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Teapot with tea in the cup
The Tea Blog, Part 3

In this final installment on tea, I show you a few more teas and the contents of the box LH sent from California.

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Hi, again, Dear Readers:

I promise this is the last blog post on tea, for now. If I find something new I’ll let you know. Besides, there are plenty of other subjects in the pipeline. Missed the previous posts? Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here.

Beverly’s Chanterelle Mushrooms

Our friend Beverly is currently enjoying a plethora of fresh chanterelle mushrooms, which she is fortunate enough to find on her property. There are occasional mushrooms growing here at the Casa de Rurale, but they don’t look like that. I’m afraid of finding the wrong kind of mushroom so I don’t even bother. Beverly says that they smell fruity, like apricots, so that’s a strong indicator.

She and her husband harvest them daily and dry them:

mushrooms drying on a wood block

Look at all the mushrooms!

Beverly will either use these delicious morsels immediately or dry them like this. Chanterelle mushrooms don’t last once they’re picked, so they need to be used that day or dried for longer-term storage. Dried chanterelle mushrooms are available in many grocery stores and online (and at Amazon, of course.) They’re not cheap, so you understand why Beverly is excited about being able to harvest them for free. Same reason I like the wild blackberries that arrive in late April and finish in late June.

Coming Soon: Easy Dirty Keto

I’m now in possession of a review copy of Emilie Bailey’s new Easy Dirty Keto cookbook, (thank you, Emilie!) and it’s looking pretty good so far.

Cover of Easy Dirty Keto Book

Woo hoo!

Spaghetti Squash with chorizo? Oh, YEAH!! (When BF is not home, of course.)

I’ll explain more in a future blog when I’ve had more time to review and of course, try a few recipes. The release date is scheduled for August 23rd, next week. The Kindle version is available now, and you can pre-order the paperback book.

Easy Dirty Keto Cookies and Desserts

Cookies!!!

BF will, of course, be pressed into service as a taste-tester, along with anyone else who shows up at the house when I’m making some of these. Hey–he liked the broccoli cheese soup from Emilie’s Vegetarian Keto book, so there just might be something he likes here, too.

Dirty Keto French Onion Soup

Another great soup recipe?

Most of the ingredients are technically “keto,” or “low carb,” but some are a bit less conventional. Many recipes use ingredients that are technically “low carb,” but not the usual “clean eating” type. Why didn’t anyone tell me that there is now a sugar-free version of Cool Whip?

Emilie made the announcement on Instagram a couple of weeks ago and in her email to her list. This book, she says, is likely to be her last–unfortunately.

Blog post coming. Back to the subject of tea.

Lipton Found

A couple of months ago, I went into the pantry and opened the jar of decaf tea bags that I kept on my desk at Boeing.

jar with variety of decaf tea bags

I kept these on my desk for the afternoons.

It just collected dust. The tea bags are wrapped. The jar has a tight-fitting lid, so the contents were fine.

And then I saw it: three Lipton decaffeinated tea bags, at least ten years old. I remember the original conversation with LH, so I posted this on Facebook and tagged her.

Compendium of tea pictures

The pictures from the original post

She commented, “Omg that Lipton needs to go!!! It wasn’t any good when it was fresh lol!!”

Honestly, I only posted the picture because I thought she’d get a kick out of it, and I was right. Those three tea bags did go out. After trying real British tea, you can’t go back to Lipton. it just doesn’t taste right anymore.

Sorry, Lipton.

The Gift Of Tea And Nibbles

LH said on the post, “send me your address and I’ll send you some good tea.” I did, and a few weeks later, a heavy box arrived. The mail lady, as usual, gave me a funny look.

Box of British tea and sweets

She sent a British grocery!

I wasn’t expecting all this! But LH was very kind and sent me all kinds of delicious British things, some of which I’d never seen before. Obviously, I am very appreciative. I’d like to send her something, but as of yet, I haven’t figured out exactly what.

Understand that LH lives in Southern California, where, like Houston, Dallas, and other big cities, you can buy things like that. (No, not New Orleans, and not Baton Rouge, either, except in Cost Plus World Market–sometimes.) There was the packet of Typhoo (I still can’t find the picture) and Yorkshire tea, LH’s favorite:

Box of Yorkshire tea on stove

A fine tea to have in the morning.

Plus, something I knew about from watching a great Britcom called The Thin Blue Line, but had never tried: Chocolate Hobnobs.

Box of Chocolate Hobnobs

If you’ve never had these before, they’re worth a splurge.

These cookies are the favorite of the show’s protagonist, played by Rowan Atkinson. Oh, my GAWD they are so good!

They are neither sugar-free, gluten-free, nor keto. Save these for an occasional treat, and don’t eat more than two at a time in a 24-hour period. Trust me on this–they are that good, and hard to resist.

There was the shortbread from Scotland which is divine:

Walker's Shortbread

BF loves these and was very appreciative.

We can also get the regular Hobnobs at Cost Plus World Market in Baton Rouge, along with BF’s favorite Jammy Dodgers. I don’t see the chocolate ones there. Yes, Amazon has them too–but if you order them in warm weather the chocolate may melt. I’ll look around next time I’m at Whole Foods or a bigger Rouses to see if maybe they carry them locally.

WF told me later that she likes the regular Hobnobs, but not the Chocolate Hobnobs. Of course, it’s funnier when you hear Rowan Atkinson talk about his Chocolate Hobnobs. They go well with tea or coffee, or in BF’s case, milk.

LH also included a couple of British candy bars, which, thankfully, didn’t melt because it was April and not that hot yet. Cadbury’s Flake is interesting.

Flake candy bar in wrapper

What’s this?

Cadbury Flake bar

It really does flake.

We realized on the second one that it’s crumbly:

Crumbled Flake bar

Eat this carefully.

The other one is also from Cadbury, but called Crunchie:

Cadbury Crunchie Wrapper

Don’t have a picture of the inside of this one, but it’s quite tasty.

The sweets didn’t last long enough for the blog post, although we didn’t have them all at once. We tried to wait. Everything was delicious and appreciated. We enjoyed these with respect.

Earl Grey/Lady Grey Tea

Earl Grey Tea is a specific blend of tea, not a brand. It’s a standard black tea blended with bergamot, a type of citrus fruit. The result is a sweeter type of tea than the usual black teas. This is not to be confused with what’s called “sweet tea” in the south, iced tea with plenty of sugar.

Box of Earl Grey Tea

One of the many Earl Grey brands available

The story goes that this blend of tea was created for Charles Grey, the Earl of Grey, who served as the British Prime Minister from 1830 through 1834. He introduced it to British society, and the tea became well known in the years since. He allegedly saved the life of a Chinese mandarin’s son, and the mandarin sent him a gift of Chinese tea. The Earl requested that a tea vendor re-create it (allegedly teamaker Richard Twinings, according to their website) complete with oil of bergamot, and it’s been Earl Grey Tea ever since.

But the Earl never set foot in China, so there’s that. And it may have been created to cover the taste of hard water in Northumberland.

Lady Grey was created as sort of a counterpoint to Earl Grey by Twinings in 1994, although many brands now have their own version.

Picture of box of Twinings Lady Grey TEa

The counterpoint to Earl Grey

It’s a nice tea that’s permeated with a fresher flavor and distinct orange taste that replaces the stronger bergamot flavor in the Earl Grey variety.

 

Ziplock bag of Lady Grey

So what if they were in a Ziplock bag?

LH didn’t have a box for the tea bags she sent. I just said, “thank you.”

Which One is Better?

If you try them side-by-side as LH suggested, you definitely taste the difference. It’s not that one is necessarily better than the other, although LH’s preference is for Lady Grey tea.

Two Teacups with tea

They’re both delicious!

Comes down to personal preference, as always. As it turned out, I had a box of decaffeinated Twining’s Earl Grey in the pantry from my desk at Boeing.

Four packets of Twinnings decaf Earl Grey Tea

It’s sealed in a plastic-type wrapper.

I have no idea how long I’ve had this tea, but I suspect it was bought between 2010 and 2012. The tea tastes just as good as it did when I first bought it. Twining’s, like a lot of tea manufacturers, puts their tea bags into sealed plastic packets, unlike the porous paper wrappers around Lipton Tea bags.

LH insisted I try them side-by-side, so that’s what I did. They’re both very good but have different and distinctive flavors. Pick the one you like best and enjoy it in your favorite cup.

Green Tea

Then there’s green tea, which is described as having a “vegetal taste.” The first time I tried it (years ago!) my first thought was that it tastes like someone mowed the lawn and brewed the clippings. I know, I know, it has its devotees, and it’s full of antioxidants and the like. It’s the same thing as black tea but not oxidized. Mostly it’s popular in China and Japan, and very caffeinated. If you like green tea, go for it.

But because LH sent me a little box, I decided to try green tea again:

If you sip it without anything in it, that “vegetal taste” comes right through.

Cup of green tea brewing

It’s green.

It’s not like chamomile.

packet of English Tea Store green tea

It’s green.

But if you add cream and a sweetener, it tastes like. . .tea. Your choice. I can’t say that it’s bad, of course, it’s just not as exciting as English Breakfast tea.

Tea Pots

After watching many episodes of multiple British TV series, I eventually bought a few teapots too. Why not? I have some from Cost Plus World Market, and one from IKEA, that I like for the colder months.

picture of IKEA Riklig teapot

A great teapot for any time. (Source: IKEA website)

They also make a smaller version of this teapot, which may be in my next order.

I also started making teapot cozies from a sewing book and I have them for all the teapots. They work well and look good, with obvious American touches like a southwestern print for one of them.

For my birthday last year, I ordered two boxes of Typhoo decaf from The English Tea Store. I also bought myself this little cutie:

Tea for one pot next to measuring ruler

It’s not terribly big. Nor does it hold much tea.

I just didn’t realize it was that small when I ordered.

See, I used to have a “tea for one” set that I bought somewhere in Houston. It held a fair amount with a nice-sized cup. I don’t remember where I got it, and I don’t have it anymore. Decided that I’d get another one because this is what I normally drink tea from these days:

Green tea in a cup with the Texas flag

I have two with a Texas design, bought from Shutterfly with images from Pinterest.

It’s what the British call a “beaker.” With the Texas flag on it, right? So, the little red tea-for-one set, well:

Teapot with tea in the cup

Well, it makes the tea very nicely. Just not very much tea.

Yes, it’s tiny. The price was right, and it’s cute. It will probably go into the china cabinet I’m planning to get from IKEA, one day.

When I sent a picture of it to our friend WF in Turkey she sent back a voice message on Facebook Messenger. Mostly, she was giggling. WF and her husband were very amused at my tiny little red tea-for-one set.

Finding British Tea In America

Well, online, of course, unless you’re lucky enough to live near a place that sells this sort of thing like LH. Two of my favorites are:

 

You can also just do a search to find tea sellers in the US, too. That’s how I found both of those. When Teadog was out of something, The English Tea Store had some.

Remember that import stores that carry multitudes of incredible things from around the globe were just a car ride in Houston. Phoenicia Foods is one of the biggest, and I bought so many things there in addition to tea. Those cookies from Poland were delicious. And they ship, too!

HEB and Central Market, of course, are also repositories of all manner of incredible foods, ingredients, and imported things in the larger stores. Unfortunately, they no longer ship–everything is curbside pickup or delivery if you’re lucky enough to be in the area.

Also, understand that “imported” to a Texan means “from outside of Texas.” 

There’s always Amazon, which is the source of all the affiliate links in the blog. Don’t forget that Amazon is also a great place to research just about anything you’re interested in, even if you don’t buy it there. Be forewarned that sometimes food things sit in an Amazon warehouse for quite a while.

Until Next Time

There’s one person I know who probably won’t try British tea (but maybe the Chocolate Hobnobs if he hasn’t already.) That would be Neighbor E in Houston, bless him, who is a fan of the chai latte, and he makes them at home. Anytime I see this, I think about you, Dude:

Tazo Chai Latte in a box

His drink of choice! (In our local Winn-Dixie.)

Admittedly, when we went to the opening of the big new HEB in Clear Lake, he was right next to me getting free coffee. That’s the only time I ever saw him drink any. Well, it was free, after all.

Tea is a huge world, much like coffee and wine. Finding a new favorite may be as simple as a visit to your local grocery store, or to an online vendor. You can drink a different tea every day and never try every tea available. Once you find one you like, bookmark it and try another one.

Enjoy!

 

 

Red tea for one set next to a box of Typhoo Decaf
The Tea Post, Part 2

Tea is wonderful, as discussed in Part 1 of this topic. But today I’ll tell you how I became a fan of British tea, and why it’s better. Better make a pot for this one.

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Hello, again, Dear Readers:

Another week, another “where did the time go” moment. Last week, BF dragged me out of bed early to run an errand in the Baton Rouge area. We were actually in Prairieville, so there was no visit to Trader Joe’s, Joann Fabrics, or Cost Plus World Market. He went to work at 2:00 pm, so we were under a time constraint. We also needed dog food so we didn’t risk becoming dog food.

While Houston–and most of Texas–is still roasting, we’ve been fortunate with plenty of intermittent rain that keeps the temperatures below 90F degrees. If I could “gift” rain to Texas, I would.

I decided to cut this second blog post of tea into two because it’s just that long. Part three is next. But I have some other news first.

RIP: The Boy

On a few occasions, I’ve mentioned a friend of ours I affectionately nicknamed “The Boy.”

Head shot of Triston Pennington

The Boy, aka Triston Pennington

I called him that because, well, we’re old enough to be his parents, but we didn’t mind. His real name is Triston Pennington. A nice guy, well-liked, and had a lot going on with a sense of humor that sneaks up on you. We enjoyed having him over, and he was a favorite dinner guest. He and BF were coworkers and were also occasionally working on something car-related outside of work.

BF and The Boy in a truck

They loved hanging out doing car-guy stuff.

Unfortunately, on Saturday night, it ended. Everyone is stunned. We got the call from their manager just after 3:00 am Sunday morning.

Triston was involved in an accident on the east side of town, and he didn’t make it. He was driving by himself at about 11:00 pm, and we know for certain is that he wasn’t wearing a seat belt. The Louisiana State Police’s investigation is ongoing. The funeral is Friday. Triston’s Dad is dealing with so much, and BF has offered to help. He’ll be picking up Triston’s vehicle this week from the impound yard once the LSP finishes its investigation.

Little Roasty Potatoes

On one occasion, BF notified me that Triston would be joining us for dinner while I was in Hammond. Think fast, Amy! I bought a bag of fingerling potatoes at Rouse’s to roast with whatever else I was making. All it took was a light drizzle of olive oil, a shake of salt, and a sprinkle of Italian seasoning on a parchment-lined pan. Mix them to coat, then roast at 425F for an hour in the countertop oven.

The next day, BF came home and told me that Triston really enjoyed the “little roasty potatoes.” When he came back for dinner another time, I cut some larger potatoes down to bite size and did the same thing so he could enjoy them again. Maybe I should call them “Triston’s Potatoes.”

If you are so inclined, please say a prayer for his Dad and everyone who worked with him. We miss him already.

Hatch Chile Days Return

I got a text from Neighbor E this morning. He visited the lovely HEB on Clear Lake City Boulevard and saw the Hatch Chiles on display.

Boxes of Hatch Chiles in HEB

They’re here!!

HEB is supposed to have some Hatch Chile dark chocolate tomorrow. E will be all over that, as I would if I were there.

Rouse’s also has Hatch Chiles, but I haven’t made it to Hammond to get some. BF will definitely be unhappy when I do. They’re only available for a little while, so if you’re a fan, don’t wait to buy yours.

Neighbor E also had a visitor this morning:

Egret on stairway railing

Parked himself on the stair railing.

Egrets are one of the many birds native to the Gulf Coast, as are Great Blue Herons. They’re also weird birds. They just show up anywhere they like. Makes you wonder if they’re related to cats in some way.

Anyway. . .let’s talk tea.

Discovering British Tea

Let me just say that although I love coffee, I also love tea. But now, as I say, I’m picky. Years of watching Britcoms taught me how to make a proper cup of British tea. Except I don’t put lemon in mine.

Many years ago, I was at AWAI’s Copywriting Bootcamp in Delray Beach, FL, where I met many people that I still keep in touch with today. (Thank you, Facebook.) One of them is a British lady, LH, who married an American, and now lives in California.

We were talking one morning over breakfast with another AWAI member from Houston. I happened to mention that they had “real British tea” in the hotel rooms with the coffee supplies. LH replied that she normally just brings her own tea because it usually isn’t. (LH doesn’t like coffee.)

After breakfast, we took a walk down to the closest Publix in Delray Beach, to get some supplies for ourselves and our companion. When we passed that spot in Publix, LH pointed out, “this is real British tea.”

PG Tips

I saw PG Tips in HEB many times, but never paid attention or even bought a box. Turns out, real British tea was right there all along. I said, “Oh, I can buy that at H-E-B when I get home to Houston.”

Picture of Box of original PGTips tea

You may have seen this in your own grocery store. (Source: Amazon)

I did, and it’s delicious! I boiled the water, put the distinctive triangular tea bag in the cup, poured the hot water in, and walked away for a few minutes. Just like you would with Lipton, right? Well. . . .

This must be what Her Majesty’s Royal Air Force pilots drink before they hop into the cockpit of their planes. MAN, that tea is strong!

I worked on the third floor of the Bay Area Building. I felt like I could fly right off that back balcony, singing, I Believe I Can Fly. You get away with that ONE TIME.

I ended up giving the rest of the box to a lady upstairs in ISS who was not only British but drank PG Tips from the time she was small.

It even comes in an extra strong version. Yes, I’ve tried that one time–never again. Avoid anything that makes your teeth wiggle.

Fortunately, PG Tips does come in decaf,

Picture of box of PG Tips Decaf

All of the taste without the jolt.

This decaf tastes exactly like the regular version without staying awake for 36 hours. Maybe next order I’ll get a couple of extra boxes, it’s that good.

I’ve seen small boxes of regular PG Tips available in a few places here; Whole Foods is one. I got the extra strong from Vitacost once.  I keep the real thing around for emergencies where I need to be awake.

I’m out of decaf right now but will be ordering more soon since it’s not available locally. In fact, I only saw small boxes of decaf in The Fresh Market in Houston, once upon a time.

You Only Get The OOOOH! with Typhoo!

Typhoo is another brand of Britain’s finest tea that comes in a very good decaf version. I have some round bags of Typhoo decaf, but LH kindly sent me a packet of the real thing. More on that in the next post.

Picture of Typhoo Tea box

Another delicious tea (source: Amazon)

I can’t find the picture of this one, but the round tea bags come in foil sleeves to keep them fresh. And the decaf Typhoo is also flavorful.

Red tea for one set next to a box of Typhoo Decaf

With a beautiful red tea-for-one set.

Typhoo doesn’t have the heart-racing, mind-altering strength of PG Tips, but it’s still an excellent British tea. TV cooking show host Nigella Lawson made cute commercials for the brand a few years ago. On the company’s website, a quote from her mentions that she never leaves the country without a box of Typhoo in her suitcase. Understandable.

Typhoo Tea has graced Britain’s teapots since 1903. Both regular and decaf are available at Cost Plus World Market, Amazon, TeaDog, and The English Tea Store, as well as some grocery stores. I’ve bought it at the Cost Plus stores in Baton Rouge and New Orleans a few times. I bought it frequently in Houston at the Cost Plus on Bay Area Boulevard.

More Favorites

Our British expat friend WF reminds me that “British Tea” isn’t actually grown in Britain. India, Sri Lanka, and a few other places, yes, but not anywhere in the UK.

The “real British tea” that was in our hotel rooms at the Delray Beach Marriott so many years ago was this:

Box of Scottish Breakfast Tea

This distinguished tea is also delicious.

Scottish Breakfast Tea from Taylors of Harrogate, the company that also makes the delicious Yorkshire tea we also like. (Yorkshire happens to be LH’s favorite.)  After my return to Houston, I found more of this wonderful Scottish Breakfast tea in Central Market. I was so happy I bought a box.

But life went on and I never bought it again, until recently. Amazon carries this amazing tea, in 20 individually wrapped bags, boxes of 50 un-wrapped tea bags like the one in the picture, boxes of 100, and the loose leaf version. However, I can’t drink that every day, it’s too strong, and there’s no decaf.

I bought two 50-count boxes a few months ago from TeaDog.com (more on them in the next blog post.) The Post Office sent one of those great big vans to deliver the tiny little boxes in a small shipping box. I’m stocked for a while.

Scottish Breakfast Tea Is A Type

There are multiple brands of “Scottish Breakfast Tea.” Turns out it’s a blend that goes well with Scotland’s soft waters. It’s made from a blend of Indian Assam and African teas. Taylors of Harrogate just so happens to be the one I’m familiar with, but I’ll happily try another brand one day.

In addition to Yorkshire and Yorkshire Gold teas, the company also makes decaf. It’s equally good, just like the original. Yorkshire Gold tea is an orange pekoe. They even make a Yorkshire tea for hard water, which someone from Houston reviewed on Amazon.

Twinings

This brand of British tea has been around for more than 300 years and is enjoyed worldwide. It’s still run by the same family and has a royal crest. It’s considered the preeminent British tea. Readily available in grocery stores and online, the company produces hundreds of different teas. Many come in K-cups.

Picture of box of Twinings English Breakfast tea, 100 count box

You can find this everywhere.

As far as their English Breakfast Tea, it’s. . .OK, both regular and decaf. Their Irish Breakfast tea is about the same, OK, not great, regular and decaf.

Picture of Twinings Irish Breakfast tea

This one is pretty available, too.

It’s just plain tea. Compared to the other British teas, Twinings doesn’t have the thing that makes you go oooohhh.

Twinings also has Earl Grey, Lady Grey, and just about any other kind of tea blend you can think of. But no Scottish Breakfast. (More on the Grey teas in the next blog.)

The company has a USA site as well as a UK site. The UK site has more gifting and accessories than the US store has, including a nice range of tea ware. Well, maybe I can order this lovely set from that site.

Twinnings Tea For One

Wouldn’t this be nice?

If the currency exchange rate isn’t too bad one day.

Other Brands Of Tea

There are quite a few British teas available in the US, somewhere. Way too many Americans have tried British tea, either on a visit or some other way like me, and do not want the American cuppa anymore. British brands just seem to taste better, and are made for anyone who is serious about their tea.

Admittedly, I keep several brands around, and BF has no idea what they are.  He drinks milk, Coke, and water occasionally, and sometimes orders sweetened iced tea in a restaurant. He wouldn’t know what to do with a cup of hot tea, though I’ve offered him a taste many times. The tea in the pantry is, in his opinion, simply taking up space.

Ahmad’s Tea

I’ve bought their decaffeinated Afternoon Tea many times at Phoenicia Foods in Houston.

Box of Ahmad Evening Decaf Tea

Very tasty.

It’s also available online (Phoenicia ships!), as are their other teas, including English Breakfast. Nobody’s ever heard of it here that I’ve found. Ahmad’s is also good tea, regular or decaf, such as their Evening Tea, which I bought occasionally in Houston.

Fortunately, it’s readily available online, and not terribly expensive, either.

Builder’s Tea

There are several brands of tea that are called “builder’s tea”, but there is an actual brand called Builder’s Tea. The term is colloquial for very strong (and inexpensive) tea that builders enjoy.

Truly teas for the workers:

Side of box of Builder's Tea

They’re not kidding, are they?

Neither was the US, mate.

I have not personally tried this tea myself. But our friend Beverly recently tried some. She received a box of it in a gift basket some time ago. She posted: “I have a box of Builder’s I’m afraid to try. It has caution markings around the top for heaven’s sake.”

But recently, Beverly decided to make a pitcher of iced tea with Builder’s Tea. Beverly and her family live in rural Georgia, where they have roughly the same weather we have, and iced tea is normal during summer.

Until you make it with real British Builder’s Tea.

Beverly said that after drinking a glass, “I didn’t blink for four hours.”

Don’t say I didn’t warn you, OK?

Tazo’s Awake English Breakfast Tea

I mentioned this in the previous blog post.

PIcture of box of Tazo Tea

My “regular” afternoon tea.

Tazo is a readily available American brand. Their Awake stands up to the British teas, but not with nearly the punch of PG Tips.

It has just the right amount of heart racing I need in the afternoon. Not too strong, but a tasty tea that’s close to British. Thankfully, Winn-Dixie carries it locally.

Stash

Another American brand that LH introduced me to is Stash, which is a bit stronger than Tazo.

Equally good, and I do buy it occasionally when I find it. Both Stash and Tazo have a wide range of tea flavors, available in most grocery stores and online.

Newman’s Own and Store Brands

Newman’s Own also has an English Breakfast Tea, which, in my opinion, is decaf. It tastes all right, but it won’t give you a boost, a jolt, or even a nudge when you need it. It’s not bad, though.

And then just a few weeks ago, I discovered that Winn-Dixie now has its own brand of teas, including English Breakfast tea.

Box of English breakfast tea on shelf in store

Who knew?

We were in the Hammond store, and I found some, two boxes for $4, although it’s now $2.69. It’s a good tea, but it’s not nearly as tasty as, well, real English Breakfast Tea.

I don’t see this tea on their app or website anymore, so I wonder if it’s already been discontinued. Still, it’s not bad for $2.69.

Our local Winn-Dixie is being renovated, and it’s almost finished. I’ll have pictures of that in an upcoming blog. More room, more stuff, self-checkouts, and it’s fabulous. BF is not amused.

HEB has its own brand of English Breakfast Tea, Earl Grey, as well as many others. (There’s also a Central Market Organics brand.) HEB has more tea than they had when I shopped there regularly. I remember their store-brand tea being the same high quality as many others I’ve bought. But it’s been a while.

More Coming Soon

The third part of the tea post is next, complete with pictures, including the wonderful box of things LH kindly sent me from California.

I’m working on a couple of other food-related topics, and as promised, will show you the recipe for the blackberry galette. We’re due to make another one for BF soon.

Enjoy!

 

 

The Tea Post, Part 2

Tea is wonderful, as discussed in Part 1 of this topic. But today I’ll tell you how I became a fan of British tea, and why it’s better. Better make a pot for this one.

Follow me on Bloglovin’

Hello, again, Dear Readers:

Another week, another “where did the time go” moment. Last week, BF dragged me out of bed early to run an errand in the Baton Rouge area. We were actually in Prairieville, so there was no visit to Trader Joe’s, Joann Fabrics, or Cost Plus World Market. He went to work at 2:00 pm, so we were under a time constraint. We also needed dog food so we didn’t risk becoming dog food.

While Houston–and most of Texas–is still roasting, we’ve been fortunate with plenty of intermittent rain that keeps the temperatures below 90F degrees. If I could “gift” rain to Texas, I would.

I decided to cut this second blog post of tea into two because it’s just that long. Part three is next. But I have some other news first.

RIP: The Boy

On a few occasions, I’ve mentioned a friend of ours I affectionately nicknamed “The Boy.”

Head shot of Triston Pennington

The Boy, aka Triston Pennington

I called him that because, well, we’re old enough to be his parents, but we didn’t mind. His real name is Triston Pennington. A nice guy, well-liked, and had a lot going on with a sense of humor that sneaks up on you. We enjoyed having him over, and he was a favorite dinner guest. He and BF were coworkers and were also occasionally working on something car-related outside of work.

BF and The Boy in a truck

They loved hanging out doing car-guy stuff.

Unfortunately, on Saturday night, it ended. Everyone is stunned. We got the call from their manager just after 3:00 am Sunday morning.

Triston was involved in an accident on the east side of town, and he didn’t make it. He was driving by himself at about 11:00 pm, and we know for certain is that he wasn’t wearing a seat belt. The Louisiana State Police’s investigation is ongoing. The funeral is Friday. Triston’s Dad is dealing with so much, and BF has offered to help. He’ll be picking up Triston’s vehicle this week from the impound yard once the LSP finishes its investigation.

Little Roasty Potatoes

On one occasion, BF notified me that Triston would be joining us for dinner while I was in Hammond. Think fast, Amy! I bought a bag of fingerling potatoes at Rouse’s to roast with whatever else I was making. All it took was a light drizzle of olive oil, a shake of salt, and a sprinkle of Italian seasoning on a parchment-lined pan. Mix them to coat, then roast at 425F for an hour in the countertop oven.

The next day, BF came home and told me that Triston really enjoyed the “little roasty potatoes.” When he came back for dinner another time, I cut some larger potatoes down to bite size and did the same thing so he could enjoy them again. Maybe I should call them “Triston’s Potatoes.”

If you are so inclined, please say a prayer for his Dad and everyone who worked with him. We miss him already.

Hatch Chile Days Return

I got a text from Neighbor E this morning. He visited the lovely HEB on Clear Lake City Boulevard and saw the Hatch Chiles on display.

Boxes of Hatch Chiles in HEB

They’re here!!

HEB is supposed to have some Hatch Chile dark chocolate tomorrow. E will be all over that, as I would if I were there.

Rouse’s also has Hatch Chiles, but I haven’t made it to Hammond to get some. BF will definitely be unhappy when I do. They’re only available for a little while, so if you’re a fan, don’t wait to buy yours.

Neighbor E also had a visitor this morning:

Egret on stairway railing

Parked himself on the stair railing.

Egrets are one of the many birds native to the Gulf Coast, as are Great Blue Herons. They’re also weird birds. They just show up anywhere they like. Makes you wonder if they’re related to cats in some way.

Anyway. . .let’s talk tea.

Discovering British Tea

Let me just say that although I love coffee, I also love tea. But now, as I say, I’m picky. Years of watching Britcoms taught me how to make a proper cup of British tea. Except I don’t put lemon in mine.

Many years ago, I was at AWAI’s Copywriting Bootcamp in Delray Beach, FL, where I met many people that I still keep in touch with today. (Thank you, Facebook.) One of them is a British lady, LH, who married an American, and now lives in California.

We were talking one morning over breakfast with another AWAI member from Houston. I happened to mention that they had “real British tea” in the hotel rooms with the coffee supplies. LH replied that she normally just brings her own tea because it usually isn’t. (LH doesn’t like coffee.)

After breakfast, we took a walk down to the closest Publix in Delray Beach, to get some supplies for ourselves and our companion. When we passed that spot in Publix, LH pointed out, “this is real British tea.”

PG Tips

I saw PG Tips in HEB many times, but never paid attention or even bought a box. Turns out, real British tea was right there all along. I said, “Oh, I can buy that at H-E-B when I get home to Houston.”

Picture of Box of original PGTips tea

You may have seen this in your own grocery store. (Source: Amazon)

I did, and it’s delicious! I boiled the water, put the distinctive triangular tea bag in the cup, poured the hot water in, and walked away for a few minutes. Just like you would with Lipton, right? Well. . . .

This must be what Her Majesty’s Royal Air Force pilots drink before they hop into the cockpit of their planes. MAN, that tea is strong!

I worked on the third floor of the Bay Area Building. I felt like I could fly right off that back balcony, singing, I Believe I Can Fly. You get away with that ONE TIME.

I ended up giving the rest of the box to a lady upstairs in ISS who was not only British but drank PG Tips from the time she was small.

It even comes in an extra strong version. Yes, I’ve tried that one time–never again. Avoid anything that makes your teeth wiggle.

Fortunately, PG Tips does come in decaf,

Picture of box of PG Tips Decaf

All of the taste without the jolt.

This decaf tastes exactly like the regular version without staying awake for 36 hours. Maybe next order I’ll get a couple of extra boxes, it’s that good.

I’ve seen small boxes of regular PG Tips available in a few places here; Whole Foods is one. I got the extra strong from Vitacost once.  I keep the real thing around for emergencies where I need to be awake.

I’m out of decaf right now but will be ordering more soon since it’s not available locally. In fact, I only saw small boxes of decaf in The Fresh Market in Houston, once upon a time.

You Only Get The OOOOH! with Typhoo!

Typhoo is another brand of Britain’s finest tea that comes in a very good decaf version. I have some round bags of Typhoo decaf, but LH kindly sent me a packet of the real thing. More on that in the next post.

Picture of Typhoo Tea box

Another delicious tea (source: Amazon)

I can’t find the picture of this one, but the round tea bags come in foil sleeves to keep them fresh. And the decaf Typhoo is also flavorful.

Red tea for one set next to a box of Typhoo Decaf

With a beautiful red tea-for-one set.

Typhoo doesn’t have the heart-racing, mind-altering strength of PG Tips, but it’s still an excellent British tea. TV cooking show host Nigella Lawson made cute commercials for the brand a few years ago. On the company’s website, a quote from her mentions that she never leaves the country without a box of Typhoo in her suitcase. Understandable.

Typhoo Tea has graced Britain’s teapots since 1903. Both regular and decaf are available at Cost Plus World Market, Amazon, TeaDog, and The English Tea Store, as well as some grocery stores. I’ve bought it at the Cost Plus stores in Baton Rouge and New Orleans a few times. I bought it frequently in Houston at the Cost Plus on Bay Area Boulevard.

More Favorites

Our British expat friend WF reminds me that “British Tea” isn’t actually grown in Britain. India, Sri Lanka, and a few other places, yes, but not anywhere in the UK.

The “real British tea” that was in our hotel rooms at the Delray Beach Marriott so many years ago was this:

Box of Scottish Breakfast Tea

This distinguished tea is also delicious.

Scottish Breakfast Tea from Taylors of Harrogate, the company that also makes the delicious Yorkshire tea we also like. (Yorkshire happens to be LH’s favorite.)  After my return to Houston, I found more of this wonderful Scottish Breakfast tea in Central Market. I was so happy I bought a box.

But life went on and I never bought it again, until recently. Amazon carries this amazing tea, in 20 individually wrapped bags, boxes of 50 un-wrapped tea bags like the one in the picture, boxes of 100, and the loose leaf version. However, I can’t drink that every day, it’s too strong, and there’s no decaf.

I bought two 50-count boxes a few months ago from TeaDog.com (more on them in the next blog post.) The Post Office sent one of those great big vans to deliver the tiny little boxes in a small shipping box. I’m stocked for a while.

Scottish Breakfast Tea Is A Type

There are multiple brands of “Scottish Breakfast Tea.” Turns out it’s a blend that goes well with Scotland’s soft waters. It’s made from a blend of Indian Assam and African teas. Taylors of Harrogate just so happens to be the one I’m familiar with, but I’ll happily try another brand one day.

In addition to Yorkshire and Yorkshire Gold teas, the company also makes decaf. It’s equally good, just like the original. Yorkshire Gold tea is an orange pekoe. They even make a Yorkshire tea for hard water, which someone from Houston reviewed on Amazon.

Twinings

This brand of British tea has been around for more than 300 years and is enjoyed worldwide. It’s still run by the same family and has a royal crest. It’s considered the preeminent British tea. Readily available in grocery stores and online, the company produces hundreds of different teas. Many come in K-cups.

Picture of box of Twinings English Breakfast tea, 100 count box

You can find this everywhere.

As far as their English Breakfast Tea, it’s. . .OK, both regular and decaf. Their Irish Breakfast tea is about the same, OK, not great, regular and decaf.

Picture of Twinings Irish Breakfast tea

This one is pretty available, too.

It’s just plain tea. Compared to the other British teas, Twinings doesn’t have the thing that makes you go oooohhh.

Twinings also has Earl Grey, Lady Grey, and just about any other kind of tea blend you can think of. But no Scottish Breakfast. (More on the Grey teas in the next blog.)

The company has a USA site as well as a UK site. The UK site has more gifting and accessories than the US store has, including a nice range of tea ware. Well, maybe I can order this lovely set from that site.

Twinnings Tea For One

Wouldn’t this be nice?

If the currency exchange rate isn’t too bad one day.

Other Brands Of Tea

There are quite a few British teas available in the US, somewhere. Way too many Americans have tried British tea, either on a visit or some other way like me, and do not want the American cuppa anymore. British brands just seem to taste better, and are made for anyone who is serious about their tea.

Admittedly, I keep several brands around, and BF has no idea what they are.  He drinks milk, Coke, and water occasionally, and sometimes orders sweetened iced tea in a restaurant. He wouldn’t know what to do with a cup of hot tea, though I’ve offered him a taste many times. The tea in the pantry is, in his opinion, simply taking up space.

Ahmad’s Tea

I’ve bought their decaffeinated Afternoon Tea many times at Phoenicia Foods in Houston.

Box of Ahmad Evening Decaf Tea

Very tasty.

It’s also available online (Phoenicia ships!), as are their other teas, including English Breakfast. Nobody’s ever heard of it here that I’ve found. Ahmad’s is also good tea, regular or decaf, such as their Evening Tea, which I bought occasionally in Houston.

Fortunately, it’s readily available online, and not terribly expensive, either.

Builder’s Tea

There are several brands of tea that are called “builder’s tea”, but there is an actual brand called Builder’s Tea. The term is colloquial for very strong (and inexpensive) tea that builders enjoy.

Truly teas for the workers:

Side of box of Builder's Tea

They’re not kidding, are they?

Neither was the US, mate.

I have not personally tried this tea myself. But our friend Beverly recently tried some. She received a box of it in a gift basket some time ago. She posted: “I have a box of Builder’s I’m afraid to try. It has caution markings around the top for heaven’s sake.”

But recently, Beverly decided to make a pitcher of iced tea with Builder’s Tea. Beverly and her family live in rural Georgia, where they have roughly the same weather we have, and iced tea is normal during summer.

Until you make it with real British Builder’s Tea.

Beverly said that after drinking a glass, “I didn’t blink for four hours.”

Don’t say I didn’t warn you, OK?

Tazo’s Awake English Breakfast Tea

I mentioned this in the previous blog post.

PIcture of box of Tazo Tea

My “regular” afternoon tea.

Tazo is a readily available American brand. Their Awake stands up to the British teas, but not with nearly the punch of PG Tips.

It has just the right amount of heart racing I need in the afternoon. Not too strong, but a tasty tea that’s close to British. Thankfully, Winn-Dixie carries it locally.

Stash

Another American brand that LH introduced me to is Stash, which is a bit stronger than Tazo.

Equally good, and I do buy it occasionally when I find it. Both Stash and Tazo have a wide range of tea flavors, available in most grocery stores and online.

Newman’s Own and Store Brands

Newman’s Own also has an English Breakfast Tea, which, in my opinion, is decaf. It tastes all right, but it won’t give you a boost, a jolt, or even a nudge when you need it. It’s not bad, though.

And then just a few weeks ago, I discovered that Winn-Dixie now has its own brand of teas, including English Breakfast tea.

Box of English breakfast tea on shelf in store

Who knew?

We were in the Hammond store, and I found some, two boxes for $4, although it’s now $2.69. It’s a good tea, but it’s not nearly as tasty as, well, real English Breakfast Tea.

I don’t see this tea on their app or website anymore, so I wonder if it’s already been discontinued. Still, it’s not bad for $2.69.

Our local Winn-Dixie is being renovated, and it’s almost finished. I’ll have pictures of that in an upcoming blog. More room, more stuff, self-checkouts, and it’s fabulous. BF is not amused.

HEB has its own brand of English Breakfast Tea, Earl Grey, as well as many others. (There’s also a Central Market Organics brand.) HEB has more tea than they had when I shopped there regularly. I remember their store-brand tea being the same high quality as many others I’ve bought. But it’s been a while.

More Coming Soon

The third part of the tea post is next, complete with pictures, including the wonderful box of things LH kindly sent me from California.

I’m working on a couple of other food-related topics, and as promised, will show you the recipe for the blackberry galette. We’re due to make another one for BF soon.

Enjoy!

 

 

Tea cup with a bag and hot water
The Tea Post, Part 1

Do you like iced tea in summer or hot tea in the wintertime? Or is tea just something that’s always in your pantry?

We’ve been drinking tea for hundreds of years. It’s so readily available that we don’t give it a second thought. In this first of two blogs, I’ll introduce you to tea. In the second, I’ll tell you about British tea and why I think it’s the best. Put the kettle on, make a cuppa, and I’ll tell you more.

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Hello again, Dear Readers:

I intended to write this blog post weeks ago, but time got away from me again. Right before July 4th, we both got sick. No, it wasn’t that, just some weird Louisiana swamp bug. BF got sick first, then me. We didn’t visit a doctor or hospital, so no testing for the you-know-what. We’re fine now, so what’s the point?

I’m dividing this topic into two parts because nobody wants a 5,000-word plus blog post. Besides, after a certain point, it’s diminishing returns from Google.

If you haven’t seen the video of HRH Queen Elizabeth having tea with Paddington Bear, this YouTube link takes you right to it. The video became available after my last post.

Around The Casa de Rurale

It’s summer, and it’s HOT. Everywhere. Houston is again seeing multiple days of temps above 100F. At least there are amusing memes, like this one:

If you can bake lasagna in your mailbox, why not? Remember, your stove/oven is 220 volts, whereas your mailbox is free solar power.

Yes, that’s a joke. It also might be a violation of federal law, but I haven’t checked. In other news. . . .

Emilie Bailey, The Texas Granola Girl, has a new book on “dirty keto” coming out soon. The term means that you’re not a strict practitioner, and you bend the rules a bit—like me. I’ve signed up to be a reviewer—again. Emilie will be sharing some on Instagram soon. If they are kind enough to send me an advance copy, I’ll be doing a review and cooking some delicious food (whether he likes it or not.) But her recipes are awesome, and I’ll be buying a copy if they don’t. More details when I have them.

Blackberries

The wild blackberries are gone. I’ve picked a gallon-sized freezer bag of them like last year but should have picked more. (I still have last year’s harvest in the freezer.) Buddy, aka, Broccoli Stir-Fry, discovered their deliciousness when I took him outside and fed him some by hand. The pit bull doesn’t seem to care for them anymore. We’ve had little rain this spring, leading to the vines shriveling up early. Then a deluge followed.

BF requested a “real” dessert using our blackberries, “with flour and sugar.” While I was looking for something to make, a perfect recipe arrived in the mailbox. If you’re a subscriber to The Pioneer Woman Magazine, you’ve probably seen this galette already.

Baked blackberry galette on a baking rack

Isn’t it beautiful?

Guess what? He loved it. I’m planning to make another for him as soon as I get more ingredients. It’s easy, fast, and bakes up nicely. The second go-round will be both to make him another treat and for a blog post to publish here.

Speaking of animals, both the new cat and the dog had their vet appointment with destiny a few weeks ago. Neither has figured out yet about the trip to Hammond or what happened during their naps. They’re fine.

Ready for a cuppa?

Tea’s History

Legend has it that tea came from China in 2732 B.C. when Emperor Shen Nung drank hot liquid after some leaves blew into his cup of boiling water. (Would you do that?) Odd, but that’s what I’ve found in several references. He felt invigorated after this brew (hello, caffeine!) and the Emperor began encouraging people to cultivate this incredible plant. He became known as “The Father of Tea.”

My other favorite drink, coffee, was discovered around the 5th Century in Africa and the Middle East. Coffee reached Europe first, and tea shortly thereafter. So, tea is the elder statesman here, although coffee became the American favorite after The Boston Tea Party.

Leaf tea was the norm, until one day, tea bags happened. Legend on the Internet credits New York vendor Thomas Sullivan as the inventor in 1904 (or 1908, depending on your source.)

The story goes that he sent out his tea samples in little silk bags. People just brewed the tea with them because they thought that’s what you did. However, the first patent for a tea bag apparatus was filed in 1897, with another mesh-bag invention patent in 1901, so someone else got there first.

Eventually, tea manufacturing expanded, and American tea became primarily bagged. The British didn’t take to tea bags until the 1950s, although Tetley did bring the idea back to the UK.

Our Brit friend WF, a UK ex-pat in the country of Turkey (officially, the Republic of Turkiye) wants you to know that her resident land is one of the biggest tea drinkers in the world.

Today about 96% of tea is in a bag, with loose tea being the outlier.

Pekoe And Black Teas

Black tea is from the Camellia sinensis plant. Once picked, it’s allowed to dry and oxidize. This tea is grown in Sri Lanka, India, and Africa, and was discovered in China in the mid-17th Century. This type of tea is most of what’s consumed in the US as iced tea. It’s a stronger flavor than most others.

You’ve probably seen the term “orange pekoe” for years. I didn’t pay attention until recently. But “orange pekoe” is tea grown in Sri Lanka and India, distinguished by its orange tips.

“Orange pekoe” is also part of the grading system for tea. It’s the lowest grade of tea, indicating that the tea is comprised of whole leaves, not bits and dust like some commercially produced types. But it’s a high grade of tea, meaning that it’s produced from the prime leaves. This tea doesn’t taste like orange, either.

Lipton Tea

Did you know that Lipton Tea is a British brand?

Lipton tea on a bottom shelf in Walmart

In our local Walmart

I didn’t, either. Still, it’s just regular tea in the US, available in every grocery store in America.

Like most people in the US, Lipton is just what you bought. Here in Louisiana people also buy Community Coffee’s brand of tea, or the store brands.

Community Peach Breeze Iced Tea

One of their many varieties.

That’s what we had. As kids, we had Lipton tea every night with dinner, freshly made with lemon and sugar by the pitcher.

Nobody considered decaffeinated tea. We just drank it and rarely had soft drinks. My mother believed every urban legend around, such as kids weren’t “old enough” for coffee. The old wives’ tale said not to give your kids coffee, “because caffeine stunts their growth.”

My siblings and I are all over five feet. I don’t know how it would “stunt growth,” since caffeine is a stimulant. And how many kids since then grew up with caffeinated soft drinks and Frappuccino?

Lipton’s website has more information on tea, including this primer on British tea time. I just can’t see Buckingham Palace staff serving Lipton to the Queen.

Hot Tea In A Cup

My Grandmother introduced me to hot tea when I was a teenager, but it was more of a treat. When I got older, I drank tea because that’s what I was used to having.

Tea cup with a bag and hot water

Green tea in a Texas cup.

Before coffee shops were everywhere, I’d have a cup of tea in the morning, whether at home or at the workplace. Coffee and tea were also available in the offices where I worked, or I just brought some as I did at Boeing.

Never mind that the tea had more caffeine than coffee. We didn’t have Google back then to find out these things. I started drinking coffee when I was about 22 after I’d married and moved away.

But I always kept Lipton around and sometimes had Twinings. Lipton was the standard, as well as store brand teas. Later I used decaf for iced tea so I could drink it all the time.

Then I discovered British tea, and that was the end of the relationship. I’ll explain that in the next blog post.

Yerba Mate

I’ve tried this a few times, and it’s quite caffeinated. It’s considered an herbal tea and is made from Ilex paraguariensis, a plant in the family of holly. Yes, as in the holly berries you see at Christmas.

Fans of Yerba Mate make multiple claims about it, including easing depression, relieving fatigue, helping weight loss, and other conditions. If it works for you, great. But there’s a simple explanation.

Hello!! Caffeine!!

Exactly—and if you have high blood pressure or another condition that caffeine aggravates, avoid Yerba Mate. (NOTE: I’m not a doctor, nurse, scientist, or medical professional, just someone who reads and speaks from experience.)

I tried it once or twice, and I think this is the brand I bought in Houston. Honestly, it didn’t do anything but give me plenty of heart-racing, no handsome guy in sight. Caffeine can also make me very hungry, grouchy, and jittery in large amounts, so it invalidates any other potential benefits. That’s OK, I’ll just have some PG Tips if I need that much of a jolt; it tastes much better. (More on that in the next blog post.)

The Mayo Clinic has more information on Yerba Mate on their website, as does WebMD. Use caution if you are so inclined. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Tisane: What Is Rooibos Tea?

One tea I do not like is Rooibos. It just doesn’t taste good to me. I’ve tried the Celestial Seasonings brand as well as one or two other brands. I tried to like it, but I don’t. Rooibos is a tisane, a fruit or herbal type of tea.

Turns out rooibos isn’t a true tea at all. It comes from a South African herb plant, the Fabaceae plant family. When the leaves are harvested and dried, they are brewed into a reddish-brown herbal infusion. It’s also called “African red tea” or “red bush tea” by the tea industry. It’s sometimes made with vanilla, as with the Celestial Seasonings variety. But it’s not enough to kill the awful taste. You can read more about rooibos here.

Orleans Coffee sells some very nice tisanes that are not Rooibos. This includes my favorite, called Blue Eyes. I have some in the pantry and make it now and again; I should get some more soon. It’s sweet and fruity but not overwhelming. I make it by the cup occasionally for iced tea.

Bonus: Cooling Off

I used to drink iced tea all the time. Period. I made it in great big plastic pitchers of decaf. I just let the tea bags sit out overnight in the water, and it was ready in the morning.

When I used to see Dr. Davis in the Woodlands, they always had a large pitcher of cucumber-infused water in the lobby. I loved it. But when I made a pitcher of it at home on a Friday afternoon, I couldn’t stand it on Sunday. I never made it again, but I will drink infused water if I’m out somewhere and it’s available.

One day, about 10 years ago, I just didn’t want iced tea anymore, and I haven’t had it since. After that, I simply added lime juice and Sweet N’ Low to a cup of ice water. Not lemons, just limes. That’s what I’ve been drinking since June of 2012, right after the Boeing layoff. I still have three unopened, plastic-wrapped boxes of H-E-B decaf cold brew iced tea in the pantry, because I’m too cheap to throw them away.

Three boxes of decaf cold brew iced tea bags from HEB

Still cello-wrapped and ready to use.

When limes recently became as much as $0.75 each, I went looking for something else to drink. I’m not accustomed to paying that much for limes. Then again, I’m not accustomed to paying $15 for a box of five dozen eggs, either. But that’s what they sometimes cost now. I wondered about a temporary replacement for limes in my water.

On a trip to our local Winn-Dixie, I was looking for my usual Community Coffee and Tazo Awake tea. They have a nice section with a good selection of local coffees and different teas, including Bigelow. But sitting there, on the shelf, were two boxes that caught my attention:

Two boxes of Bigelow Cold Infusions

This picture is actually from Walmart, taken May 23rd.

Hello, What’s this? Bigelow’s new Cold Water Infusions! It looked too interesting to pass up, so I didn’t. Winn-Dixie only had two flavors, as did Walmart. Didn’t take long for inflation to strike a new favorite:

Two boxes of Bigleow cold infusions at $3.48 a box

I took this picture at the same Walmart on June 27th.

When I went back to Winn-Dixie to buy more, I found more flavors. As it turns out, there are six flavors in all:

  • Watermelon Cucumber Mint
  • Cranberry Lime Honeysuckle
  • Blackberry Raspberry Hibiscus
  • Blueberry Citrus Basil
  • Strawberry Lemon Orange Blossom
  • Peach Lemonade Acai

That Amazon link takes you to bundles of packages, not individual boxes like you get in the grocery. Subscribe and save? Don’t tempt me.

These are caffeine-free cold-water infusions that you just add to ice water and let it infuse. If you leave the bags in the water longer than 10 minutes. . .nothing else happens. Tea, on the other hand, will get bitter.

Walmart had a couple of boxes of the Peach Lemonade Acai flavor, and I bought them. I think that was an accident that they had them. I finished that flavor first because. . .I don’t like that flavor much and just wanted to use up the bags. Much as I like peaches, this one just tastes funny.

As it turns out, there are multiple brands of these cold-water infusions. I’ll try them as I find them. Remember that I’m not in Texas anymore. Anything new on the market takes months if not years before it’s available on this side of the Sabine River.

Acai

If you’re not familiar with it (and I’m not, but it’s pronounced “AH-sigh-YEE”) it’s a berry native to Central and South America. It’s been promoted as a “superfood” here in the US, and sold as frozen puree or powder because they spoil quickly once they’re picked. No, I’m not jumping on that bandwagon, nor the one around goji berries.

Irony: my favorites are the first two, Watermelon Cucumber Mint and Cranberry Lime Honeysuckle. Those are the first two I found, and the two that our Walmart normally carries. Chances are I’ll be sticking with those going forward. But I have something to drink that isn’t as expensive as limes and is ready almost immediately.

Woo Hoo!

Is it any good?

It is, but it’s not heavily flavored like, say, Hawaiian Punch. It’s an infusion, which is probably a $20 word for tea, but you don’t need hot water. Just add it to ice water and leave it to sit for eight to ten minutes.

It’s a bit like that cucumber water at Dr. Davis’ office, but a tad bit fruitier. In my steel Starbucks venti (24 ounces) cold tumbler, I use two of the bags, along with a single packet of Sweet ‘N Low. But that’s just me.

It’s tasty and less expensive than the limes right now, so that helps. But people are buying those limes in Walmart and Winn-Dixie because I see the supply decrease. I also hear Spanish here, which was unusual a few years ago.

I do need to make a trip back to Los Primos in Hammond one of these days to get more chorizo and a few other things. Time to make more Salsa Macha, too.

Until Next Time

The next blog post will discuss my full introduction to British tea. It includes a very nice gift of British tea and other goodies from the UK that LH sent from California. She sent them in April, and delays mean I still haven’t finished the blog and uploaded the pictures.

Our friend Beverly is also working on another blog post for us.

Also in the queue are blog posts that are a little more serious. Yes, they’re food related, but I haven’t finished them yet.

Stay cool and Enjoy!

Building Sign Angelo Brocato's
Angelo Brocato’s

For coffee and dessert, you have a lot of choices. In New Orleans, you have Angelo Brocato’s in the Mid-City area. Come along with me and The E-Man for a quick visit.

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Hi, Again, Dear Readers:

Well, unfortunately, I broke my “streak” again. There’s a reason for it, as I’ll explain. But because it’s been a while, I’m taking another one out of the “draft” file for you. It’s about time.

Let’s get started.

Aunt Nancy

Before I moved to BF’s house, I was introduced to a very nice lady who lived in Folsom, LA, about 45 minutes from here. The occasion was a video sent to districts around the US of SGI-USA members with experiences to tell. I didn’t know who she was, but I knew her partner, PB.

Surprise! A year later, I found myself in BF’s house, and they came to visit in short order. I didn’t want them to visit, because everything was such a mess. PB is a nice man, but he insisted they needed to do a home visit. Over time, it’s gotten better, but it’s still, shall we say, “disorganized.” Not for lack of trying.

Her actual name is Nancy Mallory, and she moved down here in 2013 from Pennsylvania to spend her life with PB. He drove up to Pennsylvania to get this woman. BF only had to drive five hours to Houston to get me.  They lived on his acreage in Folsom, and very happy together.

The Fight

Somewhere, Nancy was diagnosed with cancer. Over time, she fought it hard, and along the way was a great friend to everyone, including me and BF. She asked about him one day, and I said, “he’s still going around telling people I’m trying to kill him.” Nancy’s reply: “you mean because of healthier food?” Yes. “Oh, so everything’s OK then.” Aunt Nancy got it.

I still don’t want to have company because I just don’t feel like the house is yet “company ready.” Mind you, we were ready to host the GER, Miss Alice and her daughter, as well as Neighbor E during the February freeze if they needed it. But they would have been warned about the disorganization.

Aunt Nancy wanted to do a “home visit” a couple of years ago, but I just didn’t want it here. She said, “so meet me somewhere!” We decided on the local PJ’s, and she drove up. I took this picture, and now I’m very glad I did.

Nancy Mallory In PJ's

A great candid shot, taken November 1, 2019

I called her “Aunt Nancy” for the same reason I call two of the blog’s readers Aunt Kathy and Aunt Ruth. They’re like aunts to everyone. At least, that’s the way I see it, and I use it as a term of endearment. We’re not actually related, and nobody has complained.

One More Home Visit

Unfortunately, Aunt Nancy lost the fight on Friday, June 18th, in the evening. I went to visit her about a week before, and, let’s just say she didn’t look like this picture. The strong, vibrant woman was now someone who was “all beat up” from fighting. Her daughter and grandson were around, as well as her longtime friend from New Jersey. I didn’t know what to do, so her daughter said, “just talk to her.” That’s what I did, knowing it would likely be the last chance I had.

I gave Aunt Nancy updates about me and BF, how we were doing, and about some of our benefits. I sent her an email in January about one benefit we had but didn’t get a response. That’s OK–some people read them and don’t respond. But for Aunt Nancy, she gets a pass. Mostly, I wanted her to know what we’ve been up to, and that we’re doing OK. I didn’t want her to worry about us. She chanted for us more than once, and I believe that because of it , BF and I will be fine.

PB is carrying on, as he has a business to run and bills to pay. But we all miss her already.

More Website Issues

So, if you’ve come to the website a few times, you may have found that ridiculous spam redirect–again. Banana Rat and I have removed more of these nasty plugins, and we think we got it this time. Feel free to notify me if it returns and you get it.

On June 15th, I received an email from JetPack (one of my security add-ins) that stated:

Our security systems identified unusual behavior on your account. This usually happens when the password used for your WordPress.com account is also used on another service that had a data breach, or the password is weak, insecure, or easily guessable. Because the account behavior indicated that someone else might have access to your account, we reset the password and revoked any app tokens associated with the account.

Great! So I didn’t go back to the website until today. But since I had already changed the password, it was fine. Frequently, solving tech problems on the blog takes a LOT of time. Banana Rat is skilled in these things and has taken care of several on my behalf. Please give him your thanks. We think it’s OK now, and we hope so. That was highly annoying.

Iced Coffee, Anyone?

Well, now that it’s officially summer in the US, it’s iced coffee “season.” I get that iced coffee is an acquired taste–I didn’t actually like it until about 2008 when I got a coupon in my morning Houston Chronicle for a free one. I started actively drinking it in 2011, when we had a hot summer with drought in Houston, and later learned to make it at home.  A couple of years ago, it got easier when I bought Kitchenaid’s cold brew iced coffee maker.

Nick Usborne of Coffee Detective has again published a blog on making iced coffee at home, with some updated equipment. The blog includes links to some other recipes, plus a review of the Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffee Pot and the Asobu cold-brew coffee maker. As I said the last time, there are many ways to make iced coffee, I just chose the one from Kitchenaid.

Coffee On The Way Home

So, as I mentioned in the post on Katie’s of Mid-City, I am frequently in need of a coffee for the 90-minute ride home from New Orleans. I usually stop at either Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, or PJ’s Coffee. All three are along the stretch of Veterans Memorial Boulevard, which is Metairie’s “main drag.” Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and very large Rouse’s are also on Veterans in different places. After shopping, I get my coffee, and head back to the I-10, or occasionally, north on the Lake Ponchartrain Causeway, for the 90-minute drive.

There are two PJ’s on either side of Veterans, and, to my knowledge, two Starbucks. Dunkin sits next door to one of the Starbucks, and I like Dunkin’s iced coffees. But then, the ‘rona struck. We haven’t had any in-town meetings in 18 months. The only trip to New Orleans was for last year’s socially-distanced wedding at Southern Oaks.

Why Starbucks? Two reasons: one, until recently, I saved up my “stars” in the Starbucks Rewards program just to get a “free thing” for the trip home. Two: Since Starbucks in Louisiana doesn’t have as many stores as Starbucks in Houston, there are no salads. That means I’m having either their Egg Bites or some form of a coffee on the way out. I’ve exhausted my “stars,” because I haven’t been collecting them like I used to, and the last 50 were about to expire. The Hammond store has been fully opened since April, but I just don’t drop in as often.

Angelo Brocato’s

So one day, The E-Man says to me, “forget Starbucks–you should get coffee at a local place.” Got anyplace in mind, Dude? “Angelo Brocato’s.”

Now, I grew up in the New Orleans area, but there are many places that I was never familiar with. This is one of them. I’ve seen the name here and there, but not in a long time.

So we park a couple of blocks away, as you do in Mid-City, and walked here:

Building Sign Angelo Brocato's

An old New Orleans kind of place.

Angelo Brocato's Front Door Sign

A most friendly, welcoming place

It’s a lovely place where you can have a coffee, as we did, as well as all manner of delicious Italian pastries, cookies, gelatos, and more.

Angelo Brocato's mezzanine area

The mezzanine inside the cafe. Isn’t it lovely?

My first question: “Are we fancy enough for this place?” I guess we were, they served us.

Gelato

If you’re not familiar with the term, gelato is the richer and more Italian form of ice cream. There are many brands available around the US, and Giada de Laurentiis has a recipe for it here.

Angelo Brocato’s serves it in the cafe as well as sells it in different retail locations. For me, they’re all an hour’s drive, but that’s OK.

In-store, you have a choice of them:

Gelato case at Angelo Brocato's

A lot of delicious!

I’m sure I had that chocolate at the top right. The E-Man had a slice of this delicious spumoni.

More gelato in Angelo Brocato's

Spumoni! (Sorry about the foggy)

They can pack up a quart of their gelato in the store for you to take home. They also sell the gelato and other treats at many local retailers.

Cookies And Bakery Goods

Because this visit was in July, there was no way I could get a pint of ice cream back to the Casa de Rurale intact without an ice chest and a pound of dry ice. Not knowing where to procure such a thing, I chose to bring BF a little white paper bag of tasty cookie treats.

Angelo Brocato's first bakery case

Delicious treats that make the trip home

But wait! There’s more!

Angelo Brocato's second bakery case

Such lovely things

You can buy these one at a time:

Angelo Brocato's cookie jar

I have a weakness for these, but was good that day.

I brought home to BF a small selection of the things I knew would survive the trip, including a couple of these little amaretti cookies. He ate them happily, one at a time.

Visit With The E-Man

I asked for some cappuccino, which the nice lady expertly made for me:

Cappuccino Angelo Brocato's

Absolutely delicious

The E-Man preferred to stick with coffee:

 

The E-Man and his coffee i

He bought some of their bagged “day-old” baked goods (biscotti, I think) and we talked with some nice folks while we were there. Then it was time for me to head home to the Casa de Rurale.

Naturally, I let BF know what we were doing. He knew I was bringing back some tasty things for him. Because I always do.

The Pandemic Takeout Window

Angelo Brocato’s is a very busy place most days, and on Friday and Saturday nights, there’s a line outside. Just about every week, I’m told. 

But a pandemic couldn’t keep them down. They’ve been around for over 100 years! Hurricane Katrina took them out for about a year, and they came back strong.

When the world closed up last year, Angelo Brocato’s decided to do what most restaurants did–open for takeout, including an exclusive take-out window.

Angelo Brocato's Takeout window

The very modern pandemic solution for an old-world business (Source: The Times-Picayune)

I’m guessing those lines are back on Friday and Saturday nights now that the state has re-opened.

A Great Place To Visit

I’ve said this before: if you’re visiting New Orleans, skip Starbucks and find someplace local. Angelo Brocato’s fits that bill, even if it’s just for a morning coffee. It’s a delicious and elegant “old world” cafe that will make you glad you did.  You can also order online for shipment anywhere in the continental US.

They’re located at 214 N. Carrollton Avenue in New Orleans’ Mid-City area. They are closed on Mondays like many New Orleans businesses. It’s a thing there. They’re open 10 am to 10 pm, Tuesday through Saturday, and 10 am to 9 pm on Sunday.

Happy Dining!

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