Agave Nectar - how sweet is it?

What is this stuff? I keep hearing about agave nectar as a sweetener for tea. I hadn't really heard about it until recently (other than its use in tequila production), but I'm learning it's no fad. I have the world's biggest sweet tooth, so I had to "investigate" this stuff to see what it's all about.

According to http://www.allaboutagave.com/, agave nectar is the sweet stuff found in spiky, cacti-like plants that grow in desert climates, particularly in Southern Mexico. Once an agave has grown to at least seven years old, the plant's leaves are cut off, revealing the pina of the plant - or the core. After harvesting, the pina resembles a huge pineapple and can weigh up to 150 pounds. (Yikes!)

Sap is then extracted from that pina/core, filtered and heated at a low temperature, which melts the carbs into sugars. There is light and dark agave nectars, but both can be made from the same plant.

All About Agave states that the taste is similar to honey. But I want to know from those of you who use agave nectar. What do you think? How does it taste? How would you rate it as a sweetener - for tea or otherwise?

Also, what is the best brand of agave nectar? Got any favorite places to purchase this pina puree?


Teaist Apprentice - on hiatus

Dear Readers - 
One of my favorite features about this blog is the story of Ally - a fictional character embarking on a journey to become a Teaist Apprentice. I have been posting updates on her adventures weekly, but have to take a break due to health reasons.

Many of you know I suffer from migraines, and had a recent spinal injury. Consequently I am in a lot of pain lately. I am seeing a doctor next week to discuss surgery options.

In the meantime, I have to take it easy. I will still be posting and updating, but I am not feeling as creative as usual so I'm putting the Teaist Apprentice on hold. (Plus I'm on lots of medication for the pain.)

Ally will return in May. Look forward to the following posts, and much more:
  • participating in an authentic Japanese tea ceremony
  • discussing how the earthquake affected Japan's tea market
  • traveling to China to harvest tea crops 
  • learning India's tea culture
  • answering your questions 
Please continue to send questions for Ally to discuss in her adventures: keenteathyme@gmail.com, as well as suggestions for her travels. I appreciate all the feedback I've gotten so far! Thanks!

OK, that's a wrap. We'll see Ally in May! :)


Autumn by 52teas

Autumn blend by 52teas;
photo used with permission
This week's blend is reminiscent of autumn - hence the name!

What's in this blend? Here's what Frank had to say:
"I started with a nice caffeine-free rooibos base for that tinge of woodiness it has which I associate with leaves crackling underfeet and old trees battening down the hatches for the approaching winter. I added some fresh, organic cinnamon chips, and bits of organic vanilla beans, because what is fall without a little spice? Then I finished everything off with natural honey, vanilla and cinnamon flavors, in that order. The result is autumn in a cup, as I see it. I look forward to hearing what you think."

Grab it here now - while it lasts! And check out his awesome collection of teas while you place your order.

For more information on Frank, visit this post here and stay tuned to Keen Tea Thyme. We'll feature 52teas in the future. 

Frank @ 52teas has a way with tea

Those at Steepster know the power and wonder of the wonderful Frank, who is THE tea blender at 52teas.com, as well as the proprietor of Zoomdweebie's, a popular tea bar in the Midwest.

Frank has created all kinds of wonderful blends: Pancake Breakfast, Strawberry Pie (honeybush), Coconut Cheesecake (honeybush) and many, many others. He blends one new, unique tea each week - hence the name "52teas." The catch? Each are available in a limited run, so you have to jump on the ones you want until they are gone for good. (Sometimes you can beg him to reblend in the steepster forums, but most of the teas are limited edition.)

Frank does have a permanent collection of blends - those which proved to be popular among online retailers and in his shop. (You can find Strawberry Pie there and it is divine!)

Frank and his awesome power with honeybush teas will be featured on this blog in the future, but right now I have spoken with him about featuring his weekly creations here. He was happy to oblige, so starting this week you can view his creations here; click on the images and you'll be transported to his site where you can purchase the blends. Make sure you mention you heard about the blend here. :)

  • Week of April 18 Blend: Autumn