Le Pain Quo-tea-dien

Author: Kirsten K., Food & Drink, Hot Drinks, Tea
Le Pain Quo-tea-dien 1

photo credit: Mika McDonald

I know a lady named Shannon who embodies the word “fabulous.” Her Facebook posts chronicle a dizzying array of activities, from living in places as diverse as Budapest and Atlanta, to enjoying a concert, seeing the ballet, catching a play, attending a movie premiere, or cheering on the L.A. Kings (Go Kings Go!) seemingly every night of the week in her home base of Los Angeles. When not visiting a museum, strolling through a public garden, or hiking to the top of Griffith Park, she can often be found in an elegant restaurant or bar around town savoring (and photographing) a sumptuous breakfast, lunch, dinner, or cocktail. From the top of her perfect blonde bun to the tips of her bejeweled sandals, she is card-carrying agent of S.W.O.O.N.

Le Pain Quo-tea-dien 2While our lives are very different, we happen to share a love of Tasha Tudor and afternoon tea, so when Shannon told me I simply MUST try the Brioche variety from American Tea Room, I quickly snapped up a bag. The blend is one of the company’s best sellers, and it’s easy to see—and taste—why. I never know if it’s a trick of my mind, but the flavor actually reminds me of bread. And though it may seem redundant, I like to pair it with a simple breakfast of toast or an almond croissant. There’s something incredibly comforting about the aroma and flavor of fresh bread and pastries, warm from the oven…or your teacup.

Now that fall is here and the reign of Pumpkin Spice has begun, I find myself craving the taste of almonds, cinnamon, and safflower blossoms instead. So, while the hordes wait in line for their lattes, I’ll be nesting at home, curled up in a cozy chair with a book and a steaming cup of tea, sipping my daily bread.

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American Tea Room Brioche Organic Black Tea

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‘SKusmi While I Drink My Tea

Author: Kirsten K., Food & Drink, Hot Drinks, Tea

SKusmi 1Shortly after Kirsti and I had our life-changing brush with culinary violet on a trip to France several years ago, I was scouring the Internet in my never-ending quest for the perfect violet flavor when I came across Kusmi Violette tea. I had never heard of Kusmi, but as a regular tea drinker and newly-minted violet enthusiast, I immediately ordered a large canister. I was a little wary after the number of disappointments I’d had in my search for a true violet extract, but the contents of this tin did not let me down. The floral scent is delicate beneath the robust aroma of black tea, but it smells and tastes like real violets. The brew instantly became my favorite and has remained so to this day.

Based in Paris since 1917, the Kousmichoff company—shortened to Kusmi—was founded in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1867 and achieved success with its special tea blends, including one that became a favorite with the tsar. Even today, their gilded and vibrantly-colored packaging evokes the Baroque interiors of the Winter Palace and brings to mind steaming samovars and White Nights.

SKusmi 2Kusmi is known for its Russian tea blends, and when my friend Mika returned from a recent visit to the South of France, she surprised me with a sampler containing some of their most popular varieties: Anastasia, Bouquet of Flowers N˚108 (Kusmi’s oldest recipe and the choice of tsars), Christmas Tea, Imperial Label, Kashmir Tchai, Prince Vladimir, and St. Petersburg (both black and green versions). While I normally prefer loose tea, all of the blends are uniquely delicious and fresh in their individual muslin bags. I particularly enjoyed the Bouquet of Flowers N˚108, which combines Earl Grey with citrus fruits and flowers. If it’s good enough for the ruler of Imperial Russia…

Knowing that Kusmi’s Violette tea wasn’t just a one-hit wonder, and having eight other tempting varieties on hand to sip and savor, I hope you’ll ‘sKusmi while I drink my tea.

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Kusmi Tea

 

Kusmi teas are available in the States from the company’s U.S. website and can also be purchased at Amazon and a variety of online retailers.

 

A Bouquet of Tea Roses

Author: Kirsten K., Food & Drink, Hot Drinks, Tea

Rose Tea 1I don’t remember exactly how I was first introduced to Davidson’s teas, but the moment I first tasted one of their rose varieties, I knew I would never forget it. I initially purchased their Valentine Tea to serve to a group of friends on Valentine’s Day. Like Kirsti, I love anything rose-flavored, so the thought of sipping “rich organic Indian white tea, sprinkled with lovely organic scarlet roses and lightly scented with fragrant rose oil” caused me to swoon with anticipation.

It is rare when something exceeds your expectations, but this tea was everything I’d hoped for and more. I could smell the sweet scent of roses before I’d even opened the bag, and the tea itself was beautiful with its profusion of dried rose petals. I watched each guest inhale the perfumed steam rising from her teacup, then sigh in pleasure after taking a sip. Befitting the occasion, everyone fell in love with this tea.

Afterwards, I sat with the Davidson’s catalog and compiled a wish list. I quickly discovered that they offer two other rose-flavored varieties: Jasmine Rose green tea and Rose Congou black tea. Rose Tea 2Since jasmine is one of my favorites, I ordered the Jasmine Rose, while Kirsti asked me to get her a pound of the Rose Congou (which she shared, good friend that she is). Both contain the same aromatic rose oil and dried rose petals as the Valentine Tea, while each has its own individual character.

The Valentine Tea is perfect for those times when I prefer a lighter tea without a lot of caffeine. I enjoy the Jasmine Rose in the afternoons, when the green tea provides a little pick-me-up and the blend of jasmine and roses reminds me of strolling through a sun-warmed garden. The Rose Congou is my choice in the morning when I want to start the day with a more intense, eye-opening brew. All three teas are organic and taste wonderful iced.

Spring may be here with summer on its heels, but you can enjoy a bouquet of tea roses at any time of year with this tempting trio. Pinkies up!

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Davidson’s Organic Valentine Tea
Davidson’s Organic Jasmine Rose Tea
Davidson’s Organic Rose Congou Tea

 

 

Pretty in Pink

Author: Kirsten K., Food & Drink, Hot Drinks, Tea

Pretty in Pink 1Prepare to swoon over this blushing brew, which smells like caramel, tastes like candied almonds, and provides an unexpected pop of color. In its dry state, the Caramel Almond Amaretti tea from Teavana is beautiful enough to use as potpourri. Pretty in Pink 2A fragrant medley including chopped cinnamon sticks, dried apple and coconut, the blend has the warm shades of toffee and honey, which give no hint to the vibrant color of the final brew. On its own, the steeped tea is a hot pink, while the addition of milk transforms it into the soft hue of cotton candy. In either case, it’s a showstopper. Set it out at your next tea party and watch guests marvel at the transformation, or just treat yourself—you deserve it! The intoxicating aroma and warm, comforting flavor make this a swoon-worthy tea to have on hand.

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Teavana Caramel Almond Amaretti Tea