Saturday, December 27, 2014

Dobra Tea Pittsburgh: "Memories of Prague," Chai, and mochi

Today I went to Dobra Tea in Pittsburgh for the first time since it opened years ago. I loved it! Look through the menu before you go because there are many choices.

The staff were really in to tea. It's a relaxed atmosphere with open seating in shared seating areas (there are a number of different "rooms") and a little bell to ring if you need service. I must have been the only non-hipster there.

There are so many tea options, and not the cutesy tea blends I usually go for, but good world tea served in their traditional ways.

They also serve bubble tea! Instead of too-sweet syrup, they use the good stuff: matcha, oolong, or tulsi (those three were on the printed menu but the website lists more).

I'm so excited to go back! Who wants to come?

Above: Memories of Prague (black Assam leaf tea mixed with bitter chocolate).

The white blob is the powder on a mochi red bean paste treat! Imagine mochi ice cream but with sweet goop in place of the ice cream.

Not pictured: the spiced chai with milk in a ceramic mug! It's the best chai I've had yet!

Here's the rest of our chosen seating area after our cohabitants had left. Look at all those teapots! The glass one has a flame under it. Wonder what they all chose?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Classic Chai review (#32)

Flavored black tea
Margaret's Fine Imports 
$2.99/2 oz

Ingredients: Indian black tea, ginger root, cinnamon, green cardamom, vanilla flavor.

Whew! Hello cloves!

Ginger is most noticeable in the dry tea, but the steeped tea tastes mostly of cloves. A few friends and I have declared the dry tea smells like chocolate, but that just might be a combination of ginger and clove.

This chai doesn't have the pepper that many chai teas do, making it more Christmas spice/sweet.

I'll still be on the lookout for The Best Chai Ever award, but this is a great holiday spiced tea to enjoy over Christmas. I might try adding more cinnamon to it next time.

Also, did you know that cloves are the unopened buds from a clove evergreen tree? Mind. Blown.

Christmas packaging at Margaret's! (Tissue paper my own.)

Tomorrow I'm going to Dobra Tea for birfday/Xmas Eve!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Garden of Eden tea review (#31)

Flavored green/white tea
Margaret's Fine Imports
$4.50/2 oz

Ingredients: China Sencha, Kukicha, Pai Mu Tan (80%), dragonfruit pieces (dragonfruit, sugar), lemongrass, flavoring, freeze-dried kiwi and raspberry pieces, pomegranate arils.

This is the dry tea you smell through your nose, exhale through your mouth, and repeat. The scent is absolutely heavenly with dragonfruit and kiwi. I don't know how it achieves this, but it smells somewhat peppery/spicy despite its light sweet fruit. The green and white teas in it are very delicate and light.

Amazingly delicious iced, with a gorgeous green color. It's good hot too, with such a light flavor it's barely there! I might add more tea next time I steep. But, it's soft like a white tea should be.

It's blended at Margaret's by an employee, which is really cool. She used pomegranate arils, how unusual!

This tea smells so good, I could eat it!

It really opens up in steeping.

Next time I'll review a classic.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Candy Cane tea (#30)

Flavored black tea
Margaret's Fine Imports
$3.50/2 oz

Ingredients: Black tea, peppermint leaves, candy cane pieces--maybe peppermint oil too?

The dry tea smells amazing! With peppermint leaves AND candy cane pieces, it has that little extra touch of sweet.

It could use more of a vanilla taste, though, because the steeped tea is intensely peppermint! To counteract the peppermint, I've been mixing it with this basic chai.

This candy cane tea is great for the Christmas season: good for sinuses and surprisingly warming, too!

Christmas colors!

A warm brown liquor.

I just adore holiday tea.

I've been reviewing so many black teas lately--time for a change. Next time I'll review the softest tea you could imagine in paradise.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Mad Hatter Tea review (#29)

Black tea
Mad Hatter Tea
£18.60/40 tea bags

Ingredients: "Mad Hatter Tea is a perfect balance of colour and flavour combined together to tantalise taste buds that simply revive the spirit, enrich the mood & adds peppiness and cheerfulness to the substance of life."

This is the smoothest black tea ever. EVER! Never bitter, never weak. I adore this tea, and I can't get enough of Mad Hatter Tea's twitter handle.

This box was a gift. It's only sold in the UK so... I have to beg for more! I'll ask the steampunks.

A taste of wonderland!

No tea ball? No problem.

That color!

My box has a rip... I think I need a new one.

Next time I'll review a Christmas candy tea.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Chestnut black tea review (#28)

Flavored black tea
Margaret's Fine Imports
$5.99/4 oz

Ingredients: Premium Sri Lanka black tea flavored with roasted chestnuts.

I LOVE this tea. The dry tea doesn't particularly smell like much, but the end result after the flavor has opened up is really worth going out of your way for! The tea is subtly earthy and nutty with a smooth, sweet, almost maple flavor. I can still smell it from my empty cup.

Margaret's Fine Imports said people had been begging for the chestnut tea again, and now I absolutely see why. I've bought it a second time, in a large amount.

Delicious hot with milk. A wonderfully warming tea for holidays.

Rich, warm color!

The color in this photo is a bit washed out, but here's a closeup of the tea leaves.

Next time I'll review the smoothest black tea ever. EVER!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Apple Walnut Cream Cake tea review (#27)

Herbal tea
Margaret's Fine Imports
$3.99/2 oz

Ingredients: Apple pieces, marshmallows (glucose/fructose syrup, sugar, water, gelatin, corn starch, natural vanilla flavoring), apple slices, walnuts, flavoring.

Happy Thanksgiving days! This tea is SO good! It's perfect for the colder end of fall.

I thought I was tired of apple tea, but this one has the word "cake"! It looks like trail mix and smells like perfume--like a surprisingly good-smelling nail polish? The huge pieces of dried apple and marshmallows are so fun! The tea is a beautiful rich yellow.

The steeped tea looks cloudy yet thin, but the flavor is sweet and full. I don't know if this is a term applied to tea, but I'm going for it: it has a really nice mouthfeel. A full-bodied mouthfeel. It's delicious!

Double the time and use really hot water for steeping, because it takes a little longer for the dried fruit to open up. 

And look! The kitchen under construction now has a windowsill.

So. Much. Fun.

The marshmallow melts away while steeping.

Don't forget to use really hot water!

Next, I'll review chestnuts roasting on an open fire.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Lady Londonderry tea review (#26)

Flavored black tea
Margaret's Fine Imports
$3.50/2 oz

Ingredients: Luxury black tea, freeze-dried strawberry, lemon balm, calendula and sunflower petals, natural flavors.

The interwebs has attributed Lady Londonderry as Princess Diana's favorite tea. I wouldn't be surprised if she loved it! Named after society hostess Edith Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Marchioness of Londonderry, the tea evokes graceful propriety. It's calm, sophisticated, delicate.

The black tea is soft and the strawberry and lemon flavors are  refreshing. It has a delicious scent pre-steeping and also from the hot cup.

I love it as an afternoon tea with milk or honey, but it's also great iced because of the fruit flavor! Don't oversteep; it's a light tea.

Pink-ish and yellow pieces... you can see the strawberry is more pink when I bought it (below).

My next review is on an AWESOME fall tea for Thanksgiving. It's really unusual!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Peach Momotaro Artisan tea review (#25)

Flavored white tea
$18.98/2 oz
Ingredients: Floral white tea infusion, "soft peachy undertones."

I've never had blooming tea before! It's fun to try. The white tea and peach flavors are really light. Don't let the tea sit in the water too long, or it'll get bitter. It was nice to see it floating in the cup like seaweed while I drank it, though.

Before steeping.

Opening up slowly.

Pretty flower!

Next time I need to try it in this glass pot meant for blooming tea from Teaposy!

Come back for a very sophisticated tea, indeed.

What's your favorite flavor of blooming tea?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Chocolate chai black tea review (#24)

Flavored black tea
$2.05/2 oz

Ingredients: Black tea, ginger root, green cardamom, chocolate chips, chocolate flavor.

This chai is awesome! The chocolate is perfect. Not too much that it overwhelms the other flavors, but just enough to make the tea sweet and smooth. No sugar needed.

For some spice, there are full cardamom pods that add some interest to the flavor. I came across these same cardamom pods in a chicken masala dish recently! Don't eat the pod whole... just try it in tea.

This tea is very fragrant. The rain outside is falling sideways, and it's turning to snowy sleet over fall leaves near the Point of Pittsburgh, but I'm fine inside with my heated pad and chocolate chai. I really want to try Prestogeorge's other chais... in my quest for the perfect chai!

Whole chocolate chips and cardamom.

Foam while steeping.

Amazing price. You can see how far along the kitchen is, which is not enough.

Come back next time for a fun flowering tea!

What do you think of chocolate in tea?

Friday, October 31, 2014

Chocolate chip black tea review (#23)

Flavored black tea
$3.25/4 oz

Ingredients: Chocolate flavored Oriental black tea, chocolate chips.

It's the final one... the last 23 Teas of October! (#23)

Chocolate for Halloween! It looks like the pieces of black tea are actually coated with chocolate! You can even hear the chocolate coating sliding against itself as you pour the dry tea.

It has little chocolate chips, which melt and infuse in the tea. Steep this tea for longer than you usually might. It takes some time for the liquor to thicken.

The chocolate smell is very noticeable and the flavor comes through with some nuttiness. I'm actually tasting the chocolate  more as it cools. Delicious with milk. A perfect dessert/snack tea for a long afternoon when you're craving sugar. And I plan on having a lot of it today.

Chocolate-coated pieces and chocolate chips!

So cute in the tea ball.

Yellow liquor deepens to a warm brown.

Come back next week. This it the last 23 Teas of October review, but I'll have more reviews in November!

It's your LAST DAY to win!
(Win tea! Rules here

Happy Halloween! Be safe.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Apple Caramel Almond black tea review (#22)

Flavored black tea
$4/4 oz

Ingredients: Indian black tea, almond chips, apple pieces, and apple caramel and almond flavors.

It's The 23 Teas of October! (#22) 

A smooth, satisfying tea! You'd think apple and almond wouldn't work together, but it's nutty and darkly sweet. It smells like candy!

The almond is the most noticeable flavor to the nose, but the caramel softens the taste, and the apple is a quiet sidekick. It has huge slices of almond, a few pieces of dried apple, and tight curls of black tea that pack a lot of taste. This is a new fall morning favorite. Great instead of Halloween sugar... or in addition to it!

Come back tomorrow for the best Halloween flavor of all time: chocolate!

(Win tea! Rules here

Ready for Halloween?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Bouquet of Flowers No. 108 tea review (#21)

Kusmi Tea
Flavored black tea

Ingredients: Black tea, bergamot, citrus fruits, flowers.

It's The 23 Teas of October! (#21)

Fascinating! I've only had bergamot in traditional black earl grey tea before. This Kusmi Tea from Paris was fun to try. I received a Kusmi box from a coworker who wants to use up tea before she can reasonably buy more... happy to help!

Bouquet of Flowers No. 108 has bergamot with citrus and flowers, which makes it invigorating but refreshing for the afternoon. The dominant flavor is citrus.

The acidity is very noticeable so I added a little sugar. The caffeine is noticeable and definitely perking me up in the first sip, which is good, because I still have editing to do.

Bergamot and citrus are nice together. Ahmad Tea in London (@ahmadteaUK) recommends adding a squeeze of lemon to earl grey; sounds great!

I just love the cloth tea bag that's stitched shut. I've never seen that before! I don't use tea bags too often, because they usually have smaller and lesser pieces, but these cloth bags have nice large pieces. Just as large as what you'd use in a tea ball.

Pretty packaging.

Steeping instructions on the tea bag. Smart!

Pretty yellow color.

Outside of the box.

So many options!

A closer look reveals large pieces of tea.

Come back tomorrow for a great Halloween flavor: caramel apple!

(Win tea! Rules here

What do you think of bergamot?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Ti Kuan Yin Special Oolong tea review (#20)

Oolong tea
$3.30/2 oz

This was my first time steeping oolong the "right" way: not expecting much from the first steep, and enjoying the 2nd and 3rd times.

The first steep, which in the future I won't even drink: the tea had such a subtle taste that it was like slightly flavored water. I let it soak in cold water for a few seconds before this steep (like rice), but I will skip that in the future when I just dump out the first steep.

There was hardly any color while steeping. It was just the tiniest bit earthy. It wasn't bitter in the slightest, and the leaves did open up during the first steep. Make sure the water isn't too hot. The caffeine is refreshing.

The second steep was my favorite. It had twice the flavor, nice and earthy! I added milk for an even smoother taste, and the tea is such a light green that the milk overtook the color.

The third steep: the flavor got even more gritty. It was fun to see the tea leaves open up so much. This oolong tea would be fantastic with sushi, and it yields cup after cup!

Tea before any steeping.

First steep: hardly any color.


First steep: tea has expanded a little. 


Second steep: tea is noticeably taking on more water. 


After the second steep. 


Opens up nicely.


Third steep: huge pieces! 


After the third steep. 


Pretty color after the second steep. 

Amazing price for such a high-quality tea.

Come back tomorrow for a fancy tea from France.

(Win tea! Rules here

Have you tried this method of steeping oolong before?