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Tag: Steepster

The Great Canadian Travelling Tea Box

Free tea! A great, big, ginormous box of it! Delivered right to my doorstep!

In one of my very first posts I talked about how people on Steepster are so generous and trusting that they often swap samples of tea with each other through the mail. Another thing we do is coordinate “Travelling Tea Boxes.” This is where person A sends a box full of tea to Person B. Person B receives the box, samples whatever teas strike their fancy, takes out teas that they want to keep, and then replaces what they’ve taken with teas from their own personal stash that others want to try. Then Person B sends to Person C and the cycle repeats itself.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: The Great Canadian Travelling Tea Box:


It’s a thing of beauty.


I mean seriously, there is a lot of tea in here.


A lot.



Many of the teas in this box are ones I’ve had during previous rounds of the box’s travels (this is the fifth time the box has crossed the country, and the third time I’ve taken part). Because of this, I decided to try some of the more exotic/hard-to-find blends that others have added.

So what teas did I try out? Let’s take a look.

Fake Mead — Liquid Proust Teas

This is a Nepalese black tea mixed with bee pollen, powdered honey, and bee bread. I’m not entirely sure what “bee bread” is, but Wikipedia tells me that it’s a mix of pollen, honey, and stuff secreted by bees. The tea is similar to Darjeeling so I used a lower temperature than normal to steep it. However, I don’t taste much of anything beyond black tea in this.

I actually tried a few teas from Liquid Proust here, since he’s a US-based Etsy seller and I’m trying to stop buying more tea. The Travelling Tea Box was a perfect way to try his teas without breaking my self-imposed tea-buying hiatus. You can learn more about Liquid Proust Teas here.

Peche et Thyme — Fauchon

One of my Torontonian tea friends went on a trip to Europe last year and came back with a truly ridiculous amount of teas from France. This is one of them. While the dry leaf smells peachy, the thyme definitely comes out more to play in the brewed tea.

However, as it got colder in my cup (I let it sit for too long), the thyme flavour became all wonky. It paired up with the peach flavour in a weird way to taste musty and artificial. I’ve never had Fauchon teas, but I’ve heard very good things about them. I thus assumed that my reaction to this tea meant I was some sort of uncultured boor who can’t grok the delicacy of refined French things, but others have told me that this tea is much better iced and sweetened. Ah well. It’s too cold for that sort of thing right now.

This Keemun is BS (Blackberry Sage) — Liquid Proust Teas

Going further down the “tea flavoured with both fruit and savoury herbs” route, I took this tea out of the box, curious. This one is definitely a more successful blend of flavours, as I could taste the fruit, plus a savoury undertone, but the former was stronger than the latter. There was a really jammy, rich quality to the fruit flavouring that reminded me more of blackcurrant rather than blackberry. I saw a chunk of dried fruit in the dry leaf, but unfortunately I didn’t get a closer look at it.

Pomme — Hediard

Others have said that this tastes like apple and cinnamon, but I didn’t get that much apple OR cinnamon flavour in the dry leaf. Instead, when the tea was brewed, I got a hint of apple plus a hint of toffee – dark, sugary, toasty. Ultimately, this was very smooth going down; good easy drinking. I bet it would have tasted even better with some agave syrup.

No. 93, Feng Ming Ling Ye — Bellocq Tea Atelier

Another fancy French tea! I couldn’t tell whether this was a green or an oolong, because it was rolled up into tiny dark green nuggets like an oolong, but had a rich, nutty taste that reminded me somewhat of a gunpowder green. This was worth it to try, but it didn’t really wow me, as there was a vegetal undertone to it that I wasn’t a fan of.

Oolberry — Liquid Proust Teas

Another Liquid Proust tea? Well, since I don’t plan on making any online tea orders in the near future, I might as well take advantage of some unique blends while I can. This one is a very very twiggy oolong with some fruit flavouring added. I’m having a hard time isolating the flavours on this one, but I’m getting a similar sort of blackberry/blackcurrant note as I found in the Blackberry Sage Keemun above. I can also taste the base tea underneath, which I think is a lightly roasted Tie Guan Yin. As the tea cools, the fruit flavour fades and the base comes out more.

The Aftermath

I tried only a small sample of teas in the box, but I did take a few out and add a few new ones of my own. The box was huge when I got it, and still huge when I mailed it to the next person on the list. Here’s hoping they enjoy it, and that you might be inspired to try starting up a box of your own one day.

A Look Into My Tea Cabinet

One thing I love about Steepster is that the people on it like to do swaps. You can look at someone else’s cupboard, contact them (politely, of course) to express your interest in trying something they have, and find out if they’re game to exchange teas with you. Hell, people often arrange mass tea swaps in groups in a box that travels from home to home.

Steepster-folk are generous, is what I’m saying.

So warmed my heart when I saw a surprise in Monday’s mail: a padded envelope full of samples from Yunnan Sourcing from a fellow Steepster member in the GTA. We’ve agreed to subscribe to a few tea boxes together and split them so we each get to try new varieties. I guess this was her way of starting things on a high note!

The only problem? The cabinet I use to store tea is full near to bursting. (But there’s still more on the way. Heh.) Which made me think: why not talk about what teas I store and how I store them?

So, ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to my tea cabinet.

tea_cabinet_openI got this fellow last summer when the hodgepodge of baskets I used to store things threatened to take over the dining room table and I was begged to reduce the clutter. After quick search on Kijiji, I saw this lovely specimen on sale nearby for $25 and picked it up. It’s about 6 feet tall, 2 feet wide, and a foot or so deep. A nice deal, if I may say so myself.

The baskets in the tea cabinet are colour-coded for each type of tea: caffeine-free herbals in the orange basket on the top shelf next to the teapots and gaiwans; green and white teas on the second shelf, with separate baskets for flavoured and unflavoured greens; black teas on the third shelf, again split into flavoured and unflavoured; and pu’erh, oolong, and rooibos teas on the bottom shelf. The bottom shelf also has some miscellaneous empty tins.

It’s not a perfect system since some baskets are really overloaded (the unflavoured black tea basket in particular is an explodey sort of place), but I’m quite happy with the results. It also smells damn nice inside — all herbal and sweet and comforting.

If you’re curious about the baskets themselves, I got them from Home Outfitters. However, their site doesn’t list what products they sell. (Seriously, Home Outfitters? It’s 2015. Your site should show more than your most current flyer.) These ones from Amazon look pretty similar.

There are lots of other ways to store tea, and I’ve seen some lovely and inventive storage spaces among my friends and fellow tea drinkers. I’ll share their photos and stories in the future.

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