MIA for 2 Months

 - by iheartteas

Don’t worry I haven’t stopped drinking tea the rumors are false. Honestly, I couldn’t imagine a world where I wasn’t drinking tea that would be the stuff of nightmares. Instead, I have been making some major changes in my life and dealing with some major unexpected things as well.

Mid-March we were faced with a grave situation regarding my eldest child. She was diagnosed with Renal Failure. It was a huge surprise. There was talk of biopsy, dialysis, and possible transplant. It was a nightmare and still is in a sense. She is doing much better now. She the strongest sever year old I have ever known. We still need get her checked annually for the rest of her life but for now we feel pretty confident that we averted catastrophe. In the meantime we are still dealing with other medical issues with my little girl but we are happy the kidney issue seems to be at bay. I won’t go into it in detail but lets just say this mom freaks out at the possibility of anything that may be wrong with her health these days. It is a stressful job being a parent but still very much worth it.

BEFORE:

Alex At The Hospital

AFTER:

Alex After

Good news, my little near seven-month-old baby boy is doing well. He is huge! He is tall, heavy, and has the cutest big head. Though he is proportionate and insanely sweet and adorable he is breaking his Mama’s back.   He has two of his bottom teeth coming in. Funny so does my daughter, though hers are the permanent teeth of course.

Ethan

As for family news we bit the bullet and bought a new car. I was so happy not having a car payment for so long but it was worth doing in this case. We got ourselves a 2014 Chevy Volt. That’s right we are now an electric family and LOVE it! Saving gas money and helping the Earth never felt so good.

Volt Family Pic

2014 Chevy Volt

With all of that said, personally I have been having a heck of a time managing my diabetes. After having my son, my body took turn for the worse. I have been fighting the uphill battle for almost two decades. Sometimes doing great and other times worse.   Right now it’s the later.

With so much happening these past two months there have been days I haven’t been able to enjoy a single cup of hot tea. Yes, I still have my Ito En Oi Ocha Dark in hand; I haven’t completely lost my mind.   Still, think about the obscene amount of tea I have in my possession and not drinking it. I shutter every time I think about it.   Though, I will say on the days I do have the opportunity to sit down and enjoy a proper cup I always ask myself why I don’t make more time to do it everyday. It is still by far the most relaxing and mind calming elixir I have ever had.

The point of all this is that I am sorry I have been absent. I hope you can forgive me and to say don’t worry I’ll be back in full force as soon as I can. I won’t be able to make World Tea Expo this year and hope by next year things will be better so I can be there.

That and I have some rather BIG News! I will share it with you in my next blog post. It is far too big for this one.

From Paris with JE T’AIME (Love)

 - by iheartteas

Theoder Tea Tasting

THEODER – Paris

Thank you so much Xavier @Teaconomics for sending two wonderful samples of tea straight from France for our Tandem Tea Tasting Google+ Hangout.  Currently, I am enjoying the wonderfully calming music on THEODER’s site as I write this, making this that much more pleasant.  Before I get started with my review I also wanted to thank Jackie @Jackie of Tea Trade for distributing these teas to all of us.   You two are the BEST!!!

The French Google+ Tandem Tasting Event was a special one that we were all so excited to attend.  It took weeks of planning and scheduling due time zones and availbility but we got it done.  The only person that couldn’t make it was our regular and usually only male participant Geoff also known as @lazyliteratus.  We missed you, but understand the importance of work, for if it weren’t for that where would we all get our tea money.

Today we tasted two teas.  My impressions are listed below…

*Description of tea obtained directly from THEODER’s Website

THE DU LOUP – Pretentious

History says that Rome was founded by the sons of a she-wolf.  Theodor’s first creation and enduring reputation has its own story … it’s own secrets. This tea’s success is not only due to the seductive notes of chocolate but the simplicity of the obvious. It goes without saying!

Ideal brewing time: 4 to 5′

Water temperature: 85°C (185°F) 

Review: It has a wonderful sweet and creamy flavor.  I didn’t pick up the chocolaty notes but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t there.  It is possible some of the flavors were lost in transit.  Nevertheless, it is was delicious blend.  The flavors are best defined as warm, and cozy.  The perfect “cozy up to warm cup while reading a book” tea.  You know what I am talking about.  The sort of tea that makes you go…”Ah” and release all the tension of the word.

JE T’AIME – Gallantry

Sparkling eyes, trembling hands, the heart beating faster, these signs are unmistakable. Even admitting it is rather personal. To the ones we love, this word is filled with gourmandise and passion. It should be, according to the rules of the perfect Gentleman, whispered and why not accompanied by an audacious cup of tea with macaroon flavours , then, ‘I love you, je t’aime’…

Ideal brewing time: 3 to 5′

Water temperature: 85°C (185°F)

Review: A fun fresh tea.  I didn’t try this during our Google+ Hangout but rather right after.  I enjoyed the bright flavors.  It wasn’t a warm tea but more of a playful tea.  It reminded me of a beautiful, sunny summer day.  Enjoying tea on the veranda while watching the kids play in the garden.

I realize both of my reviews weren’t technical and the reason why is both of these teas triggered emotional response and vivid imagery.  Note, I am a very visual person with an amateur photographic memory of certain things.  I thought it was more important to capture the moment then provide a technical review in this case.

Overall, these were both well blended and delicious.  I am happy to have tried them and grateful to both Xavier and Jackie for the opportunity.

 For Reviews From The Other Tandem Tea Tasters See Below…

Xavier of Teaconomics

Jo Johnson – Scandalous Tea

Jackie of Tea Trade

Julia of Bingley Teas

Darlene of Tea Lovers Archives

Nicole of Tea For Me Please

A Blog With No Pictures

 - by iheartteas

A Blog With No Pictures

Why Passion Isn’t Enough

You pour your heart and soul into what you love and hope others love what you do even a fraction as much you.  Of course you have those select few that provide support and guidance.  The ones that love you and by extension what you do.   What I am talking about is those that don’t know you or are just starting to get to know you.  We all want our efforts to be noticed, remembered, and leaving them wanting more.

Unfortunately, passion is not enough.  As it turns out we all have it.  Some act on it, others let it burn within them.  Wanting someone to notice what your most passionate about is like trying to grab the eyes and ears of someone with little to no attention span.  There needs to be a better way to grab the attention of someone outside of screaming at him or her, plus it doesn’t work anyway.  It needs to be fun.  If I can’t do that I’d better just throw in the towel.

Simply put, I love tea, creating things with my hands like bath and beauty products, among other things.  Just because I love these things doesn’t mean everyone else will.  I used to think that if everyone knew how much I liked doing what I do that they would fall in love with it too.  It just doesn’t work that way.  I am now officially on a mission to make things more fun.

It is time to take a more creative role.  Let’s face it no matter hold old we get and home much our responsibilities change we all love to have fun.  We all love a treat from time to time.  We all want time to take care of ourselves and not feel guilty about it.  As adults we are always doing for others such as our kids, husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, moms, dads, sisters, brothers, and friends.  It never stops!  Well, it stops here and NOW!  It is time we all enjoyed ourselves a little more and add ourselves to the list. What’s one more right?

Although, my passion isn’t enough and truthfully only about a tenth of you reading this probably even got this far.  It isn’t your fault.  You probably got distracted or decided it was too long, got bored, probably because there are no pictures, or any other number of reasons.  Nevertheless, don’t worry I am not mad at you.  I am guilty of the same.  Like many of you out there I have way too much going on.

To finish, here is my plan.  I am going to have more fun.  If I am having fun, you will want to join me.  Everyone hates being the last one picked in gym just like everyone hates missing out on a chance to have fun.  I will start to make more fun tea blends for sale.  I will include fun recipes for you to try with them.  I will share DIY recipes to make your own bath and beauty products at home, and show you fun way to use what I have in my inventory.  My goal is if I am doing fun things, so will you, and hopefully that will inspire you to support me by making a purchase from time to time on my site, iHeartTeas.com.  When you make that purchase and share a kind word or two I will see my passion spreading and the cycle will continue.  Then I will be able to afford adding to my inventory, share more ideas, recipes, and other fun inspired projects.

Lets spread our passions more creatively.

It’s time we ALL had more FUN!

Tea Drinking “Wonka” Style

 - by iheartteas

Tea Drinking “Wonka” Style

Alex Drinking Tea Brick

The whole experience was like being thrown down the rabbit hole not knowing what would happen.  Among the great taste, there was giggling, random conversation, the word chocolate thrown around like confetti at a party.  Silliness ensued but I am certain this would have happened anyway.  However, as memory recalls there was more than the usual amounts of giddiness.  Anytime that happens, I am assured the tea will be memorable.  For what are those moments with tea and good friends than encapsulated moments of joy and laughter.  Like memories extracted by Gandolf himself and his magic wand, preserved for later recall.   Each of these precious tea moments live within my mind and in my blog.  Though, I must admit my mind may be romanticizing it a bit more than my blog will describe.  In other words I will always look back at this hangout with fondness and it was all thanks to Geoff aka @LazyLiteratus

Tea: Compressed Black Tea in Brick Form wrapped in gold foil – NOT Puerh

Procured From: The Jasmine Pearl Tea Merchants

Can Also Be Found At: Yunnan Sourcing 

Feng Qing Black Tea Mini Bricks

Tea BrickTea BrickTea Brick

Steep: My Preference is a long steep at 208ºF about 3 mins and move up with each steep.

The best part about the tea is that it truly does have a chocolaty feel to it.  As any self-respecting woman I have a soft spot for chocolate but even softer spot when there is a tea that tastes like chocolate, which to me, means in no guilt!

WooHoo!!! Can it get any better than that?  I most definitely have to put this tea on the “buy” list.

 WooHoo Homer Pic Tea

Bottom-line –> RUN, don’t stop and pick yourself up some of this “Willy Wonka” Style tea.  When this arrived I knew I found the “Golden Ticket.”

To Read About the Adventures of the Other Tandem Tea Tasters

Click Below

Jo Johnson aka @jopj

Darlene-Myer Perry

Nicole Martin aka @teaformeplease

Geoffrey Norman aka @lazyliteratus

A French Tandem Tea Tasting

 - by iheartteas

I am keeping this short and sweet as this wasn’t my cup of tea.  Not because the tea itself was flawed in anyway at all but rather it isn’t for my palette.   The tea I am referring to is a Turkish inspired green tea blend called Thé Du Hammam which was graciously provided by the lovely Jo Johnson @jopj which she purchased from Palais des Thés.  It is my understanding it is very popular and I can imagine why.  If there ever was a tea you would imagine was of French character this is it.  It is floral, slightly sweet, and perfume-like.  While sipping and conversing it dawned on me that this tea would make a wonderful addition to a chocolate truffle recipe.

THÉ DU HAMMAM green tea

the-du-hammam tea pic

The tea brought on a lot of wonderful conversation as always.  I even had the chance to introduce my newly born baby boy Ethan Asom Carter.  He played well with group but I think that is only true because I promised him tea later.  Not only did we talk about tea but life as well.  The two of which are closely intertwined for me.   I am always grateful to have so many wonderful friends both near and far, especially to have tea with.

Ethan Asom Carter

Ethan

For more detailed blog posts check out what the other Tandem Tea Tasters have written.

Jo Johnson aka Scandalous Tea 

Geoffrey Norman aka Lazy Literatus of Steep Stories

Nicole Martin of Tea For Me Please

Darlene Meyers-Perry of The Tea Enthusiast’s Scrapbook

Tag…I Guess I’m It!!! – Confessions of a Tea Blogger

 - by iheartteas

Tag…I Guess I’m It!!! – Confessions of a Tea Blogger

 What a wonderful idea this is.  So much so I dropped everything I was doing including my now one-month-old son; in his crib of course, and told him that for the next few hours he had better fend for himself.  Of course what I really meant was, that he is taking a nap and this is the only time I have while being held hostage by his will and schedule. Believe me when I say this was put together at a feverish pace.

Ethan

First, thank you Lu Ann; of The Cup of Life, for “tagging” me.  After which I so desperately just wanted to say… “Ha-Ha you can’t catch me.” I just couldn’t help myself.

1) First, let’s start with how you were introduced & fell in love with the wonderful beverage of tea.

Defiance, not to put to blunt a point on it.  For all of my life all members of my family drank tea.  However, for those who know me I come from an Indian family and as I am sure you can assume my family is big into Chai.  I on the other hand was not a big fan of all the sugar and milk.  The spices were wonderful but still the way it was prepared wasn’t my favorite.  So I decided to venture out of the chai world and explore different teas in an out right defiance of what my family was drinking.  It was there my love and affinity for tea was born.  Funny story, I don’t mind the version my family makes now though I still don’t drink it.  I do enjoy other chai’s now and I make my own version with milk and sugar but am very cautious of how much I use.

2) What was the very first tea blend that you ever tried?

Honestly, I haven’t got a clue but my guess is Lipton as it is a vivid memory in my mind as a child.  My family often used Lipton tea bags as a quick an easy base to make their everyday chai.  However, this is no longer the case and hasn’t been for a long time.  They now strictly use a loose leaf tea blend.

3) When did you start your tea blog & what was your hope for creating it?

I am not 100% certain but I believe I started my blog roughly 4 years ago and I think I am approaching 5 years early to mid-next year.  I can’t believe it has been that long.  I started my blog as a way to keep track of what I was drinking.  Then it became more.  It was a great venue to be able to express not only what tea I was drinking but where I was when I was drinking it, how it made me feel, and what I was doing.  Not a day goes by that I don’t have a tea in hand, which in turn means so many wonderful memories to remember each of which I can review in my catalog of blog posts.  My blog continues to evolve organically and is an excellent representation of my thoughts and me.  I can’t image a better way to express myself and  love the feedback from those who read them.

4) List one thing most rewarding about your blog & one thing most discouraging.

The most rewarding thing about my blog is the number of people I have met and the friendships I have been able to foster.  I can’t believe the doors it has opened.  I never thought my ramblings were so interesting to so many.  As for discouraging, if I really had to think of one thing I would say staying on a schedule and remaining engaging to my readers consistently.

5) What type of tea are you most likely to be caught sipping on?

Most likely a black tea as I am no fuss kind of girl when I need tea and don’t want to spend a lot of time making it and worrying about steep parameters, measurements, and such.  Black tea can be so forgiving which I find a desirable trait especially these days.  Specifically, I have been drinking a lot of my blend, Winter Frost from iHeartTeas.  It absolutely puts me in the holiday spirit, which just happens to be my favorite time of year.  As for cold tea I will ALWAYS have a bottle of Ito En’s Oi Ocha Dark within arms reach no matter where I am.  I love it and it is my green tea fix when I don’t take the time to make it at home.

6) Favorite tea latte to indulge in?

Tough question, I have been experimenting a lot of different recipes using various different teas for the past couple of years now and each offers a type of satisfaction for whatever mood I may have been in at the time.  However, at this moment I am going to say a Matcha Latte and only because I didn’t feel comfortable having Matcha while I was pregnant and now that I am not I have started to slowly introducing it back into my diet. Yummy!

Matcha Tea

7) Favorite treat to pair with your tea?

I don’t often pair anything with my tea.  However, when I do I reach for some macrons, scones with clotted cream, and cookies.  Not all at once of course.  Also, turns out I like a good, bold, brisk, black tea with pizza too.

Pizza and Tea Pic

8) If there was one place in the World that you could explore the tea culture at, where would it be & why?

I would love to visit Japan.  I am fascinated with the culture and flavors of the country.

9) Any teatime rituals you have that you’d like to share?

I don’t have any rituals per say unless, it is a ritual to drink tea all the time with everything.  That and my husband as of late has been preparing tea for us every night before bed.

10) Time of day you enjoy drinking tea the most: Morning, Noon, Night or Anytime?

Anytime – ALL THE TIME!!!

Tea

11) What’s one thing you wish for tea in the future?

I wish people to have the opportunity to try some really good teas for their flavor and not get so caught up in any supposed health benefits or weight loss claims.

– Who do you tag?

I TAG:

Jackie of Tea Trade and Cups of Tea with Jackie

Darlene of The Tea Lovers Archives

Xavier of Teaconomics

Ricardo of My Japanese Green Tea

*Side Note: When you create your own tag post, please start by letting your readers know who you were initially tagged by. Feel free to use the photo above as well.
**If you end up participating in this TAG, tweet me your post so I can get to know you more too. You can tweet either accounts: @iHeartTeas OR @rachelkcarter

Keeping up with iHeartTeas

 - by iheartteas

Keeping Up With iHeartTeas

As most of you already know I have a lot going on right now.  You would think being pregnant was enough for someone’s to-do list but as it turns out I just can’t stop myself from doing more.  I will highlight a few things that have been going on.  A brief explanation of what I have been up to just 6 days 3 days away from delivering my baby boy Ethan Asom Carter.

Monthly Tandem Tea Tasting Google+ Hangout

Our last gathering consisted of a mini-holiday card project and a couple of seasonal tea favorites from iHeartTeas.  We sampled the following…

  1. Creamy Pumpkin Spice Tea – Not a chai so please expect a very spicy tea.  This is a mellow tea with essence of pumpkin, creamy sweet background, and a light flavoring of seasonal spices.  This is great straight but lately I have been making it as a stovetop latte.  I have a post about just how I did this on my blog.  I will link it here.  Pumpkin Tea Latte Recipe Creamy Pumpkin Spice Pic
  2. Winter Frost – Also a black-based tea I actually enjoy this blend year around.  I know my husband can’t live without it.  It is his absolute favorite tea ever.  It is bright, minty, with deep undertones.  It blends peppermint, cinnamon, and vanilla flavors.  I would like to make is as a cold blended tea similar to a Frappuccino from Starbucks but have yet to try it.  When I do I will report back of course. Winter Frost

I don’t want to go to into these teas as they are mine and I am partial to them but feel free to read the unbiased reviews of the others that drank these on their blogs in case you are curious of their feelings.  Lastly, below is the card I put together for our mini-holiday project.  I love card making and scrapbooking so including this was a ton of fun.

Halloween Card

Tandem Tea Tasters

Lazy Literatus

Tea For Me Please

Bingley Teas

Tea Lovers Archives

Scandalous Tea

 

Tea Magazine Holiday Gift Guide – November 2013 Issue

How exciting our newly reformulated Rose Petal & Green Tea {Goat’s Milk Bath} has been selected to be featured in this year’s holiday gift guide.  It contains real green tea extract, rose petals, replenishing Epsom salt, and goats milk.  Everything you need to keep you relaxed this holiday season or give to a person you know in need of the most pampering this year.  We all know just about someone who could stand to slow down and relax a little.

Rose Petal & Green Tea New Pic 1

 

theDevotea & iHeartTeas Holiday Gift Pack Collaboration

For the last 4 to 5 months I have been working with Nicole Schwartz, owner of theDevotea-USA to come up with some natural, tea-infused products to showcase our best products and talents.  Using her amazing tea blend known as 1,001 Nights I formulated an exclusive to theDevotea only products.  The first of many adventures I hope.  The first product made is an all-natural vegan cold process soap and the second also an all-natural, vegan lip balm.  The soap is geared more towards a bright vegetal lemongrass scent and the lip balm more balance with both fragrances but a touch more towards the side of peppermint.  We used no artificial colors or fragrance and just know you will love this pairing.  Don’t’ forget we tea-infused the oil used in both products with real tea, peppermint, lemongrass, and lemon myrtle which was provided by thedevotea.  It is sure to please everyone on your list this holiday season.  Perhaps this would make a wonderful present for you as well.

1,001 Nights Tea Soap & Lip Balm Pic 1

Last But Certainly Not Least!

Baby Ethan is arriving earlier than even expected before.  Now coming in Columbus Day this Monday the 14th.  Stayed Tuned!

Happy Dance