Category Archives: Flavored Tea

Camellia sinensis leaves with additional items (spices, flowers, fruits, nuts, etc.).

Reviewing Our Reviews of Boston Tea Co. Teas

We had the honor, my humans and I, a few years back to try a number of teas from the Boston Tea Company and thought that a review was in order. TOOOT! Continue reading Reviewing Our Reviews of Boston Tea Co. Teas

Our Favorite Version of Spiced Chai

That time of year is at hand when those spiced teas, often simply called “chai” here in the U.S., appear in tea shops – both the brick-and-mortar and the online kind. We totally understand. There is something about these teas that appeals to us tea drinkers especially as the weather starts to turn cooler. At our house we have a favorite version of the many out there. We find it typifies the real appeal of this style of tea and so wanted to share our views with you here. Continue reading Our Favorite Version of Spiced Chai

Harvest Time Hurrahs!

There’s no wonder that at this time of year, people across the country are exuding harvest time hurrahs. Harvest is an important time in the lives of mankind. It means food, drink, clothing (cotton, etc.), and just about everything around us. Continue reading Harvest Time Hurrahs!

Celebrating Tapioca Day with Pearl Milk Tea Recipes

Pearl milk tea (some call it “bubble tea” or “boba tea”) is a sweet concoction that originated in Asian countries. The main feature is the layer of tapioca pearls lurking in the bottom of the glass, just waiting for you to suck them up through the straw and enjoy their chewy goodness. On Tapioca Day, therefore, it is fitting to prepare some of this style of tea beverage and enjoy it to the max. So, we have gathered here some great recipes found around the Internet. Enjoy! Continue reading Celebrating Tapioca Day with Pearl Milk Tea Recipes

Our Version of a Lord Grantham of Downton Abbey Tea Time

by Little Yellow Teapot (a tea steeping marvel and occasional contributing author)

My humans are not aristocracy. In fact, here in the USA we have no aristocracy. So they had to imagine what tea time would be like for a lord of the manor. And they were sure that Lord Grantham’s tea time would certainly be special. The first step was the tea, and from there all seemed to fall into place.

WiT_RofT_LordGBkfstBlndD1 Continue reading Our Version of a Lord Grantham of Downton Abbey Tea Time

Is It “Bubble Tea” or “Pearl Milk Tea”?

Warmer weather in the U.S. usually means iced tea, sweet tea, and a tea drink that is growing in popularity here (as well as in Europe). It is sometimes called “bubble tea” and sometimes “pearl milk tea” (or “boba milk tea”). Having spent many years as a technical writer where the difference between “hit Enter” and “press the Enter key” were important (especially since some people take things rather literally), I’m going, just for the fun of it, to pick apart both names. Sit back, relax, sip your tea, and take a linguistic journey.

Jasmine Delight Bubble Tea
Jasmine Delight Bubble Tea

A bubble is a filmy substance or one that is fairly elastic but with good atomic bonds that forms a sphere around some air. Soap bubbles, chewing gum bubbles, and carbonation bubbles are some examples. So are those little bubbles on the top of your tea (hot or cold) when you pour it fast. Here’s the definition on Thefreedictionary.com. (I simplified things for this article.)

A pearl, in contrast, is solid. It is also spherical (sometimes). True pearls are those iridescent beauties created by clams when some irritant gets inside their shell. We call various things “pearls” since (a) they are spherical and usually about the size of a salt-water pearl (fresh-water pearls are more irregularly shaped), or (b) because it’s more poetic and/or colorful than saying “sphere” or “ball.” Would you like to drink a tea named “Dragon spheres” or named “Dragon pearls”? As is often the case with marketing, words matter.

Based on the above, I’m thinking that “pearl milk tea” is a more accurate term. But wait, there’s more to this.

My guess (and one supported by various online sources) is that the term “bubble tea” is a mispronunciation of “boba.” Of course, it could just be that someone thought it seemed more fun and whimsical to say “bubble” than “pearl.” Or it could possibly be another of those translation mix-ups. The English language has around 100,000 words, or so it is claimed by many linguists, and many of these words are subtly different to us but translate as meaning the same thing in other languages. When going from those languages to English, therefore, they are presented with a host of options and do their best to pick the right one. Not always successfully. Based on the mispronunciation theory, “bubble tea” is just as accurate as “pearl milk tea.” No easy answers, darn it!

What Those “Bubble Tea” Bubbles Really Are

Another version of Bubble tea
Another version of Bubble tea

Pretty simple here. They are chewy tapioca balls. The Chinese slang term for them is bōbà (波霸) meaning “large breasts.” Seriously! I couldn’t make up something like that if I tried. Tapioca is a starch from a plant that originated in Northern Brazil called Manioc (Manihot esculenta). It proved so popular, that the plant was soon being cultivated throughout South America. Traders and explorers brought some of these plants with them to other ports of call in the West Indies, Africa, Asia, the Philippines, and Taiwan. The Taiwanese were the ones to start using it in this tea-based drink (usually Taiwanese black tea). Milk, fruit, and ice are other common ingredients, with a wide variety of flavors available. Green tea versions have become popular, too, as people started touted green tea as healthier than black tea (the jury is still out on that, with some recent studies supporting the claim and others contradicting it).

No matter what you call it, give some a try as warm weather approaches. It’s sort of a drinkable tapioca pudding that has tea in it. Wow!

There’s No Such Thing as “Chai Tea”

This is actually two articles in one. The first is Chai Tea at the Indian Restaurant, posted in April 2010. The second is Tea Terminology — “Chai Tea” vs. “Masala Chai”, posted in November 2012. I saw a post on Facebook on this topic and thought what the heck, time to revisit my take on this. The topic seems to be one of those that bears repeating. Again. And again. And again. Continue reading There’s No Such Thing as “Chai Tea”

A Blooming Tea That’s a Bust!

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All that glitters is not gold, and all that looks like a blooming tea is not satisfactory. Or so hubby and I found out recently. The experience also confirmed what we’d been suspecting for some time now: blooming teas are a gimmick. That doesn’t make them bad, but they are certainly not your daily (or in my case hourly) cuppa. Time to give you the details.

WiT_SpgCupFlwrgA1First, a blooming tea can be in several shapes. This one is mostly spherical. Note the indentation around the middle where a string was probably tied at one point. The tea leaves are carefully selected by hand and then sewn together with thin string. They are supposed to be made in such a way that they open (or “bloom”) like a flower, and they often have a dried flower in the middle that is revealed as the tea leaves swell and fold away from that center.

That’s how it’s supposed to go……

This blooming tea was a green tea with a purple mallow flower in the center. So we used water heated to about 175°F, placed the blooming tea dry ball into a glass cup, poured in the water, and waited… and waited… and waited…

Time to point out that the main reason for even bothering with a blooming tea is the show it’s supposed to put on. This tea was a major disappointment in that department. And the reason became evident as the bloom opened. The flower was being strangled inside the tea leaves by more string.

WiT_SpgCupFlwrgC1a

And we didn’t get to see this until the tea had steeped for …… are you sitting down? okay …… SIX AND A HALF MINUTES!!! Yes, it took that long for the bloom to open this far. Ideally, green teas steep for no longer than 3 minutes. Our tastebuds were braced for the worst as we removed the spent “bloom” and took a sip.

WiT_SpgCupFlwrgC1

The good part of the story is that the tea wasn’t too bad. Not the best we’d ever had but not the worst. We just wish it had put on a better show. Sigh!

Oh, in case you’re wondering, these are purple mallow flowers:

purple mallow flowers

Disclaimer: all items were furnished by the vendor but all opinions expressed here are totally unbiased.

© 2015 A.C. Cargill photos and text

Diving into More Flavored Teas and Tea Blends – Part III

by Little Yellow Teapot (a tea steeping marvel and occasional contributing author)

Don’t miss Part I and Part II!

Time for the final 4 of those 10 tea samples from a local vendor. My humans and I have been, quite frankly, a bit astonished, which doesn’t happen much lately. Time to see if these last 4 teas will bring the same reaction. TOOOOOT!

The Third Batch – Four Teas

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Continue reading Diving into More Flavored Teas and Tea Blends – Part III

Diving into More Flavored Teas and Tea Blends – Part II

by Little Yellow Teapot (a tea steeping marvel and occasional contributing author)

Don’t miss Part I and Part III!

We’re here for the second batch of teas from that set of 10 samples from a local vendor. In Part I you saw how pleased my humans were with those first 3 teas. Time to see how these teas do.

The Second Batch – Three Teas

WiT_JAS_DAVbatchA456-1 Continue reading Diving into More Flavored Teas and Tea Blends – Part II