Friday, March 14, 2008

Candy Bar Tea tasting

Back in January, I wrote about discovering the book "The Ultimate Tea Diet" whose author, Mark Ukra, runs the Tea Garden and Herbal Emporium in West Hollywood. His book mentioned his Candy Bar Tea blend, with real chocolate right in the mix, and I said I'd like to try it but found it a bit pricey - $12.50 for a small 2.5 ounce tin, plus $6.50 for shipping.

To my surprise, Anne in California, who had read the blog post, had tried the tea, didn't think it was that great, and offered to send me her nearly-new tin of Candy Bar Tea if I still wanted to try it. I was delighted! (Tea friends are generous of heart and spirit, I have found.) Anyway, while I waited for the tea to arrive, I was curious whether I'd agree with Anne's assessment. And you know what? I did. The tea LOOKS good with those little bits of chocolate and caramel rolling around, but once I made a cup, it wasn't nearly as flavorful as I'd expected. So, Anne pretty much saved me $19, because I'm sure I would have caved and ordered some eventually. (Although from a tea tin collector's point of view, I should mention that I really like their tea tins, with the inner seal and the TG logo on top of the tin, so Anne's sweet gift will last long after the tea is gone.)

But a funny thing happened on the way to this blog post. A few weeks ago, when I bought the latest tea press (the two-cup-size pink one), I had it at the office one afternoon and decided to try some of the Candy Bar Tea again. I used two teaspoons of tea, and this time the flavor was much more pronounced, which surprised me. I've never really noticed a difference in a tea's taste from when I made one cup versus two or more, but this time, the difference was very noticeable. Is that a fluke? Anyone else experienced this? It definitely gave me something to think about. Next time I try a new tea I think is a little on the weak side, I may try a larger batch and see how that affects the flavor. (And again, special thanks to Anne for making this testing possible.)


  1. Looking at this post in conjunction with the responses to the one below a several things come to mind.
    1. In "olden days" tea was more expensive than gold. It was kept under lock and key. The family of the manor or whatever got the first brewing, then the servants could use those same leaves.
    2. The rules for "the perfect cup of tea" never allow for that second brewing, are carefully measured with a tea caddy spoon, steeped, then strained into a second pot. (Therefore, there are no leaves in the cup for tea leaf readings, heck, there goes the fun...)
    3. There is another method called the "counting method" which is roughly, "One for you, one for me, and one for the pot." With this method, old leaves are kept for the day and with each new pot of tea, simply add "one for the pot."
    4. Additionally, often I have seen the teapot and yet another pot which is full of plain boiled water. I have never quite figured out just how this part works in the scheme of things, unless the tea gets bitter or is too strong. Maybe somebody who reads this blog knows.
    5. Then one must consider the matter of milk and sugar and its use for different teas varies. For example for a proper Russian Caravan tea, you need yak's milk...I don't have a yak, so I've never tried it. Now with your luck, I'll just bet that if YOU wanted to try it, some tea drinker would actually see to it you got the yak's milk, if not the yak, as well!

  2. I don't know much about lose leaf tea, since I've only used the bags, but I notice that depending on the size of the cup, the tea can taste completely different. I have tried a chocolate chai from Good Earth, which does taste like chocolate, but I've noticed I need it to be stronger so I use a specific cup since that holds just the right amount of water. Some teas I specifically want to use a certain mug, not because I'm crazy, but because its exactly how I want my tea to taste.

    I'm in the mode of "try it twice" when it comes to tea. Try it once to see if I like it, try it again just to make sure.

    Your blog is on my daily readings, thanks for posting!

  3. Could this be the same Anne from California I recently featured this week at Tea Party Girl? ;-) She is SUCH a special lady.

  4. Indeed it IS the same Anne! And I was so happy to see her photo on your blog. She's as lovely in body as she is in spirit. Nice to have a "face" for my new friend! Thanks!

  5. I just wanted to chime in on #4 on Anonymous's post. In the Victorian era it was common to have a pot of hot water available for guests. If they found the tea to be too strong they could add hot water to their cup to create a weaker brew.

    Also, most tea instructions are based on a 6 ounce cup. That's why you'll notice a big difference depending on what size cup you are using. You should adjust your amounts accordingly (or find the amounts that you like best!)

    Second, third, and even fourth infusions of tea are pretty common with some kinds of tea, particularly some greens. (Tea Guy Speaks did an interesting piece on this recently.) But, you need to do the infusions pretty close together in time or it can be unsafe (Wet leaves sitting around can certainly be a breeding ground for bacteria.)

    Katrina - The Tea Pages


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