It is the final Teatime Tuesday of February, and I have saved my favorite dessert tea of the bunch for last! The tea this week is another from the fall/winter seasonal samplers I picked up from Art of Tea, Dark Chocolate Peppermint.
This tea is comprised of organic pu-erh tea, organic cacao nibs, organic peppermint, organic pink peppercorn, and natural flavors. It has a very strong chocolate peppermint scent that is simply wonderful when you first open up the package!
Pu-ehr is a dark tea, a variety of fermented tea produced in Yunnan province, China, that is a bit different than what the west considers “black tea,” and this tea is actually my first experience with pu-ehr! Pu-ehr is caffeinated, so I made my first cup of this one morning at work, and decided to try out the Art of Tea Filter Bags that came inside the sampler box I bought. These are empty tea bags that can be filled with your desired amount of looseleaf tea, and they are sealed shut tightly with a simple drawstring.
I found that the filter bag worked out really well! My Apace Loose Leaf Tea Strainers that I love so much are at home (and even though they come two to a pack, I always seem to have at least two teas in rotation at home, so I just can’t bring myself to take one to work) so these filter bags were a very handy option at the work place, especially when I don’t have a lot of time there to clean up strainers. The only disadvantage of the filter bags to the steel strainers I use at home is that if you don’t resteep your teabag quickly and it dries out, it can tear, which happened to me once, wasting a few resteeps I could’ve still had with the leaves inside of it. I have to be careful when I lay them out on my coaster so they don’t dry out in a strange shape so I can reuse my leaves to maximum potential. Other than that, it worked great; the initial sealing of the bag left no floaters in the cup!
The recommended water temperature for this tea is 206 degrees F, but since my kettle does 200 F or 212 F (boiling), I typically prepare this tea just using boiling water (and at work, I just have to settle for microwave nuking, alas!) I steep a full tablespoon of leaves for five minutes, and you get a nice, dark cup of tea that has a lovely peppermint scent.
That tea would not be keeping my Dewey Decimal reference books company for long!
This month I’ve been talking a lot about love, and what can I say? I loved this tea. I’m not normally big on black teas, so maybe it was just the difference in taste between this being my first pu-ehr compared to a typical black, or just the amazing flavoring of this tea, but it was absolutely fantastic! This tea reminds me so much of having a York Peppermint Patty in a cup; you can taste subtle chocolate tones with this strong, vibrantly fresh burst of refreshing peppermint. I’d say the mint is a bit stronger than the chocolate, but overall, the flavor is really exquisite! If you are a fan of chocolate mint, you are bound to like this. The only downside, in my opinion, is that it can’t be enjoyed in the evening because of the caffeine content. I liked it so much that the little sampler was gone in no time, and I simply had to order more from Art of Tea before it was gone, since it is a seasonal tea!
A sample pouch of this tea is only $5.00, which isn’t much to just give it a try. If you like it and want more, the next available size is the 4 oz. pouch that I have pictured above, which is $23.00, so Art of Tea is a bit on the spendy side. That said, the four ounces of tea is a lot, and I know that pouch is going to be lasting me for a while! It is also great they offer the samplers, so you can try a tea out before having to commit to a large bag of it; I absolutely love tea sites that have that option!
Compared to the Chocolate Strawberry Black Tea I reviewed on Valentine’s Day, which I admitted just did not resteep well at all, this tea actually does, which surprised me! I have no idea if that has to do with the pu-ehr leaves (I just like drinking tea, I’m admittedly no expert!), or if it is because the flavoring was less chocolately than the Chocolate Strawberry one (which had lots of chocolate in it, but used artifical flavoring for the strawberry, and the chocolate melted out on the first steep), and more minty, and the mint flavoring in this is still very potent after several cups. I find I’m still enjoying the same infusion for three cups or so.
To wrap up this month on the myriad friendships that fill my life with so much love, I’d like to take a moment to focus on online friendships and online communities. Too often I feel like people simply dismiss those wonderful friendships that we make online as somehow being “less” just because they aren’t “local,” and I have never quite understood this. As long as two people share a common interest, as long as they connect with each other, as long as they get along, enrich each other’s lives, and bring joy to each other, how is that friendship any “less” than any other friendship? I absolutely loathe the term “in real life” as meaning “something offline” or “separate from” the Internet, and absolutely refuse to use it. I’m not any less real when I’m online, nor is anyone else, and our activities online and the people we interact with are real and part of our real lives. It just feels demeaning that this term is so commonly used. If a distinction must be made, I say my “online friend” or my “local friend” as honestly, it’s only the location that is any different. Nothing else about the relationship changes for me.
In fact, my best friend, Todd, who I talked about on Teatime Tuesday a few weeks ago, I met online! We met in an Internet Relay Chat, and that is still the main way we keep in touch, as he lives in California, and I live in Idaho. We meet up 2-4 times every year to go on vacation together, because we enjoy doing so. But how we act with each other in our little IRC chatroom, with the other regulars there, who feel like a second family to me, is no different than how we act when we go on vacation. The activities we are able to do are different because of the distance, but the topics we discuss, the friendly banter we share, the comfort we provide each other, none of that changes.
I really love the community I’ve found at the Sims forums. I realize there are areas of it that are less friendly than others, but the Stories and Legacies and Sims 4 Stories and Legacies sections are filled with so many good people, and I feel like I’ve made some very good friends I never would have made if I hadn’t thought one day, “You know, none of my friends will read my stories just because I put pictures of Sims on them. Where can I go to share this hobby that I enjoy so much? If my friends don’t like this just because of the Sims images… would Simmers like it?” Not only did I find Simmers to share this part of myself with, but I discovered a whole world of Simlit I didn’t know existed! And I’m forever grateful for that!
Sometime around the fall of 2015, I also really got into watching Twitch.tv. I don’t have “actual” TV in my house, and have always preferred Let’s Plays, internet reviewers, and streamed content instead. With my headache issues, I never really “made the leap” into 3D gaming (I’m a 2D retro gamer through and through) but I’m typically okay watching others play games, and enjoy the storylines in them… and I found that, in many of the smaller channels on Twitch, they were amazing, friendly communities, too. I’m a big fan of survival horror games like Silent Hill and Fatal Frame, and really got into streamers like Nubzombie, aneternalenigma (who just barely got his partnership over the last few weeks!), and DaRabidDuckie. The horror game community shared by these three great guys was so welcoming, friendly, and amazing, and now jumping in their streams in the evening and visiting the the regulars there feels like another family to me.
My favorite thing to do when I put a stream on, is to listen podcast-style (I find the voices relaxing… is that weird?) while I color! I’ll glance up and watch when things are getting really interesting in the game, then go back to my coloring when things are slower and more relaxed… and chat occassionally when I need a break. I find it extremely relaxing and a great way to unwind, coloring and chatting with my “Twitch family.” I’ve been working through this coloring book at the moment:
And yes, that rock is an essential part of my nightly coloring ritual, I use it to hold the pages flat if the book curls, hahaha! I also always have a few pages of plain paper under the picture I’m working on, to make sure I don’t get any bleeding from my gel pens, and to cushion the next page because I tend to press hard with pencils. It’s also great as a palette page for me to test colors! I number my pens, and will take notes in the margin of the scratch paper of what numbered pens I used so I can make sure I grab the same colors later so I don’t accidentally pick the wrong shade later!
Here are a few pictures that I’ve colored during Twitch streaming sessions (I hope to share more on further Teatimes!) Forgive my old digital camera, which blurs things a bit and doesn’t have the best lighting, it is from the early ’00s. (No, I don’t own a cellphone at all, let alone one with a camera on it! I work with what I’ve got, folks…)
I did this deer mostly in colored pencil, with only a few parts in gel pen… but gel pens are my coloring love! I have an unhealthy addiction to collecting them. So I don’t color with colored pencils very often, to be honest.
I’ve been really enjoying mandalas recently, and here is one I did entirely in gel pen. Sadly the camera doesn’t do the best job picking up the glittery tones, but you can still tell how shiny it is, and I just love that. I love the way the ink flows and the different glossy, mettallic, or glittery shines of the ink depending on the pen after it dries. Big full page mandalas like that can take me a few months to complete, but somehow it feels really satisfying… sadly, they really drain my pens, too! The one I’m working on now I’m filling the background with colored pencil and only doing the main pieces in pen, just to keep from using a lot of ink on the background fill!
Thank you for joining me for another month of tea! Next month, for March, Teatime Tuesday and Photo Friday will receive a green theme! (I’m a St. Patrick’s Day baby, I can’t help it!) Look forward to several green tea blends next month, and perhaps a little Irish Breakfast in honor of a certain March holiday. ^_~