Using an Electric Tea Kettle

OK, I'm really bad about spending gift cards.  I want to wait for the PERFECT thing, or a sale or something to truly take advantage of the, well, free money.

So last year I bought this tea kettle from Russell Hobbs on a great deal at Macy's (using the gift card, of which there is still some $$.)

I am finally using it. Tonight. Over a year later. {insert laughter here}

Here are some pics. I brewed up Peppermint tea from Teavana, because it's late in the evening and I love peppermint when I've got a migraine (which is slowly turning into just a headache). It works pretty well. It doesn't have special times for certain types of tea, but I like that I can brew up a whole pot of peppermint tea, keep it warm and nurse my headache. (I will be watching reruns of Still Standing to help as well.)

Need more info? Check it out on Amazon.com: Electric Kettle by Russell Hobbs.

Russell Hobbs Kettle before (please ignore wine glass)
With Peppermint Tea a'brewin'

Sales, a $12 teapot, and coming attractions...

Hi all,
I've been out of it for the past few days dealing with a marathon migraine - from Thurs to today (Sat). I still have a slight headache but the migraine is gone. For now. So apologies on neglecting the blog!

A few items to note:
Score 25% off at Chi Tea for three days only (thru March 8). I haven't tried their teas yet, but there is a great selection - I think I'll have to treat myself! If you've got any faves I should try, let me know. :) Oh, the code for 25% off your order is: 25OFFCHI. Sign up for their newsletter so you can score these deals too. :)

Home Essentials Rose Teapot
From Stage Stores
If you're in the market for a new teapot - or are shopping early for Mother's Day - check out this bargain: a $12 teapot with free shipping:

Use coupon code: 33333 to score free shipping. Sweet! (And thanks to my husband for finding this deal. Honestly if you need to find something for sale, my man's got the skills.)

OK tea fans. I'm back to work on the blog so you can expect the following in the next few days:
-Company profile on Joy's Teaspoon
-Short post about Tea Trade - it's not as scary as I first thought, and I've been converted... I'll explain how. :)
-More tea finds
-Post about my custom blends - Adagio and the ones I blend myself.


Mirror, Mirror

I've decided to give Tea Trade a chance - Pete, one of the creators, was polite enough to accept an interview and explain how the site works. Stay tuned for that article very soon...

I will be mirroring my blog on Tea Trade to reach more audiences.

Now, a note about the selling aspect. More information will be available soon, as I am writing an article about the site and Pete will be posting FAQ as an FYI. I will participate in the selling - however, I will not sell teas acquired in a tea swap. I still can't shake the weird feeling I get from that. (Sorry Pete.)

Instead I will sell my own blends such as Yay Me (soon to be renamed), and some "leftover" Adagio signature blends. I've gotten requests from folks on steepster.com for some of my blends, so I figured I would do this. The blends will be inexpensive, don't worry - mainly just need to cover the cost of shipping. I hope to begin posting blends by April/May.

 I still want to participate in Tea Swaps and the like. So if you want to swap teas, check out my cupboard at steepster.com, as I update it regularly - and let me know! :)

Happy Sipping!

NovelTeas - Random Thoughts

I regularly drink tea and update my tealog at steepster.com:

Am I being too nice? I love tea so I tend to give higher ratings. Just wondering...

RealiTEA: Tea in the News: Honest Tea uses Coca-Cola acquisition to its advantage

There is always something new and exciting in the realm of tea, one of the world's oldest beverages: new companies, new products, or just a new way of using tea/tea leaves. That's where RealiTEA comes in.

RealiTEA: Week of March 4, 2011
Maryland-based company, Honest Tea, was recently bought by conglomerate Coca-Cola, and already has plans on how to reach new audiences.

According to a press release from Honesttea.com, Coca-Cola acquired a minority stake in the company back in 2008, but had the option to acquire the company in its entirety later on. This week Coca-Cola decided to buy the remaining portion of the company.

But don't think the takeover will result in the end of Honest Tea. In fact, the company is developing a new beverage brewed from cocoa beans, according to an article in the Atlantic Journal Constitution. The article also points out plans to create a lemonade sweetened with stevia.

Honest Tea was founded over 10 years ago and continues to be one of the nation's leading organic bottled tea companies, according to the release and the Web site. Honest Tea gets its name from the ingredient list of their product: tea and natural flavors are the only components in the beverage. The company insists on adding no artificial sweeteners to their products.

On a personal note, I discovered Honest Tea in college, and enjoyed the alternative to soda when writing research papers, or I'd reward myself with one after completing an exam. I've been a fan since.

If you haven't tried Honest Tea yet, I'd recommend starting with the Mango Green Tea or Peach Black Tea which are available in recycled plastic bottles. There are other varieties in the product line such as Honest Ade (I recommend Orange Mango with Mangosteen) and Honest Tea in glass bottles, which includes Moroccan Mint tea (the very first Honest Tea I ever tried), as well as kid-friendly versions.

Sources/for more information:

SerendipiTEA Post 1: Invention of Chocolate Chip Cookies

Serendipity is defined as discovering/developing/inventing one thing while trying to discover/develop/invent something else. SerendipiTEA, on this blog, is interesting tidbits about tea and tea-related items I've read about during my research of one of the world's oldest - and my favorite - beverage.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Like to eat cookies with your tea (or just in general)? Well according to Wikipedia sources, there is actually one woman responsible for the first chocolate chip cookie - of the Toll House variety. And, the cookie itself hasn't been around all that long. I can't imagine a world without cookies, but for Ruth Wakefield there was such a time.

Check this out: Ms. Wakefield was a baker and original owner at the Toll House Inn, no longer in existence due to a terrible fire in the 1980s. But during her tenure there, she developed the chocolate chip cookie. According to Ideafinder.com, Ms. Wakefield developed the chocolate chip cookie accidentally while trying to enhance her famous butter drop cookies. She added bits of Nestle chocolate thinking the chocolate would melt and swirl within the batter. But the chips didn't melt; they held their shape. The resulting cookie became highly demanded at the Inn, and sales of the Nestle chocolate bar skyrocketed.

Ms. Wakefield was a smart cookie herself. She approached Nestle and eventually reached a deal. Nestle printed her recipe on the chocolate bar and supplied Ms. Wakefield with - get this! - chocolate for life so she could continue baking the Toll House cookies. What a sweet deal!

Eventually Nestle begin developing the candy bar to be more user-friendly - easier to score, and even sold the bar with a tool to make chopping the bar easier. Finally, Nestle developed the bite-sized morsels, which morphed into the chocolate chips we know - and love today.

And what happened to Ms. Chocolate Chip? She kept baking her treats until her death in 1977; during her lifetime, she also wrote a cookbook which eventually went through 39 printings.

So next time you sink your teeth into a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie, thank Ruth Wakefield! (And fate.)

For more information:


Tea Trade Part Deux

OK, so I joined Tea Trade just to see how it would work. I've got a blog there: http://keenteathyme.teatra.de/2011/03/01/whats-in-my-cup-today/

I also heard back from one of the Tea Trade creators, which I appreciate. So I decided to write an article about it so you can decide for yourself if it's worth your while.

Wanna have a say? E-mail me at keenteathyme@gmail.com or post below, specifying that you'd like your comments included in the article.

Stay tuned...hope to have the article up by Friday.


Welcome - we are live!

It's official! Keen Tea Thyme is awake, live and active so let's roll!

What kinds of things can you find here? So far, there have been some investigations - as well as some commentary - on a few items: the new Tea Trade Web site and why rooibos gives us headaches, for example. Please feel free to leave your comments on both!

Most important to mention is the Battle between bagged tea and loose. Check out the post today; post your comments, pros and cons of both, if there are "better" bags for the environment, etc. This year-long battle begins today so let's get started!

Alice's Tea Party has a few "guests" - check out the teas available in the theme. Post any other Alice related teas you find.

Take the poll to let me know what else you want to see here! (Poll located on the right-hand side of the screen.)

Also, since it is officially March 1 and this blog is active, it's time for the March/April contest - tea haiku! Post away and vote on your favorites. Winner receives either a gift certificate for tea or a selection of tea (details still being worked out).

What you can expect in the next few weeks...
-Irish Breakfast: St. Patty's Day & tea history (article)
-Joy's Teaspoon company profile - who's behind this new tea company?
-Tea-stain art - what is it? Check back to see what this brilliant Canadian artist is doing next.
-More bargains and tea scores, updated weekly so check back often
-A Tea Word Search - by the end of March
-For the Environment: which tea bags are best for Mother Earth
-Tea leaf readings (for fun, based on the kind of tea you enjoy) will begin in April
-So much more!

Is there something else this blog needs? Let me know! E-mail me at keenteathyme@gmail.com

Enjoy your "thyme" here, all of you "keen" on tea!

Bagged Tea vs Loose Tea

Welcome to the battle of the year! (At least the battle of the year on Keen Tea Thyme.)
In one corner is the tea bag, another corner there's the loose tea. Which do you prefer? Pros/cons of each?

Post away! From now through March 2012, post your comments on both. Let's see who will prevail! Vote on your favorite comments. We'll do a contest of some sort for the winners.

Which do you like: loose or bagged?

Tea Foe

Which teas are your Tea Foes?

Is there a tea you just can't stand? A smell or taste that makes you regret your tea devotion?

Post it here!

The Case Against Rooibos

from Mountain Rose Herbs

I've been drinking tea for years and have established only one Tea Foe: Red Rooibos (RR). (People seem to disagree on the spelling. This is the most common way to spell I could find.)

Why is RR a Tea Foe? Because for some reason it gives me a headache. Just the smell of RR can send my head spinning. I am prone to migraines - I get at least four a month, if not more - so I am trying anything and everything to avoid headache triggers. RR is definitely one of them.

It began when I tried a RR from Adagio. I don't remember what kind. I just remember ordering it as a caffeine-free alternative to other teas. Once I opened the lid of the little sample and I smelled that woodsy/sawdust flavor my head started to pound. 

I threw it out, thinking it was old. Tried again, this time at Teavana, with the Sweet Amore blend. I don't believe they have this blend anymore, but this was heavy in RR. I couldn't take it. I gave it away, knowing it wasn't tea going bad, that's just how it smelled. Ugh.

Fast forward to about a month ago, when I realized there is another variety of Rooibos - green! I've tried it and am satisfied: NO HEADACHE.

So what gives? What is in the RR that triggers my headache? The answer is: Tannin. Tannin is a pesky trigger for people who suffer from chronic headaches and migraines like I do. I have to be careful when drinking red wine, too, for high tannin levels. According info provided to Wikipedia, with the exception of tea drinking, imbibing large amounts of tannins isn't recommended. For example, red wines are produced with a larger amount of tannins to preserve the color and flavor (i.e., of the wood barrel).

From http://www.ochef.com/197.htm:

"Tannins are substances present in the seeds and stems of grapes, the bark of some trees, and yes, tea leaves. They are described as interfering with digestive processes, and until more effective synthetics were found, were used to tan animal hides and turn them into leather."

Gross! Used to make leather? Astringent? What else is in the seedy history of Rooibos?
"For centuries, rooibos tea was drunk by the Khoisan tribe of South Africa, who used it as a herbal medicine. 
In 1904, a Russian immigrant called Benjamin Ginsberg began to offer Rooibos to a worldwide market, calling it 'Mountain Tea'. 

In 1968, a South African mother named Annique Theron accidentally used some leftover rooibos tea in her baby daughter's bottle and discovered that it had a calming and soothing effect, relieving the baby's chronic restlessness, vomiting and stomach cramps. She advertised in her local newspaper and found other mothers whose infants had similar problems, and these provided a testing ground for her theories about the healing properties of rooibos tea. Wanting to share her discovery with the rest of the world, she wrote a book on the anti-allergic qualities of the Rooibos plant called Allergies: an Amazing Discovery. She later created a range of skincare products containing rooibos extract, which are used to treat dry, irritated and allergic skin.

In 1997, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) awarded rooibos a gold medal for its anti-allergic properties, and in 1998 it awarded Annique Theron 'Woman Discoverer of the Year'."

Crazy! But it makes sense - some say that rooibos HELPS their headaches: http://www.teachat.com/viewtopic.php?t=1804

The investigation continues... for now I just avoid RR, my sole Tea Foe, and focus on its new sib, Green Rooibos.

For more information:

Tea Trade Investigation

There was a new site posted on steepster.com that is causing a stir: Tea Trade. Click here for the steepster.com posting.

Basically the company is acting as a middleman or host for selling leftover tea. From what I understand, sellers can be average people like you and me or companies. But before we get into that, I've got to point out the blogging site.

Tea Trade also offers a platform for tea bloggers - using Wordpress software. I signed up for an account for this project and put up a few tea bags for sale. (This is a legit purchase even though I'm just doing a test to see how it works). I inquired with Tea Trade about a month ago as they posted a note that they were looking for writers. I thought they wanted someone to write specifically for them, but they just want to be the host for the blog.

I created a blog, but it basically links back to this one. I dislike using Wordpress; it's not very user-friendly. Here's the catch: you sign up for the blog, and teatra.de is the host, so their name is attached to your blogs. What do you think about that? Please post below.

On to the selling part. Tea Trade acts like eBay or Etsy - sites which allow regular people to sell their wares. So if you have leftover tea, you can pawn it on Tea Trade. This strikes a nerve.

The online tea community has been swapping teas for years - sending tea to others in place of teas they'd like to try. I've been doing this for the past month or so. Yes you'll get some teas you don't like. I received some with red rooibos, which I have an issue with (see post), so I set it aside for a package.

Selling the tea is an option, I guess, but in the spirit of community I'd rather swap.

What do you think?