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    This Gin and Tonic Tea Will Impress Your Drunkest Friend

    Fortnum & Mason, a company that’s been around since 1707, has a new take on tea and a new take on… gin and tonic?!

    Now, before we go any further, it’s worth pointing out that this tea doesn’t have a single drop of alcohol in it. It’s made from green tea along with a blend of things like coriander, fennel, juniper berries, lemon balm, and other ingredients that you’ll commonly find in a nice gin.

    It doesn’t have that sting, though, and it won’t have you burping up bubbles any time soon, but it’s still supposedly a really tasty tea. We haven’t tried it – it’s been sold out ever since it went ‘viral’ and everyone has been trying to get their hands on it. A video on ‘The Hook’ recently amassed nearly 5 million views in about a day, so clearly people are into this, at least as a novelty…

    Is Gin and Tonic Tea More Than Just a Novelty, Though?

    It sounds like it would be good in all honesty, especially for people who enjoy a ginny taste but don’t necessarily want to get a buzz on first thing in the morning.

    For about £6.95, which equals just shy of 10 Freedom Bucks, you’ll get a nice little box with 15 silky tea bags.

    They refer to it as “G&T without the consequences.”

    Not sure how many people out there are looking for a gin and tonic taste without the “consequences”, or “benefits”, depending on who you ask – but apparently it’s enough people to buy out the entire website.

    Here’s the full description from the Fortnum and Mason‘s website:

    “Enjoy a G&T without the consequences. We’ve combined green tea with real juniper berries and handpicked botanicals including coriander, fennel and lemon balm to create our refreshing Gin & Tonic Tea topped offer with fresh lime and cucumber. All that’s missing is the gin itself.

    Every silky tea bag is specially packed in an envelope to be enjoyed anywhere at anytime.”

    Are you interested in getting your hands on this? Too bad, you cant.

    At least, not until it’s back in stock again. F&M has a form on their website where you can enter your email address to get a heads up once it’s back and stock, and from there, it’s presumably just a matter of first come / first served to buy gin and tonic tea.

    Where To Buy Gin and Tonic Tea Ingredients?

    Really, though, it wouldn’t be hard to make this yourself just using the same ingredients and steeping them. You could use empty tea bags if you want to drink it out of bags, or steep it like you normally would any other loose leaf tea.

    Here are the different ingredients you’ll want:

    Then from there, you can mix them with your favorite tea, whether it’s green, black, or whatever. Here are some of our top recommendations for the best earl grey tea, in case  you’d like to use that as a starting point.

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    You’ll Fawn Over This Teacup When It Touches The Saucer

    Do you know what anamorphosis is? It’s a distorted image, at first glance, but when looking at it from a particular angle or using a mirror or lens, it shows up normal.

    It’s easier to show it than to explain it:

    Here's an example of anamorphosis

    There are tons of cool examples of anamorphosis out there (here’s a gallery with some great ones), but this one might be your new favorite.

    Not only is this teacup really great looking, but watch what happens when you shift it to the side a little bit…

    See, deer?

    These are Luycho cups, and this one will run you 60,000원 (won, the currency is South Korea) which is just over $50 USD. Luycho’s motto is “A New world on Mirrors.” They also make some smaller espresso cups and a variety of others, with the same revealing mirror design, for around $30.

    If you like to collect unique and interesting teacups, or just look at them, we’ve put together a gallery of some of the most unique ones we’ve come across in our travels across the internet.

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    Liverpool Is Officially The Tea Capital of the UK

    If you take the name “Liverpool” literally, it sounds like the description of perhaps the most disgusting type of tea you could ever imagine… a pool of steeping liver? No thanks.

    Thankfully, the name of this city has absolutely nothing to do with the way their like to enjoy their tea. And they certainly do enjoy their tea…

    A recent article by Michelle at T Ching highlights Liverpool’s incredible tea culture, via Fawley Online.

    “Researchers took an in-depth look into the hot beverage habits of the nation and discovered the average Brit will consume a staggering 66,685 cups of tea over their lifetime. But it was the good folk of Liverpool who emerged as the biggest tea lovers of all, with the average Liverpudlian consuming 1,460 cups of splosh EVERY year.”

    You read that right. The AVERAGE is 1,460 cups a year per person, or 4 cups per day. For everyone who doesn’t drink any tea in Liverpool, there’s another person who has to drink 8 cups a day to make up the difference. That’s really a staggering number when you think about it.

    4 cups a day is above average even for people who are tea drinkers, and when you factor in all the slack that has to be carried for the citizens of Liverpool who don’t drink much tea, that means the tea lovers over there are going mad, they’re practically drowning in tea.

    We could all learn a thing or two from them.

    How much money do Brits spend on tea?

    “According to the poll by instant boiling water tap makers, Redring – over the course of an adult lifetime, the average Brit will shell out a staggering £35,733 on teas and coffees.

    When it comes to tea – English breakfast is our most popular go-to-brew, with the majority of those polled (38 percent) claiming milk with no sugar is the formula for a perfect brew,” reports Fawley.

    Interested in tea around the world? Check these out:

    Watch People Reacting To Different Types of Tea From Around the World

    5 Unique Types of Tea From Around The World

    Jam in Tea (Russian style tea)

    Amazing Thai Iced Tea Recipe Just Like in Thailand

  • Plum Deluxe Is All About Embracing Life’s Moments

    We’ve been very excited to get to know some of the team members at Plum Deluxe recently. Plum Deluxe is an online tea store but also a lot more. It’s more than just tea, it’s about what tea represents, the relaxation and sitting down to enjoy that moment in time, the relaxation of your own unique tea ritual, and just that mindfulness that comes with the whole process… and that’s definitely something we can get behind.

    Plum Deluxe was founded by Andy Hayes in 2007 as a magazine, and has since grown into a weekly newsletter (that’s definitely worth signing up for by the way, and free, check it out right here), a store with all sorts of unique types of teas and related services like bulk orders, or special orders for weddings and other memorable events, and even a monthly tea club where you’ll get a lovely little package in the mail each month. They’ve got a podcast, a rich library of articles spanning back years and years covering everything that you could imagine when it comes to tea and mindfulness, and more.

    Tea Blends by Plum Deluxe

    We’ve tried out a handful of their teas already and will be adding a new blog post about that very soon, but we also wanted to feature some of their other blends right here. Make sure you take a peek at their Teashop because there’s a really impressive selection and you truly get the feeling that a lot of thought and care has gone into each one.

    Soul Warmer Herbal Tea: “It’s a rooibos tea with a mix of hazelnut, chestnut, and caramel flavors perfect for keeping those taste buds energized.”

    Brunch in Paris Black Tea Blend: “To create this magic we pair a simple blend of black tea and honeybush tea with cacao nib and orange peel / orange extract.”

    No Obligations Decaf Black Tea: “We use a fresh, vibrant decaf Ceylon black tea for the base, and add both hazelnut and almond extracts with some spiced Cinnamon and a pinch of cocoa nibs and a creamy vanilla.”

    That’s just a selection to give you an idea what they’re all about, but they have dozens more in their store, along giftware and tea accessories. A banner on one of their pages reads, “Tea is the best gift for people who don’t need more ‘things'”, and it couldn’t be truer.

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    We Got An Early Taste of a New Premium Matcha You Can’t Buy Yet

    We recently featured a new brand of matcha tea called Material Matcha Uji who are up to some very cool things over in Japan, where they’ve spent years learning nearly-lost techniques for making matcha tea from scratch, techniques that could one day become lost due to processes being taken over by machines (and robots. evil, evil robots.) If you want to support them and secure a taste for yourself, we strongly recommend checking out their Kickstarter, which has SMASHED their funding goals and still has a ton of time left on the block.

    Our friends at MMU sent us a special sneak peek sampler of one of their upcoming teas, and we’re excited to share it today. You can buy it soon through their Kickstarter and website. To the best of my knowledge, they’re currently putting together the finishing touches on packaging (And have said they’ll be sending us another shipment to check out once it has reached it’s final form, so look forward to an update on that, from what we’ve seen so far it looks incredible across the board.)

    Check out this video to learn what they’re all about, and then keep going to check out some photos and initial impressions from their first batch.

    Here are their Kickstarter stats at the time of publishing this post:

    604 backers

    43 days left

    €51,765 pledged of €8,000 goal

    We are very proud and excited for our friends over at Material Matcha Uji, whom we’ve had a chance to get to know a little bit over the past month or so, and we’re sure this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what they have in mind for the future – but don’t get the wrong idea, we’re also sure that whatever comes next is going to involve perfect matcha done the right way. You can bet that we’ll keep you up to date

    Now, we just about ended this post without showing you sneak peek at the matcha itself – but what would have been kind of cruel, right?

    We were going to keep this package sealed and fresh for an upcoming video where we’re going to commit the biggest sin you can possibly fatham using fresh, ultra high grade matcha, but you’ll have to wait for the video to see what kind of atrocities we’re up (We’ll also embed in right here in this article once it’s live), but for now… enjoy a quick look:

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    The Best Yerba Mate Gourd and Bombilla To Start With

    This page is all about choosing the very best yerba mate gourd and bombilla if you’re picking out your very first one, or looking for something a little different than the traditional styles.

    Want to get right to the point? Here’s our top pick.

    Whenever you’re buying something new and unique, especially something like a yerba mate gourd and bombilla set, it can be kind of hard to tell what’s the good quality stuff and what’s just a cheaper version that have been marked up to be bought by people who don’t know any better. Don’t be the person who doesn’t know any better! There are a lot of yerba mate brands to choose from, so let’s dig a little deeper.

    Choosing a Yerba Mate Gourd & Bombilla (Straw)

    Best yerba mate gourd
    image via pinterest

    Whatever you’re buying, you always want to get your money’s worth, right? Don’t worry, we’ve found something perfect, but first let’s talk about gourds for a couple more moments before we tell you about the best one we’ve found.

    Also, there are other concerns that come along with certain types of gourds. You’ll see some that are covered in different types of polishes or paints on the outside to make them shiny and to protect the artwork, you’ll see others wrapped in leather, you’ll see metal gourds, wooden ones, and some that are as unique as the people who use them.

    Some of the downsides of the ones that have different types of varnishes or paints on them, is sometimes those extend beyond the outside, to a point where you’re putting your mouth on it. I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing right off the bat, but over time, after washing it, using it day in and day out, that can start to fade, or even chip away, and you have to wonder if you’re consuming harmful chemicals at some point?

    At the very least, with some of the very cheaply made mate gourds, this is definitely a concern. So, for my idea of the “perfect” mate gourd, I wanted to find one that didn’t have those issues. Granted, it might not be as pretty as some of them, but let’s put safety first.

    Avoiding mold in your mate gourd?

    If you don’t live in a very dry climate, there’s a genuine possibility of mold growing inside your gourd if you’re using a wooden one. If it isn’t able to fully dry out, you’ve got a bad combination in there of…

    • Residue from your previous drinks,
    • A wet climate,
    • And a dark area…

    It’s a bad recipe for mold, and it’s not always easy to catch it when it starts forming. Another downside is that a wooden gourd can also soak up flavors from previous steeps. All in all, it’s not a terrible thing to use a wooden gourd, or some of the other types we’ve mentioned, but at the end of the day, a silicon gourd for yerba mate takes care of all of the issues we’ve mentioned so far, and often costs less than other types, too. It’s the perfect solution, if you ask me.

    The one we’re about to take a look at hits a really good combination of being very affordable, it comes with both the gourd and the metal straw known as a bombilla, and you can get it from Amazon so it’ll show up to your door quickly.

    The Best Yerba Mate Gourd Set For The Money in 2017

    best yerba mate gourd and bombilla
    Click the image above to see this set on Amazon.

    This one right here is made by a company called Mate Mateo, and it’s made from food grade silicon that can handle the hot water, it’s easy to wash, and you don’t have to worry about any wood inside getting damp and moldy becasue there isn’t any. It’s more affordable than most glass ones, and is available in a variety of colors.

    To top it off, it has incredibly positive reviews on Amazon. It’s soft and flexible, you can pop it in the dishwasher when you’re done, and it won’t hold on to any smells or bacteria like some other types of gourds will.

    Across the board, it’s a great option to start with for somebody who has heard about the yerba mate benefits and is looking to give this drink a try. Not only that, but Amazon also sells all of the top brands of the drink itself, so that you can get everything you need in one place, for the best price.

    It’s not going to break if you drop it, but a glass one almost definitely would break if you were to drop it.

    Pros of this mate gourd and bombilla set:

    • Very affordable and comes with a bombilla
    • You can put it in the dishwasher
    • It won’t attract odors or hold on to flavors, so you don’t have to worry about using different sweeteners with it
    • It’s not going to break from normal everyday use, it’s very durable
    • It’s great for at home, or for travelling, and even backpacking since you can squish it to take up less space
    • It comes with everything you need, except the tea itself

    Cons to consider as well:

    • It’s just a plain color, so you won’t have the same artistic designs that you’ll see on some of the wooden options
    • Some may prefer a more natural/organic feel that you’ll get from a gourd made from wood or leather, despite the negative aspects those materials can possess

    The good news is you don’t have to choose just one. Many daily drinkers of this fine beverage will eventually find themselves with numerous gourds in their rotation, and may even simply use the more artistic ones (that can contain harmful materials) just for keeping on display.

    It’s a very personal endeavor either way, and we encourage you to explore since most of them are relatively inexpensive, but if you’re looking for a yerba mate gourd and bombilla set to start with, you really can’t go wrong with the silicon one by Mate Mateo.

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    Best Earl Grey Tea Brand For The Money? [Updated 2017]

    Earl Grey Tea Brands

    Traditioanlly speaking, Earl Grey is made from a black tea blend including oil of bergamot. Its roots in England go back hundreds of years, and is believed to be named after Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, this fellow right here who looks like he’s reaching into his coat for a pistol:

    image via wikipedia

    Hopefully in reality he’s just reaching for a flash of some hot tea. In any case, there are conflicting origin stories of this tea, with one saying that the Earl received the blend as a gift from somebody from China who was grateful to him for saving their son. Jacksons of Piccadilly, a teahouse dating back to 1815, claim themselves as the origin of this blend of tea.

    The Grey family themselves say the blend was created in order to offset the taste of lime in the local water supply.

    Wherever it started, it has become one of the most popular tea blends out there. It’s a very neutral and enjoyable taste, with the bergamot adding a “little something” to the regular tea leaves.

    More recently, you’ll find it made from different types of tea, including oolong or even green tea.

    Finding The Best Earl Grey Tea Brand in 2017:

    Beat earl grey tea brand

    Taste is entirely subjective, but we’ve still put together this list of some of the best Earl Grey blends out there. Before we continue, let’s try to quantify what “best” even means. For the purposes of this list, it’s a combination of things, from how well most people enjoy the tea (by aggregating review scores from across the web), how accessible it is, and in this case, whether it’s worth the money or not for the average tea consumer. You might find a really nice blend that’s VERY expensive, but if most people won’t really notice the difference or appreciate it, it won’t necessarily earn the top spot since we’re taking value into consideration here.

    These are all excellent teas, that are relatively reasonable priced (Some are more affordable than others, but they’re all within reach for somebody who is looking to invest in some new teas for their collection.) If you really want to put your tea storage area to the test, you could try a few of these. Would you enjoy brewing several Earl Grey tea brands at once, and then comparing them?

    1. TOP PICK FOR BEST EARL GREY TEA: Harney & Sons Earl Grey Supreme

    Harney and Sons Tea

    Let’s cut right to the chase and end the suspense, here’s our overall pick. The Supreme blend by Harney & Sons contains four different teas, silver tips, and bergamot. All things considered, if you’re looking for an Earl Grey tea brand you can rely on, this is a solid pick. It lands on the pricier end of the scale when you break down the prize per ounce of tea, so if you’re very budget conscious you might want to try the next one, or something else from this list, but if you don’t mind spending a little bit more – this is a good one to add to your cart.

    2. Taylors of Harrogate Earl Grey Tea

    Taylors of Harrogate Earl Grey Leaf Tea

    Taylor’s of Harrogate is a staple in many homes, it’s a solid tea, very reasonable, very accessible. Now, some would argue it’s not the 2nd best Earl Grey Tea in the entire world, and we’d likely have to agree, but once again, this list is taking more into account than just that. With the option to go for loose leaf or bagged, there’s something for everyone.

    Here’s some information from the manufacturer themselves: “Said to be from a secret recipe given to Earl Grey by a Chinese Mandarin in 1830, Earl Grey tea has a distinct flavor and aroma. A blend of fine black China teas and the natural oil of bergamot, this is a full-bodied, richly-flavored treat any time of the day.”

    3. Mighty Leaf Organic Earl Grey Tea Pouches

    Mighty Leaf tea brand

    This is a nice tea, and it brings you the best of both worlds when it comes to loose leaf tea vs bagged. These little pouches contain loose leaf leaf, rather than tea bags where the tea has often been ground a lot finer and is sometimes of lower quality. This Earl Grey brand is nice because they bring you the convenience of bagged tea, with the quality of loose. It’s very well reviewed, very reasonable priced, very nice tea that has earned a spot on this list.

    4. Tippy Organic Earl Grey by Golden Moon Tea

    Golden Moon Tippy Earl Grey Tea Brand

    By the sounds of it, putting together this blend was a real labor of love.  They visited dozens of tea houses in London to make sure they were getting things just right, and have sourced their bergamot from Southern Italy, using the oils from the peel for a fresh taste rather than any alternative flavorings. The goal was to make an Earl Grey that could stand up to scrutiny and make Brits proud, and it’s also quite reasonable priced at pennies per serving. We’ll call that mission: accomplished.

    5. WILDCARD: Have your say!

    image: thednetworks.com

    We’re going to leave this last option open as a bit of a ‘wild card’ so that our readers can submit their own suggestions of their favorite Earl Greys. Do you have a favorite Earl Grey Tea brand? Here’s your chance to give them a shout out. If you have your own brand that you sell, let us know what sets it apart and makes it one of the best options for the money. Also, if there’s any interest, we can also do a run down of more exclusive, higher-end, ’boutique’ Earl Greys for those who aren’t really worried about the price.

    In any case, you can get in touch with us on Twitter to let us know your choice for the best Earl Grey, and we’ll take every answer into consideration while we finalize this list.

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    Beautiful Thai Iced Tea Recipes You Need To Taste

    From a simple thai iced tea recipe, to ice cream made with thai tea, and some other interesting twists… we’ve curated this list to bring you some of the best recipes for (and using) thai-style tea. This is a very sweet type of tea, and often includes a heavy amount of cream as well, so make sure you’ve saved room for dessert before proceeding…

    1. Thai Pearl Milk Tea Recipe

    image: rachelcooksthai.com

    If tigers had spots, they would look a like this drink. You’ll need special thick straws for this one, for the tasty tapioca balls. This recipe comes from Rachel at Rachel Cooks Thai, a blog where one lady explores the cuisine of her husband’s homeland. Here’s the full recipe.

    2. Thai Tea Ice Cream

    image: amandeleine.com

    Thai iced tea made into ice cream seems like a no brainer, but when I found this recipe I was like, “That’s genius.” Amanda from Amandeleine.com adapted this version of the recipe from Serious Eats, and it’s definitely a winning combination. Check out the full recipe here.

    3. Thai-Style Iced Coffee

    image via paleohacks

    This one’s actually coffee, not tea, just to add a little more variety into the mix.  It is the spice of life, after all, isn’t it? This recipe comes from our friends at Paleo Hacks (visit this link to see the full recipe) and is dairy-free and paleo-friendly. You can even swap out the regular iced cubes for coconut milk ice cubes which will give your drink a creamier texture the longer you drink it, as the ice cubes melt. Check out the full recipe here.

    4. Boba Thai Iced Tea Popsicles

    image: pineappleandcoconut.com

    This one’s a real treat. Taking that iced tea to the next level by fully freezing it, this delicious bobo thai iced tea popsicle recipe by Shanna at Pineapple and Coconut takes two favorites and combines them into one perfect treat. Click here to see the full recipe, and all of  the incredible photos as well.

    Sweet-tooth still not satisfied? Here are some tea desserts that’ll have you in a sugar coma in no time.

  • Kratom Tea Effects & How To Make This Ancient Elixir

    Kratom tea is perhaps the most widely used way to experience this unique plant’s effects, and it is certainly one of the most simple ways to ingest it. There are numberous reasons that people will take kratom, and some of the kratom tea benefits are more widely documented than others. I only heard about this stuff in recent months, and decided to do some more research, and then figured I may as well post what I found out along the way, in case someone else was curious down the road.

    This page is a resource that I’ve put together in order to compile a lot of the different information about kratom that’s out there, from research studies, articles in popular magazines, opinion pieces, and even some warnings and things you need to be careful about before you buy Kratom tea online at all. I’ve done my best to include good sources for all of the information here, but this page isn’t meant to be an endorsement or to tell you what to do one way or the other. Having said that, make sure you’re following all of your local laws, since this stuff is banned in a few countries, including Thailand, Lithuania, Romania, Vietnam, and several others. There’s also a small handful of States where Kratom isn’t allowed (Indiana, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Vermont, Arkansas and Alabama, according to the American Kratom Associated, have banned it.)

    There are some incredibly powerful testimonials out there, and then there are those who are more critical, the goal here is just to pass along the information so that you can make up your own mind, since you’re obviously curious about it, just like I was, so here’s what I’ve found out in my research…

    What is Kratom Tea?

    What is Kratom Tea?

    Here’s a definition of Kratom which was originally posted on the website of the American Kratom Association:

    “Kratom is a natural botanical native to tropical Southeast Asia that is part of the coffee family. It’s also known by its scientific name, Mitragyna speciosa. The people of Southeast Asia have used Kratom leaves as an herbal supplement and traditional remedy for hundreds of years. When taken in appropriate amounts, Kratom can provide increased energy, minor pain relief and many find relief from a variety of other mental and physical ailments. Today, people in the U.S. are consuming Kratom, as they do other herbal supplements and traditional remedies.” (source)

    They also mention some things that it is NOT, in order to clear up some misconceptions: They say it’s not a drug, it’s not habit-forming, it’s not an opiate, it’s not a synthetic substance. Rather it’s a natural, herbal supplement that falls into the same ballpark as coffee or tea.

    Kratom Tea Effects

    Kratom Tea Effects

    I mentioned earlier that people use it for a variety of different things, here’s a rundown of some of the more common effects that people seek out from this drink:

    • As a sedative in folk medicine at low doses,
    • To help with anxiety, or stress relief (source)
    • To boost energy levels, focus, and productivity,
    • Other forms of pain management,
    • Lowering blood pressure,
    • Boosting metabolism,
    • To help with opiate addiction and withdrawal symptoms (source)

    These are the most common reasons that people drink kratom, and the most commonly-claimed health benefits. It’s important to understand that there are different degrees when it comes to these types of things. For instance, tea helps many people with energy and focus because it has caffeine and l-theanine, but some of the other health benefits of tea can be more dubious like people claiming that green tea will cure your cancer and so on. Kratom is no exception, there are certain things that it helps with because you feel it right away, and there are other health claims that should be taken with more of a grain of salt. In any case, if you’re ill, this is no replacement for medical attention, a proper diet, and so on.

    How to Make Kratom Tea Recipe:

    How to make Kratom Tea

    It’s really easy to make. If you’ve made other types of tea, you more or less know what you’ve got to do here, it’s really not rocket science. You should take caution to start on the lower end of the amount you use the first few times that you make Kratom tea, because not everybody reacts the same, and it could end up hitting you harder than you expect if you over do it.

    Depending on whether your tea is powdered or in leaves, you’ll want to either let it steep in simmering water for 30 minutes for leaves, and about 10 minutes if it’s powder.

    Where to find Kratom Tea for sale

    If you’ve done your research, understand what to expect, and are curious to give this tea a try, you can buy kratom tea from a number of places. It’s the type of thing where you want to ensure you’re getting it from a reputable source if you decide to try it, since it’s not approved to be sold with the intention of it being ingested in certain countries. So, stick to popular and reputable brands. Also, make sure it’s allowed where you live, you don’t want to get in trouble.

    There are two popular products associated with this tea, it comes in powder form and also in bags. You’ll need to prepare each one slightly differently, but they’re essentially the same thing at the end of the day, so it’s a matter of preference. The powder is quicker to prepare, and you’re actually ingesting the whole thing, so it should be somewhat more potent, kind of like how matcha tea powder compares to green tea leaves.

    Kratom powder tea:

    In powder form, you need less per volume to achieve the same effects of Kratom, especially since you’re ingesting the entirety of what you put in your cup, as opposed to steeping the leaves and then removing them.

    Kratom tea bags:

    This is probabally the simplest way to use Kratom, and one of the most popular as well. Generally speaking, if you steep it for less time, it won’t be quite as potent. It’s always a good idea to start with less, to see how your body reacts, and then to go from there.

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    What’s The Deal With Tazo Tea, Teavana, and Starbucks?

    image credit: starbucks.ca

    For most people, this is probabally old news, but I hadn’t noticed this until recently. Starbucks has made some big moves into the world of tea over the years, including Tazo Tea along with Teavana. Starbucks went with Teavana for their stores over Tazo, with the Tazo Tea brand still being available in grocery stores and elsewhere, but as you may already know – things aren’t all peachy keen for Teavana anymore.

    Sometimes it’s nice to have a traditional tea ceremony, to really get into the moment, to embrace and explore the unique flavors that each leaf brings to the table… but sometimes, you just want something quick and easy. We’re not going to pretend that Teavana or Tazo Teas are the absolute best brand of tea on earth. At such a huge scale, it’s not always easy to keep the quality at its peak, especially when you start dealing with big corporations, shareholders, and so on. In any case, they definitely have some interesting flavors, and an even more interesting back story. Also, both brands have certainly helped to introduce more people to tea, and to make it more accessible.

    Much of the best quality tea out there comes from smaller to medium sizes companies, in our experience, but it’s worth noting that ‘best’ is subjective. For some, ‘best’ means you can run into the grocery store and pick up a tin of Twinings for a few bucks and be on your way. For others, it means a masterfully aged pu’er brewed at exactly the right temperature using water from an enchanted waterfall that has had a unicorn swimming in it at some point in the previous 3 days.

    Whichever camp you fall into, there’s a time and a place for everything. They say the best camera is the one you have with you when the opportunity for a photo arises, and tea is similar. The best tea is the one you’re going to drink and enjoy the most. If it’s a very fancy tea that catches your taste buds and suits you best, great. If it’s something off the shelf at the grocery store or Starbucks, that’s great too.

    Backstory of Starbucks’ Relationship with Tazo (and Teavana)

    Tazo Tea was founded in 1994 in Portland Oregon, and in 1999 the company was sold to Starbucks in 1999 for a whopping 8.1 million dollars.

    There was a Tazo branded store which opened as a trial in 2012, however it was converted shortly after to a Teavana store. Recently, it was announced that Starbucks was going to be shutting down their Teavana retail locations.

    Why did Teavana fail?

    image via sierralaneconstruction.com

    The Teavana store experience can vary from city to city, however one of the common issues that people have is the high-pressure sales atmosphere, due to the fact that employees are allegedly pushed very hard to meet quotas, and could even be punished if their average bill of sale isn’t high enough. If someone comes in and just spends a couple of bucks on a little bit of tea, it can reflect poorly on the employees for not up-selling the teas enough. Some see the up-sale mentality as being a bit predatory to people who don’t know a lot about loose leaf tea or about some of the other options out there.

    At the end of the day, tea is ‘supposed’ to be a relaxing, calming endeavor, and you don’t want to feel like you’re at a furniture store or a car lot when you’re looking for tea. It’s not the fault of the employees at Teavana, they’re just doing their jobs, and many of them have resisted as much as possible since it’s just uncomfortable. It’s corporate pressure that created an uncomfortable shopping experience for customers at Teavana and an awkward place  for people to work, and ultimately lead to the downfall, or at least, that’s how it seems. Frankly, we’re not familiar with the inner workings of Teavana’s business, we just know what it’s like to visit the place as a customer, and are going off of feedback we’ve heard from others.

    Having said that, your local Teavana could be totally different than described, and we’re definitely not trying to generalize too much. If you’ve had a great experience at a Teavana store, please feel free to write in and let us know, and the same goes to anyone who has felt uncomfortable or awkward there as well.

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    Thoughts on Tea as a Replacement for Coffee?

    Can tea replace coffee?

    If you follow Tea Perspective regularly, you’ll know that we mostly cover all things tea related, but we also veer into the world of coffee fairly often as well. This is kind of a rambling post and it’s not very meaty, just some quick thoughts (heads up.)

    While there are people who will only drink tea and never touch coffee, or the other way around,  there’s also a lot of cross-over. Some people are introduced to tea as an alternative to coffee, maybe they’re looking for something that won’t give them that coffee-crash midday or that won’t give them coffee stains on their teeth (although tea can also mark your teeth), or just for some different flavors to explore.

    I don’t like to think of it as coffee vs tea, since they are both excellent drinks (and don’t forget about the other cousin, yerba mate), but there are some valid reasons to drink tea instead of coffee if you’re trying to quit coffee.

    Caffeine in coffee and tea is generally stronger in coffee, about twice as strong, give or take. For people who want to drink a great quantity of their beverage without overdoing it on caffeine, that’s a point for tea. For people who are looking for a jolt first thing in the morning, tea is going to be more subtle so that’s a point for coffee.

    As far as acidity goes, coffee and tea are similar, depending on the type of tea and how it was processed. Here’s more information on that.

    Health benefits of ‘Coffee vs Tea’

    Coffee vs Tea
    image via fromrussia

    So here’s where things get interesting and controversial.

    There are studies about the health benefits of both drinks, but there are also all sorts of wild claims and people twisting and turning those studies to fit their own agendas. You have to be really careful, read beyond the headlines, and realize that a lot of people are actively trying to mislead you, whether it’s a certain Dr. On television, or elsewhere.

    One year coffee is in, the next year it’s out, one year green tea is literally curing every single disease known to man, and so on and so forth… so take health claims about drinks with a grain of salt, and as much as you can, if you’re going to be drinking or not drinking either one based on new studies, actually read the study. When these studies go “viral” and you start seeing them on entertainment blogs, on the evening news, and so on.. it’s a safe bet that a fair chunk of the people covering them haven’t read them, or maybe aren’t even really qualified to read a study to determine a conclusion.

    We always say that the best reason to drink tea is because you enjoy it, not because you’re looking for a cure for something (other than stress, and the like.) There are studied benefits of tea, and coffee, and there are also other studies pointing out dangers as well. At the end of the day, if you’re smoking a pack a day and eating most cheeseburgers, don’t think that “cancer-fighting green tea” is going to make it all okay. It’s about balance, and moderation, with anything… even tea and coffee.

    Versatility

    With coffee and tea, you can do so much with both. You can make lattes with tea, not just espresso. You can cook, especially desserts, with both. If bulletproof coffee is your think, you can make bulletproof tea the same way you’d mix your coconut oil in coffee – just use tea instead.

    At the end of the day, if you’re looking to cut back on your coffee for whatever reason, tea is a great alternative with an increidble amount of flavors and traits to try and enjoy.

    As far as different ways to make tea and coffee, both have some really unique and “easier” methods, along with more complex ways. A sun tea jar is a great way to make iced tea outside, and coffee fans can make cold brew.

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    This Takeya Cold Brew Maker Makes Life a Little Easier

    Takeya Cold Brew Maker

    Cold brew coffee has been getting quite a buzz around it lately, and not just because it packs a strong kick of caffeine compared to regular coffee, but also because it’s a super easy way to make coffee, it’s ready to go first thing in the morning before you’ve even opened your eyes since you can brew a large batch at once and use it all week, and it’s also going to save you money.

    If you’re someone who drinks a lot of cold brews and iced coffees on the go, those few bucks at a time are really going to add up. Making cold brew at home is easy, it just requires a little bit of planning ahead. Not only that, but thanks to this cold brew maker by the brand Takeya, the entire process is even easier than it used to be.

    Making Cold Brew Coffee The Hard Way?

    Make cold brew coffee

    Even the ‘hard way’ to make cold brew coffee is relatively easy, it’s just a matter of mixing coffee grounds and water in a pitcher, waiting about a day, and then filtering the grounds from the water. What you’re left with is a strong coffee concentrate, that you can water-down to taste, or even just drink it as is for a very potent kick. You can use it to make lattes (if you’re into mixing green tea and coffee, you can even use it to make a coffee/matcha tea latte.)

    The part that’s kind of a pain is just filtering through the grounds. You can use a normal kitchen strainer with paper towel or cheese cloth to filter through, depending on how fine the mesh is in your strainer, or you can use coffee filter in some kind of a pour over contraption. Either way, it takes extra stuff, there’s more things to clean, and there’s an easier way that’ll pay for itself right quick, and that’s the Takeya Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker. 

    Now, they call it an iced coffee maker, but it’s worth pointing out that there’s a distinction between iced coffee and cold brew. Cold brew is what we’ve been talking about so far, where you add the coffee grounds to water that has not been boiled, and you let it sit.It can keep for days or even a week in your fridge, and won’t go stale quickly like normally brewed coffee since you’re using time isntead of heat to extract the goodness from the beans. With iced coffee, on the other hand, you’re simply brewing coffee as you normally would and then adding ice to it. It’s quite a bit different from cold brew, and I’m not really sure how this device would help with the process of making ice coffee… but it certainly helps a great deal when it comes to cold brew, that’s for sure.

    The Best Cold Brew Maker

    Cold brew maker

    This is probabally the best option out there for people who want to brew their own cold coffee at home. It’s not very expensive, it’s well-made, and it just takes away that little extra resistance in the process, making things a lot easier. Not only is it easier than the “traditional” way of making cold brewed coffee, it’s also much easier than making regular coffee each morning, since you just dump in some beans and water, pop it in the fridge, then pour some out each morning as you go.

    With this thing, making coffee for the whole week is easier than making coffee for one morning with the traditional methods.

    Once your ground coffee beans have sat in the water in this device for long enough, you can simply remove the filter in the middle, dump it out, give it a quick rinse, and you’re all done. It’s less work than making coffee one time with a coffee maker.

    After that, all you’ve got to do is add however much water you want, some ice cubes if you’d like, and whatever sort of creamer or sweeteners you may enjoy.

    Pros

    • As we mentioned already, it just takes away a couple of extra steps from making coffee any other way, and those extra few minutes come in really handy in the morning.
    • Your cold brewed coffee can easily be adjusted for strength by dilluting it with different amounts of water.
    • It’s super easy to clean, and there are no disposable filters to throw in the garbage.
    • Your coffee beans aren’t ‘cooked’ by boiling water, so they’ll stay tasting fresh longer.
    • It’s a totally different taste experience.
    • This unit is BPA free and dishwasher safe.

    Cons

    • It’s a pretty straightforward item, it does what it’s supposed to do. The only real apparent downside is that it only holds about 4 servings at a time, so you may find yourself having to brew a couple of batches each week. Still, once again, it’s easier than any other way to make coffee, and since you can make it the night before, it’s still one less task off your plate the next morning.
    • Cold coffee is great, but sometimes  you just want a warm cup. You can definitely heat up your cold brew, either on the stove, in the microwave, or simply by adding hot water to dilute it instead of cold water. None the less, if hot coffee is your plan, then this device isn’t ideal – but is that really a con? It seems unfair to knock a COLD brew coffee maker for not being perfect for making hot coffee, doesn’t it?

    Final thoughts

    In any case, if you’re looking for a cold brew maker, hopefully this Takeya review has helped to shine some light on the topic. If you have any questions that we didn’t address in this article, please do get in touch so that we can include the missing information – but really – there’s not a lot to this thing, it’s simply, and it just works like it’s supposed to. If you want to save the money, you can make this drink just as good using cheese cloth to filter the grounds through, it’s just more work and more clean up.

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