Welcome back, tea lovers! This week I have something a little different in store, and rather than featuring another looseleaf out of my collection (not to worry, there are still plenty of weeks of the year for plenty more teas!) I thought I would try out an instant tea mix. I don’t have very many instant tea mixes in my collection, but this one, DeDe’s Instant Thai Tea with Cream/Sugar was of interest to me because I am a huge fan of the sweet iced Thai tea served in Thai restaurants. These instant tea packets are not something I’ve noticed in my culturally-lacking area; they were kindly donated to me by my IRC-friend Tim. Thanks so much, Tim!
These instant Thai tea packets are similar to instant hot cocoa packets; empty the dry contents into a cup, add hot water, mix, and get tea! The instructions say it can be enjoyed hot or cold. The ingredients are sugar, non-dairy creamer (glucose syrup, palm kernel oil, sodium caseinate from milk), instant Thai tea powder 2.5%, and artificial color FD&C yellow #6. Since it contains milk products, it is not Vegan-friendly, and those that are lactose-sensitive may need to take heed. Those with food coloring sensitivities should also be careful. (Note that adding coloring to Thai tea to give it an orange color is typical, even with Thai teas steeped directly from leaves and served in restaurants! I do realize it may be a bit of a cultural oddity to some tea drinkers).
The directions said to use 200ml of hot water, but when I did this, I found it only filled about half of my cup. I do realize I drink tea from coffee cups rather than the smaller-sized teacups, but it seemed a bit of a waste. I did take a drink, and really enjoyed the flavor! I really love the Thai tea I have at Thai restaurants, but have only ever been served it over ice, typically with either milk or half-and-half in the glass to make it thick and frothy, and it has always been a very cool, sweet, enjoyable drink. I have never even thought about drinking it hot, and was surprised to find how delicious it was as a warm drink! I like that the packets were already pre-sweetened and creamed, which I realize may be a downside to some, but they had just the right flavor without me needing to fumble with adding sugar and half-and-half to get it right; it was perfect exactly as-is. But that half-cup bothered me…
I added more water so it was up to the brim, and adding more hot water did not change the flavor at all, in my opinion. So fill that cup up, I say!
I am incredibly amused that the bright orange color of the Thai tea matches my Powell’s City of Books mug so perfectly…
The instructions said that this tea could also be enjoyed iced, and since that is how I normally drink my Thai tea in restaurants, I figured I’d experiment a bit and try it out. Eh… I wasn’t too impressed. Now, I will say that I have never been able to make a good cup of iced tea. It has always been the bane of my existance, and something I am trying desperately to figure out. (If you have some secret tips for me, please let me know! Especially for making a quick cup rather than having to do an overnight steep!) Something about just pouring a warm tea over ice, it just always feels… meh to me. Especially this particular tea. It just didn’t have the same magic as the iced Thai teas I get in restaurants. With a looseleaf tea, you can add more leaf to create a really strong brew to offset the melting ice, and I wonder if, with this instant packet being a pre-sized mix, it was just too easy to dilute from the ice. It wasn’t bad, it just didn’t hold up compared to the iced Thai drinks I’ve had in the past, and I found I liked it better when I had it warm… and I was honestly really surprised by just how good it was warm! If I ever get my hands on more of this stuff — which honestly shouldn’t be too difficult, as I’ve discovered it is available as a twelve-pack on Amazon for just under $7 — I may try using two packets to make it iced… you know, for science. But if it still fails to hit the spot compared to the restaurant brews, I think I’ll just stick to the warm drink, because it was really fantastic.
If you’ve never tried Thai tea, I’d highly recommend giving it a try! It’s really sweet and creamy, and honestly, if it came down to grabbing instant cocoa or this, I would pick this, every time, now that I’ve tried it!
If you recall last week’s teatime, I said that myself and some coworkers were going to hold a tea party in honor of British National Tea Day (albeit a day early because I had to be away at a library conference last Friday on the proper date!) Allow me to share some photos of the event!
Katie, who frequently gives me samples for this blog (including the Irish Breakfast tea I featured previously), brought one of her tea sets. As you have probably noticed from reading this blog, I enjoy blends (teas with a lot of different ingredients for a varied flavor), while Katie enjoys pure teas (teas that are pure tea leaves from various different regions/estates). She especially likes pure black teas, which is what she freely steeped in her little pot. I believe it was a ceylon tea. She sweetened her cuppa with some sugar and a dash of half-and-half.
She made cucumber sandwiches to go with the tea! A classic tea sandwich to be sure, but I am not a fan of cucumbers so I brought my own sandwich. I have no doubt they were delicious, though. (Just look at them!) She also brought cupcakes! (Because cupcakes. No other reason needed).
You will probably recall Cody, who has appeared on my Blogaversary stories, and a few of my other short stories. He is a long-time friend (we go back to long before he became a coworker of mine at the library!) and he is the master of baking, notorious for his legendary cookies. But we figured a proper British teatime called for scones rather than biscuits, and did Cody ever deliver! He did half plain, and half with dried cranberries. Of course I had to have one of each.
This is just a small sampling of my current tea collection that I brought to the event! I couldn’t decide what tea to bring and ended up bringing a few of each type… a couple blacks, greens, herbals, rooibos, even my one yerba mate! Most of them were ones I’d tried before (so I could at least tell others what they tasted like) but I did bring one I hadn’t tried yet to sample for myself, which was a black tea called Lady Londonberry from Tea Chai Te, a teashop I visited in Portland, Oregon. I won’t talk about it too much here since I plan to review it properly sometime, but it was really delicious! It had a berry and lemon flavor to it and I quite enjoyed it! Cody tried the Sweet Lavender herbal tea, as well as Katie’s strong black tea! (He was dumping so much of my vanilla almond milk into it, it was kinda cute, hahaha!)
It was surprisingly hard to get many of our coworkers to try out teas, which was a little disheartening. I got one to try my Blood Orange Smoothie Rooibos with some vanilla almond milk (which tastes just like dreamsicle ice cream) and she just complained about the water being “too hot” to drink it (which I get time and time again from non-tea drinkers… I find this so odd because I never find a nice, steamy cup freshly brewed from boiling water “too hot.” I’ve had coffee drinks from espresso machines at cafes burn my tongue before, but never a cup of tea… but most people I know say, “I can’t even drink a cup of tea unless it sits there for 30 minutes cooling off.” Does anyone else encounter this problem? Do we tea drinkers just get desensitized to it or something?) A volunteer in my department tried that same tea (she is a frequent coffee/tea drinker and had no temperature complaints) and she loved the flavor of the tea! She enjoyed it both latte-style and plain. I had one other coworker who normally drinks coffee in the morning and said he’d be down to try some and asked for the “strongest thing I had.” I made him my Vanilla Macademia Nut Yerba Mate. I was surprised… he really liked it! He even resteeped his teabag for another cup! But at the end of the day he had a light red rash on his arms, and I was scared he may have had an allergic reaction, having never had those South American plant leaves! (Meep!) It cleared up over night (thank goodness!) and he said he’d be willing to try it again sometime to see if it happened again, just to be sure. What a trooper. Has anyone ever heard of someone actually having an allergy to certain types of tea leaves? (I suppose it must be possible…)
I also brought some chocolate chip pumpkin bread, but with all the other goodies, it wasn’t needed, heh.
And just to show we did have some healthy options at our tea party, there was some fruit available! …Though I still say the cranberries in the scones should totally count.
All in all, it was a lot of fun! I barely had time to eat because I was so busy making tea for people!
And that wraps up another month of teatimes! Next month the theme is May Flowers, and I will be featuring floral blends! Hope to see you then!