Friday, February 28, 2014

Current Favorite Teas and Dark Chocolate

While the Anti Make-up Phase is still going strong (and by the way, thank you for all the amazing comments - you guys are obviously my tribe!), I thought I'd entertain you with a little non-beauty favorites post, focusing on my favorite teas and dark chocolate bars of the moment. Because let's face it: if I don't blog about them now, there soon will be nothing left to blog about in the first place :)
You may know from my '30 Random Facts About Me' post that I'm a discerning coffee drinker, but I actually drink more tea than coffee, and my tea consumption reaches about 4 mugs a day in the depths of winter - I just like hot drinks in my cold, cold belleh! I do try to moderate my caffeine intake, so some of the teas you'll see here are of the herbal variety. Recently, my husband also got me really into dark chocolate (I used to be a milk chocolate kind of girl, and Lindt's bars are still among my favorites) and now a nice hot cup of tea with some dark chocolate is my all-round favorite treat.
Let's start with the ever-so-popular David's Tea. One of the benefits of moving to New York is that we now have access to a physical David's Tea store and are able to smell all the goodies in person. My general impression of David's is that while they do have some wonderfully tasty teas, unfortunately some of the varieties they carry smell better than they taste (looking at you, chamomile-laden Mango Lassi!), but you know, there's always a bit of trial and error with previously untested teas.
David's Tea Organic Cream of Earl Grey (black tea with vanilla and bergamot flavor) is my ultimate favorite for the mornings. I think Earl Grey is a bit like Marmite in that some people love it and some people hate it, but if you enjoy this classic variety, try to hunt down something with a touch of vanilla as well. I also like Adagio Tea's Earl Grey Moonlight, which has the same taste profile.
Next up, a little night time treat: David's Tea Jessie's Tea, which is a rooibos blend with coconut and lavender. Jessie's Tea is a case of something that sounds pretty weird on paper, but tastes really good in reality - you get the slightly sweet, grassy notes of rooibos, creaminess of coconut and a bit medicinal, relaxing lavender finish.
Lastly from David's Tea, the unassumingly-named Citron Oolong. We bought it to replace sadly discontinued seasonal Tangerine green tea, and I love it just as much. Oolong ('black dragon' in Chinese) is a variety that sits somewhere in between green and black tea, and this blend is scented with jasmine (those are actual jasmine flowers you can see in the photo!), lemon myrtle and citrus essences. I'd also like a matchng perfume, please.
Now for an old favorite: Adagio Tea's Thai Chai. It's a comforting, warming black chai tea blended with coconut, lemongrass, cinnamon, ginger and cardamom. This particular blend differs from most chai teas in that it has the light freshness of coconut and lemongrass. I don't usually take my tea with milk, but I find that this benefits from a little splash to mellow out the spice and bring out the Thai flavors.
Now for the newest favorite: Mountain Rose Herbs Hibiscus High Tea. This is obviously an herbal tea (or what the French like to call 'tisane') - a blend of hibiscus flowers, lemongrass, mint, rose petals and orange peel. It tastes sweet, fresh, fruity, slightly cooling with lemongrass and mint; I actually need to try it as iced tea, I bet it would be pretty fantastic. It's a good substitute for fruit juice in the winter months, but quite difficult to get hold of (only available online from Mountain Rose Herbs store, and I found the shipping to be pretty extortionate), so I might move on to a diffrent hibiscus infusion after I finish this box.
Time for dark chocolate noms! Gourmet dark chocolate can get very expensive very quickly, so here's a little online shopping tip: I get my dark chocolate bars from Vitacost (this is my referral link, if you care for it*) - I find their prices a lot lower than any grocery store around me, Whole Foods included, and they have a very nice selection of fair trade, single origin, oftentimes organic dark chocolate. Their customer service is pretty outstanding and they have lightning fast shipping!
Madécasse is a Madagascar chocolate brand we've been buying for a long time now.  My older favorite is Citrus & Pink Pepper (63% pure cocoa) for it's bright, subtle spiciness, but now I've been cheating on it with Sea Salt & Nibs (63% cocoa) - it's a bit bolder, less sweet, with the delightful saltiness and crunchy texture from cacao nibs. Yum! Husband also really likes hot Cinnamon & Chili Pepper variety.
Our favorite inexpensive discovery: Equal Exchange Chocolates in Organic Very Dark Chocolate (71% cacao content) and Organic Panama Extra Dark (80% cacao). I used to dislike very dark chocolate because I often found a strange bitter/sour taste to it; these two have none of that, just super intense, concentrated cocoa flavor with a hint of vanilla bean. You really have to let a piece melt in your mouth a bit to savour all the amazing chocolate-ness of these... no rushing! Between the two of us, we go through a couple bars a week.
Let's wrap this up with a little bonus treat - my current favorite pastry. This is Tarte Framboise Meringuée from Maison Eric Kayser bakery here in New York. So far, I've found this international bakery chain to be the only one to properly execute a French tarte pastry; the crust has to be buttery and uhm, crusty, and this version (not to be confused with the regular Tarte Framboise, which comes with vanilla cream filling and no meringue) has a sweet and sour lemon cream, meringue AND fresh raspberries on top. Simply indulgent. Get their Torte de Meule, a large sourdough bread, and some Mini Cereales bread rolls while you're there.

Let me know in the comments your favorite teas and dark chocolate of the moment, or any other treat for that matter! I love discovering new things through your suggestions, and I need to replete my stocks pretty soon :) Also, if you're craving more tea reviews, especially of the bagged variety, check out my older tea favorites right here.

*Disclaimer: If you use my referral link to make a purchase at Vitacost.com, we will both receive a $10 coupon off of a minimum $30 purchase. You don't have to use my link - but it IS a nice deal. I'm not affiliated with or sponsored by Vitacost, I just genuinely like their service.

8 comments:

  1. Oh, those teas are gorgeous! Funny, my family's from a village in Taiwan named Oolong (same characters), and in Chinese Oolong is also slang for "stuff up" or "made a hash of things".

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    1. Hahah, too funny! Thanks for letting me know :)

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  2. Have you tried Chocolats Pralus chocolate? I like their Pure origin chocolate bars collection, They all taste different depending on where the beans are grown, amazing stuff.

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    1. I haven't, thank you so much for the recommendation! We'll definitely try to track it down :)

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  3. *swoons* This post is my happy place!
    Your exquisite prose and photography + some of my favourite things? *rereads for upteenth time*
    I am trying to get into Pu-Erh teas at the moment. Fascinating and complex but often takes up too much of my attention, and interferes with snacks! So I'm taking breaks with very light Bai Mu Dan (white peony -- a bit more body and fragrance than standard white teas, but still airy and fragrant) which goes perfectly with crusty bread, salted butter and rose jam :D

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    1. Thank you, dear! <3 Mr was really into Pu-Erhs for a while but to me the hay aftertaste is a bit too pronounced... he really likes the rather niche tea varieties anyway, Lapsang Suochong is one of his favorites. Bai Mu Dan sounds amazing, and umm, crusty bread with butter and rose jam?! When can I come over? ;)

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  4. i agree with you. i go to Davids Tea quite offten and its my only real tea place but they smell more awesome than they taste sometimes AND the majority of them are blends of aritificial or 'natural' flavorings...which makes me think its not really tea but juice that i'm making.
    i usually go for their more pure teas and the kenyan tinderet and milk oolong is a must. the citrus oolong too but you have to try the milk. its amazingly creamy and full. and it steeps well the next day too!

    if you have the chance, check out Mighty Leaf teas. they sell them at grocery or specialty shops. its a pretty expensive brand but i've never tasted such quality. i know you can buy them online as well..

    as for chocolate. within teh last 5 yeas, i've been completely converted to dark chocolate. i eat about 80-90% grade dark now and milk is too sweet for me :P

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  5. I've never heard of David's Tea, thanks for sharing it with us! My fave tea.. ugh, lots, really. But my fave dark chocolate is from La Maison du Chocolat or from Vosges Chocolate (both have stores in NYC). Let me know if you decide to try them!

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