I missed the last Tandem Tea Tasting because of prior writer-related obligations, but promised (crossed my heart and everything!) that I would be there this time ‘round. That and I felt it mandatory, since Rachel “IHeartTeas” Carter had sent me samples to contribute. To not go would mean being a chump.
To recap: Tandem Tea Tastings are a monthly Google Hangout event where I and four women try one type of tea, and go on various tangents based upon said tea. Hilari-“tea” usually ensues.
The only obstacle in my way for this tasting was…well…work. While this week’s tasting fell on one of my days off, I decided to pick up extra hours in the afternoon. I’d arranged to be off by 5:30PM, thus giving me a half-hour of rush hour traffic-braving.
It wasn’t enough time; it took me forty minutes to drive twelve miles.
As soon as I got home, I put the kettle on, rinsed out my steeper cups, and joined the chat. I was ten minutes late, even with all the rushing. The gals were well within conversation. In attendance were the aforementioned Rachel (at her very Racheliest), Nicole “Tea for Me Please” Martin, Darlene “Tea Lovers Archive” Meyers-Perry, and a newcomer. Julia Arrasmith-Matson of Bingley’s Teas was sitting and sipping with us this fine evening. I’d met her briefly a couple of times at Expo. The first being a beer-‘n-tea pairing seminar-thingy. She’d seen me at my most light-weighted. Jo “A Gift of Tea” Johnson was unfortunately indisposed because…jazz. I don’t blame her.
The two teas featured this month were both custom blends by Rachel Carter for her IHeartTeas line. One was dubbed Creamy Pumpkin Spice, the other was Winter Frost. Both flavored black tea blends. While I’m usually not one to do flavored blends (er…anymore…often?), these smelled delightful. I went to brewing as the conversation continued.
A quick sidenote: My phone lasted through the entire Hangout. It only crapped out twice, but one of those was my fault. I had to exit out of the chat to photograph the tea for the blog. Y’know, work stuff.
If called upon to find a favorite between the two blends, I’d still be stumped. I even said as much during the chat. Both invoked the seasons they were tailored for perfectly. I liked ‘em both equally in different ways.
Creamy Pumpkin Spice was exactly as the name suggested without treading into “masala chai” territory. Winter Frost was minty, but not too loaded with peppermint – just cooling enough. Funny thing, since I was quite literally tasting these in tandem, my taste buds got confused. For a moment, I mistook a cinnamon finish in the Creamy Pumpkin Spice with peppermint. In actuality, it was a carryover form the winter blend. How odd.
Oh yeah! I almost forgot…
Rachel sent us a “project” along with the tea samples. We were tasked with creating our own Halloween cards. I didn’t have time over the course of the week to concoct anything fancy. So, I did what I always did – I made it on the fly. Ladies and gentleman, the Sparkly Ghost Manor:
Yeah, I failed Arts and Crafts.
-A discussion about certain authors who use tea as a trope in their fiction novels…but don’t actually drink tea.
-Talented artist boyfriends.
-Quote of the night from Julia: “You can go from sipping to kissing with this [Winter Frost].”
-Future writing projects.
-Asian tea-sourcing fieldtrips.
Things I learned about my female tandem tea tasting compatriots:
-Rachel gets more animated the more tea she consumes.
-Nicole remains adorable, even when stricken with allergies.
-Darlene looks like a tea professional no matter where she sits in her house.
-Julia has perfect hair. Like all the time.
I had to crap out early from the tasting because I was overdue for fondue with the siblings and niece. Upon arriving, my sister informed me that her daughter said:
“I heard Geoff talking to a girl, and I got hopeful.”
Yeah, niece. Playing the tea field. That’s me. Sure.
As I write this, I’m sipping an experiment. I took both the Creamy Pumpkin Spice and Winter Frost…and combined them. The sensation was like a seasonal transition. Not quite complete, but almost there. Like a store changing out their holiday products. Still, I’m drinking it…and it’s doing its darnedest to keep me awake.
Although, I am still wearing my pajamas inside-out. And it’s past noon.
Nicole – Tea for Me Please
Darlene – Tea Lovers Archive
Rachel – IHeartTeas
Julia – Bingley’s Teas
Jo – Scandalous Tea