Good Bye Teavana

Like the death of an old but dear friend that I kept meaning to get in touch with … and then boom they’re gone. That’s kind of what I feel like. (Only a lot less personal.)

Starbucks purchased the Teavana tea chain a few years ago. A lot of Teavana fans wondered then if that was the beginning of the end. Starbucks: Teavana killer.

This past July Starbucks announced they would close all 379 retail locations of Teavana — news that flew under my radar (probably because I’d stocked up on Teavana at their last seasonal sale and didn’t need to buy more).

Two days ago I received the normal sale email from Teavana only instead of “normal” it was a EVERYTHING is 50% off because WE’RE CLOSING TEAVANA.com SALE which shocked me. But I still didn’t buy anything right then. I wasn’t sure what I needed and it was busy week. Plus the Teavana.com website was never the best — especially for sale tea because they had a pretty bad inventory system. Teas you thought were available to purchase would change to out-of-stock after you placed your order, so that you then had to hope for a timely refund.

The email claimed that Teavana.com would stay open until December 15, so I figured I had time. Then boom, yesterday, December 1st, I received another email from Teavana saying, “oh sorry, our bad, we’re closed now.”

Done. Finito.

All (or nearly all inventory) sold out in only two days! But the email suggested I visit their retail stores which were still open.

So yesterday night I visited the nearest Teavana store while my daughter was in her Friday-night dance class. Thankfully, the mall was fairly empty by that time even though it’s the holiday shopping time of year. Crowded shopping malls are so not my favorite. But there were a couple of Teavana favorites I wanted to check for, and I generally wanted to see what they had in stock on sale. Yay, sale tea! Their normal prices were always on the high side. It’s the time of year I drink a lot of tea. I’ve been filling my Teavana tea tumbler with tea every morning.

Well I visited Teavana so late in the day, that they were already out of all the brewed sample tea they usually have, so bummer. But I was happy to find our Teavana store are still open, and learned two things.

1.) Not everything is on sale at the stores. (At least not yet.)

2.) They are already sold out of some items.

I grabbed a few favorites like Jasmine Dragon Pearls and Darjeeling de Triomphe, a new Oolong, a bit of on-sale, new-to-me fruit teas that smelled excellent like Strawberry Daiquiri and Mandarin Mimosa, and an extra Teavana Perfect Tea maker along with two of the measuring spoons emblazoned with “Teavana.” I misplaced my old measuring spoon, and it makes a nice Teavana remembrance. I love my Teavana Perfect Teamaker, and now I have an extra (and prettier) one for if mine ever breaks.

Most of the teas are currently 50% off in stores except the seasonal teas like White Chocolate Peppermint which are still full price. That may change, but they usually sell quickly. A few clearance teas are 75% off. The Perfect Tea Maker was only 30% off, but that’s still pretty good.

There are many excellent places to purchase tea both in person and online. But Teavana was convenient for me, the staff was always friendly and fairly knowledgeable, and I liked that I could smell and often taste the tea in person. I’ll visit again before it’s completely gone, but I’ll miss that little tea oasis at the mall called Teavana.

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Zombies, Buns, and More to Come (And NaBloPoMo Day 2 Happens)

For Halloween my daughter dressed as a zombie. It was a creepy look for her until she smiled and these clean white teeth shined out from the gloomy makeup. It made me giggle.

Not sure if she’ll trick or treat next year as she might be getting a little old for it. It was still fun this year for both of us.

I started a Halloween story which is kind of funny since the other story I was working on could, in a way, be considered a little Halloween-y too.

I have been testing the Princess-Leia-buns hairdo on both me and on one of our cats. The other cat would never sit still long enough for this nonsense. This did not make the patient cat especially happy either.

I mean, he didn’t mind me with my hair in buns so much, but I got an elastic set of buns that was made for dogs and tried those on him. It seemed fitting for Halloween and will be handy come December. He, as usual, was adorable. He’s very good at putting up with me. I bring home cat food and am mostly very nice to him.

Zombies and buns is my brief entry for Day 2, November 2 of NaBloPoMo. Hey, it’s something.

More to come soon:

A new review of Teavana tea — yummy!

A review of some seasonal Glade fragrances. This is a new thing for me to post. I’m a fairly new fan of Glade. But I love the autumn scents which are on clearance many places now.

And I may even post a Zombie Apples recipe and make some Apple Butter in the near future. Thank you to (name goes here soon but if I look it up now I won’t get this post done by midnight) for the apple butter idea. I can’t get it out of my head now. I love apple butter and it’s a little hard to find in the stores (not to mention yummy to cook).



Woke Up

That I was tired this morning was nothing new. My attempt at making a hot beverage was.

I put a cup in the microwave so that I could make myself a quick cup of tea or maybe instant coffee. (I know, I know — instant, the horrors, right?)

Zapping it for one minute, our recently installed, new microwave beeped in readiness. I opened the door and picked up my somewhat warm cup only to discover it was dry as a bone.

The microwave had not boiled it out or magically beamed it to another planet. I had failed to put any water in the cup. The microwave must have warmed the small amount of ambient moisture so that parts of the cup and inside of the microwave were warm. That seemed like a really bad thing.

I feared I’d broken our new microwave. Shorted it. I was still craving a hot, caffeine-containing beverage. Clearly, I needed one. Maybe two. I tried again. I made sure I filled the cup with water this time and once again put it in the microwave, setting it to “cook” for one minute.

The microwave sounded different. I knew that sound — the sound of a fan blowing without the magical hum of a magnetron (the part that cooks) in the background. This was the sound our previous microwave made when it was “on” but not heating anything. Broken. That’s why we got the new microwave…

“Oh please, I do not want to go through that again,” I mentally pleaded to the god or goddess of kitchen appliances and regular God too. “Please let it not be broken.”

Maybe I was wrong about the sound. I opened and closed the microwave, turning it off and on again. I let it run for a bit. If it was already broken I couldn’t possibly break it more, could I? Then that distinct background hum finally kicked in. It was working again.

But by the time it beeped, my cup of water was only vaguely warm. Not hot. Dare I zap it some more? I decided to let the whole machine cool a bit. Maybe it had some kind of safety feature that turns off the magnetron if some half asleep idiot tries to zap an empty cup something gets too hot inside. I hoped.

Once all had cooled, sure enough it worked fine. Yay! I zapped my cup. And in about a minute I had a piping hot, not-so-instant, cup of coffee. A pot on the stove would’ve been quicker and tasted better too. But it worked.

Harbor Breeze by Capital Teas: a mini review

Harbor Breeze by Capital Teas is a refreshing fruity tisane. It contains a good bit of hibiscus so it’s a win if you like hibiscus but not so great if you don’t. It also contains apples, rosehips and other dried fruit, along with lovely calendula petals. The calendula petals are a beautifully sunny contrast to the deep magenta hibiscus, but don’t do much for taste. The apple bits, however, add a softer fruity flavor that mellows the hibiscus giving it better balance than some I’ve tried. It’s tart but not too tart. I find this to be a really satisfying combination when I’m craving a fruity hibiscus tisane.

Upturned Noses and Glasses and Buns

The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt is Upturned Noses which asks:

Even the most laid back and egalitarian among us can be insufferable snobs when it comes to coffee, music, cars, beer, or any other pet obsession where things have to be just so. What are you snobbish about?

I like to try a lot of different foods, so maybe I’m snobbish about that. I don’t quite understand people who refuse to try something new. “What do you mean you won’t try the eel scaloppine with fried mealworms in peanut butter sauce?”

I can probably be snobbish about tea and maybe mead and some kinds of food. Except that, really, I’ll still drink or enjoy just about any kind.

I adore good tea — perfect jasmine green infused with the scent of actual blossoms, not just added flavoring. That’s snobbery talk right there. A Greener oolong that has matured into a delicate floral or a darker robust oolong from Taiwan. Yum! New Darjeeling you think is great? I’ll try that too.

I like a good basic mead — Chaucer’s the kind we can get at our local Renaissance Festival and elsewhere is certainly enjoyable. Fox Hill Special Reserve which is made with a darker honey has a bit of bitterness and a lot of depth. Some Redstone Mountain Mead can be impressive too. It’s real mead made in small batches — some can be bitter and some wonderful. They even date the batches, so you’ll want to get more of the same date if you like a batch. That’s mead for a mead snob for sure.

Unless I’m allergic, it could poison me, or it’s a dish that exhibits unusual cruelty, I’ll usually try any kind of food. I read about a Japanese dish called Ikizukuri where live fish is sliced and served still moving. I think I’ll avoid that, thanks.

But I do love to taste a variety of new things! I love gourmet dishes that have the perfect balance of flavors, colors, and textures, but I also love hot dogs from gas stations that have been roasting on those metal rollers for hours thus reducing water content and enhancing flavors. You do not know a good hot dog if you turn your nose up at those things. So maybe that’s makes me a hot dog snob. Is it wrong to have a hot dog with my beautiful jasmine tea? Maybe. The darker oolong would probably be better with hot dogs.

In Search of the Iron Buddha: A Tea Review

Iron Buddha Oolong tea from Teavana was one of my all time favorite teas! Teavana sold it at $10/2oz for many years, and I thought it would never end. It did. Teavana discontinued it, instead offering only Monkey Picked Oolong (good, but expensive at $25/2oz) or various flavored and scented Oolongs. Those are fine too, but are no Iron Buddha Oolong! And I’m no tea expert–my teacabulary is at noob level, but I have been drinking tea for most of my years and I know what my taste buds like. They like good tea–it can be green, black, oolong or herbal, but there are some which absolutely sing in my mouth and I have a hard time getting enough.

Now, alas, I can’t get any more Iron Buddha Oolong and so began a quest. I’ve tasted quite a lot of teas along the way. Side-tracked by greens at times to be sure, I thought Ti Guan Yin (Iron Goddess of Mercy also sometimes called Iron Buddha) might be a good replacement because of the word “iron” in the name. Ti Guan Yin is very good too, but there is a much better match as far as flavor and that’s what matters to me.

Drumroll please… actually lets make it a kettle whistle. [Kettle whistle]

The winner is Jade Oolong Tea ($53.99/lb or about $7/2oz) sourced from Taiwan and purchased in bulk at Wegmans. Oolongs can vary a great deal in their amount of fermentation so that some are closer to green teas and others lean toward black. This oolong reminds me of a Chinese green in appearance and it’s very similar to Monkey Picked in many ways (only less expensive), but there isn’t anything quite like it (except other teas which are like it). Wegmans was a nice choice for experimentation since they offer bulk teas which can be purchased in small quantities. That way I could easily and relatively inexpensively taste all of their oolongs, of which they had quite a few, and compare to my last remaining bits of genuine Teavana Iron Buddha.

Color and flavor: Jade Oolong Taiwan brews up a light golden amber with a complex orchid yumminess. Not as overtly single-note floral as jasmine teas, this has the clean, clear complexity of a fine daytime perfume in teacup form. There is a pleasant amount of astringency, only the slightest waft of grassy green and almost no roasted flavor at all. It is anchored with a hint of earthiness. Delicious!

While some may find this or Iron Buddha too strong, I say (hopefully politely), “You’re doing it wrong!” Perhaps complaints of the strength is part of what prompted Teavana to discontinue Iron Buddha. It may seem obvious, but if it’s too strong for you, be careful not to over steep–use less tea or brew for a shorter amount of time. Since this tea works exceptionally well for multiple infusions, you may enjoy the second or third infusion best. I love the first brew, but if you don’t, consider pouring it off and chilling for iced tea. Subsequent infusions tend to bring out the mellow, earthy flavors. Each one is different. I like them all.

Leaves: The leaves are a deep jade green that are rolled tightly like pellets, but not as tight or fully round as, say, gunpowder green or jasmine pearl teas. Small before steeping, they unfurl elegantly in the 190-195 degree water as they release their flavor–transforming into beautiful, detailed, full, large leaves. These will quickly expand to fill a tea ball or even a tea strainer if you’re not careful. Cramped tea leaves results in less flavor, more wasted tea and the inability to visually enjoy the leaves as they unfurl. I suggest using a really large tea strainer or adding tea directly to the pot and pouring all water into cups after brewing for 3-4 minutes. The large leaves are easy to strain.

This tea is lovely through multiple infusions as subtle nuances evolve.
Time for more!

Copyright © 2010 Deb L. Kapke