, green teas are infused with other beneficial vitamins you need, which is nice.
Microscopic image of a free radical

Then there are the other ingredients that are helpful for sickness like ginger, honey, peppermint, and chamomile. Ginger, peppermint, and chamomile are good for the stomach. Keep this is mind if you take a round of antibiotics that might alter the good bacteria in your intestines. Until it returns to normal, ginger and chamomile will help calm stomach pains. Lemon and honey are great for soothing sore throats, whether it’s in the tea or you add it as a fixin yourself. Lastly, it's important to decide whether or not you want caffeine in your tea, and I suppose that depends on whether or not you're taking a true sick day. Just know that green, white, rooibos, and most herbal teas aren't going to contain caffeine unless they're paired with something like Early Grey. However, that's still going to be low on the caffeine scale. So below, you’ll find the list of teas that contains all of these great ingredients that will hopefully get you back on your feet in good time and taste.


Until next time, cheers to good health!