More Than Meh

A blog about the good things of life.

Tea Advent Calendar December 24, 2016

Filed under: Simple Pleasures — dwhren @ 7:54 am

At some point in December someone I follow on Twitter posted a link to a tea advent calendar from David’s Teas saying she wished she had enough money to justify buying it. At $40 it was a little pricey, but I decided that 2016 has been garbage, I could afford it, and this was a little something to help the year go out on a positive note for me.

Each day has a little jar of a different flavor of loose leaf tea. The little box around the jar tells you what flavor the tea is and the best way to prepare it. Getting this is making me super happy that my husband bought a fancy electric kettle that you can set the temperature on since the appropriate temperature for steeping the tea varies. Based on how much tea there is in each jar and how much I need for my morning tea mug I’ll probably get 3-4 servings out of each jar. That means this advent calendar will probably carry me through the winter, which is the only time I really drink hot tea in the morning making the $40 a worthwhile investment.

My friend Paul asked for a review of each of the teas, so the remainder of this post is for him. Here are all the teas I enjoyed during this advent season.

Day 1: Snow Day

I could tell by the smell of this tea and the little chocolate pieces in it when I scooped the loose tea into my infuser that this was going to be a chocolate mint tea. I am not usually a big mint person, so I was a little disappointed this was the flavor on my first day. However, it turns out that I actually really enjoyed this tea. So kudos to David’s Teas for making a chocolate mint tea that I not only tolerated but enjoying drinking.

Day 2: Jumpy Monkey

David’s Teas may have made me a mint chocolate tea that I managed to like, but they could not pull off making me like coffee. There’s a reason I drink tea not coffee. Today’s tea had coffee beans in it, which I could tell as soon as I opened it. Based on that I was pretty sure today’s tea was going to be a big fail for me and it was. If I wanted to drink something that tasted like coffee I would drink coffee.

Day 3: Genmaicha

Today’s tea is a Japanese green tea that also contains puffed and toasted rice. It’s like drinking a rice cake. I’m not a fan.

Day 4: Organic Serenity Now

This is an herbal tea with lots of berry and flower flavors mixed together. I thought it was tasty.

Day 5: Coffee Cake

I was a little worried when I opened this one up that it was going to be another coffee flavored tea, but it wasn’t. It was a black tea with some sweet flavors to it. Pineapple was listed as one of the ingredients and I could see some chunks of dried pineapple in it, though there wasn’t an overwhelming flavor of pineapple. Another winner.

Day 6: Apple Cider

Based on the name you may have already surmised this tea had an apple cider flavor. I’m here for it.

Day 7: Nutty and Spice

Today’s tea had lots of big chunks of fruit and other things, I’m guessing some nuts? It was delicious. Probably my favorite so far. Sadly the big chunks mean there are fewer servings leftover in the jar than the others I’ve had so far.

Day 8: Organic Ginger Pear

A white tea flavored with ginger and pear. It’s decent, but not my favorite. I probably would never buy it on its own.

Day 9: Forever Nuts

A cinnamony, nutty tea. I like.

Day 10: Green Passion Fruit

I liked the way this tea tasted. I just wasn’t in the mood for drinking something fruity on a cold December morning. It didn’t seem like a good tea to drink cozy under a blanket on my couch staring at a Christmas tree. It’s not the tea’s fault though.

Day 11: Hot Chocolate

The base tea in this was pu’erh, which is a fermented tea. I think this is the first time I’ve ever had it. I had never even heard of it before I read a book centered around it a few weeks ago. This was sweetened with some chocolate, but you could definitely taste the fermentation beneath it. I don’t know that it’s my thing.

Day 12: Bear Trap

Today’s tea is a whole mess of berry flavors. It’s a straight fruit infusion. I think it might have worked better combined with some sort of tea leaves. It’s a bit much.

Day 13: Creme Caramel Roobios

A sweetj Roobios tea. I enjoyed it.

Day 14: Irish Breakfast Tea

Your standard black tea. I’m a fan of breakfast teas, so I liked this. I probably would have enjoyed it more if I added a little bit of milk and sugar as the Irish would have wanted, but that’s my fault not the tea’s.

Day 15: Coconut Cream Pie

Cocoutty. Not my favorite flavor in a tea.

Day 16: Strawberry Rhubarb

Another strictly fruit infusion. It tasted good, but I stand by my point that I like some actual tea in my tea.

Day 17: Chocolate Covered Almond

A black tea with almond and chocolate pieces in it. It was ok. I’ve determined that I don’t care that much for the teas with chocolate pieces in them. They taste too much like watered down hot chocolate.

Day 18: Sleigh Ride

Another fruit infusion. This one had lots of fruit in it, but one of those fruits was raisins and that’s all I could taste. Why would you put raisins in tea? Why would you put raisins in anything?

Day 19: Organic Toasted Almond Green

Green tea with toasted almond pieces in it. It had the almond type flavor that comes with almond extract or in marzipan. My husband and I have a fight every year over spritz cookies at Christmas because I don’t care for the version with almond extract and insist on making them with vanilla instead. So I surprised myself by actually enjoying this tea.

Day 20: Cardamom French Toast

I already knew I liked this tea because I bought a whole bag of it. I needed to spend $10 when I bought the advent calendar to get free shipping, so I bought a couple of bags of loose tea. This was one of the flavors. Even if I hadn’t had it before I would have been pretty confident based on the name that it would be right up my alley. I love me some cardamom.

Day 21: Spiced Apple

Pretty much just what it sounds like. A nice little cozy tasting treat coming up on the holidays.

Day 22: English Toffee

This is another pur’eh based tea. I wasn’t a super fan of the fermented flavor of the last one of these I drank, but this one isn’t as bad. I wouldn’t say it actually tastes like toffee in any way, but it is sweet.

Day 23: Organic Kashmiri Chai

A green tea version of chai. I’ve never had chai with a green tea base before. It pretty much tasted like chai, but was kind of mind-bendy since I’m used to my chai tea looking black.

Day 24: Santa’s Sleigh

A black tea with a peppermint flavor. We kind of come full circle ending on another tea with a mint (though peppermint this time) flavor in it. Again David’s managed to make me enjoy this tea even though I’m not a big fan of mint/peppermint.

This has been fun. I’ll probably do it again next year.

 

Out of the Blocks December 22, 2016

Filed under: Baltimore,Podcasts — dwhren @ 8:41 pm

I have failed you dear reader. In starting think about what will be filling up the categories in my annual year end best of pop culture post, I realized that I never wrote up a post  (spoiler!) on my favorite podcast of the year, Out of the Blocks. I thought about it several times, but I guess always when I wasn’t in the mood to write or when I didn’t have time to write and it just never happened. But now that I’ve rectified the error of my ways you can download all the season one episodes for your listening enjoyment over your holiday travels.

Out of the Blocks is a radio show played on WYPR, Baltimore’s NPR station and then made available as a podcast. The show is produced by Aaron Henkin with music by Wendel Patrick. The show is exactly what its tagline implies: One hour of radio, one city block, everybody’s story. Henkin and Patrick choose one block in Baltimore and spend time there recording interviews with everyone associated with it. Depending on the block that can include people who work at businesses on the block, people who frequent the businesses, people who live on the block, or just people who hang out on that block for whatever reason including homeless people and drug dealers. All the interviews are then edited down for the hour-long show with each person’s story I would say averaging about five minutes.

Wendel Patrick composes the music based on the interviews often incorporating the sounds from the businesses or the street into the music. For instance in coffee shops you may hear the coffee brewing as part of the music or hear the buzz of electric razors in barber shops. They’re wonderful compositions that really enhance the stories that are being told and bringing about a sense of place to the pieces.

It truly amazes me the stories that come out of some of the people even after spending such a short time with Aaron Henkin. He really gets them to open up about some very personal things. People really just want to be heard and to tell their stories. It’s so fascinating.

Each block that they visit has it’s own personality and there are so many stories of immigrants and people just trying to make their way in a city that can be very hard. I know Baltimore like any big city has immigrants, but I really never realized how many places people are coming from until I listened to these eight podcast episodes. There are also some really sweet and amazing stories shared by people. I definitely cried more than once listening to this podcast.

I live in Baltimore, so obviously I feel some connection to the blocks in the podcast but I don’t think you need to know Baltimore in order to love this podcast. It’s really about humanity. It could be recorded in any city. It just happens to be recorded in Baltimore. I can’t recommend this podcast highly enough. I am so happy there’s going to be a second season in 2017.

 

Joseph, Pete Yorn, and the Head and the Heart Concert December 17, 2016

Filed under: Concerts,Music,Pop Culture — dwhren @ 10:28 am

 

Last night I went to WRNR’s Holiday Hoo-Ha at Rams Head Live featuring Joseph, Pete Yorn, and The Head and the Heart. Tickets for this concert went on sale shortly after I bought tickets to see The Head and the Heart at DAR Constitution Hall in DC. I like The Head and the Heart so I didn’t mind seeing them twice and I really, really wanted to see Joseph, who spoiler are going to show up in my best of 2016 pop culture post coming soon.

Joseph, a band of three sisters, are wonderful and were definitely the highlight of the night for me. I was sad that they were the first opening act and thus only had a short 30 minute set. I definitely hope to see them again soon when I get to see them play longer. It’s understandable because they have two albums of songs to choose from and such a short time to play, but they definitely didn’t get to everything I was hoping to hear. They were a lot of fun and their voices together are just lovely. My only complaint about their set aside from the fact that it wasn’t long enough was it seemed like the mix was a little off on some of the songs with the drums overwhelming the vocals and other music. I’m pretty sure White Flag is going to need to be my mantra for 2017.

Going into this concert I knew I probably knew some Pete Yorn songs because I recognized his name, but I definitely couldn’t have told you what any of them were. I didn’t bother to look him up or listening to anything before going. I did wind up knowing more of his songs than I thought I probably would, but I still wasn’t super excited by his set. It was just him and his guitar, which is sometimes a great thing but not what I was really in the mood for last night. I don’t dislike Pete Yorn, but I obviously don’t care enough about his music to seek it out or really pay attention to the fact that I know it. I was so tired last night and his set did not help pep me up. I really wish he and Joseph had switched places in the line-up so they got the longer opening set. He played for 50 minutes and I was really ready for him to be done by the end. He even faked us out saying he was playing his last song and then when it was over saying oh do I have time for one more? I do, okay great. When he asked if the crowd wanted him to play one more I definitely heard a lot of no’s including mine. The girl behind me said no, I can’t take this. I’m so tired. I’m right there with you sister.

The Head and the Heart always put on a good show. I didn’t enjoy this set as much as the one I saw in October at DAR. Probably a lot of it was me and not them. I was really struggling with how tired I was by the time they took the stage at 10, and my back hurt from standing around on the concrete floor. I’m old and appreciated the earlier time and the seat at DAR. Plus they played a lot more stuff from their new album this show, which I was surprised they didn’t at DAR. More power to them to do that. It makes sense since that is the album they’re out touring to promote, but I just don’t know that album as well as their earlier too yet and neither did most of the crowd. There were a lot of sing-a-long moments at the DAR show that I enjoyed that didn’t happen last night because people didn’t know the songs. It was still a good show, but of all the times I’ve seen them this was probably my least favorite.