Tea Time: Ti Kuan Yin Oolong (Review)

Well, I finally got to visit the tea shop My Cup of Tea again, after having been away from Montreal for a year. You would think that in Korea I could have visited some nice tea sMy Cup of Teahops and tasted some interesting teas, but though I went to a tea expo, it seemed to be less about tea and more about crockery.

My Cup of Tea

In any case, I wanted to pick up some of their Milky Oolong, which I hadn’t tasted in a long time, so I headed over to China town, where the shop is located on St. Laurent. The staff was helpful as always, and you’re free to smell thMCOT tease tea samples. The boxes of teas also look colourful and inviting. While I was there, I decided to pick up a box of ginseng oolong, which I had already tried, as well as a box of Ti Kuan Yin oolong.

Ti Kuan Yin

This tea is a few dollars pricier than their other teas, at $18 for 100g as opposed to $15, and it is limited edition. When considering the price, however, one should keep in mind that these types of premium, whole leaf, hand-rolled teas can be re-steeped up to 3 times.

Ti Kuan Yin (back)

Ti Kuan Yin (front)

The Chinese Goddess of Mercy

According to the package, this tea is named after the Chinese goddess of mercy, and Kuan Yin is short for Kuan-shi Yinwhich means “observing the sounds (or cries) of the (human) world.” IN one legend, Kuan Yin sets out to save all sentient beings from their unhappy plight. However, since there were so many people who needed to be saved, she struggled so to comprehend their suffering that her head split into eleven pieces. When the budda saw what had happened to her, he gave her eleven heads. After that, she tried to reach out and help all of the beings who were struggling. However, since she only had two hands, they shattered into pieces. Again, the budda helped her, giving her one thousand arms.

While I’m not quite sure what the goddess has to do with this tea, I do enjoy reading such legends.

Taste

This tea has a rather delicate, mild flavour. It does carry a hint of Ti Kuan Yin (leaves)sweetness, but I wouldn’t really describe it as floral. I’d like to try it iced after over steeping it a bit, as I think that may help to draw out its flavour. Ti Kuan Yin does have an interesting mouth-feel and its delicate taste does linger on the tongue, as is described on the box.

Well, ’til next time…enjoy your cup of tea!

Site News: We Have Moved!

Hello, all! You may have noticed there are finally some new posts on this blog! I’m back in Montreal, now, so am starting to contribute to this blog once again.

You may also have noticed the site’s new look. I have moved from WordPress.com to a self-hosted site with WordPress.org. So, please update your bookmarks! I will be reviewing old posts over the next little while to make sure links are working etc., but feel free to let me know if you notice something amiss.

‘Til Later…

Seed Starting Time

Sure, there may have been a snowstorm here in Montreal just last week, but hey, it’s mid-April, and the snow has melted. One’s thoughts turn naturally to seeds, seedlings, and gardens…well, at least, mine do. I did start some seeds not too long ago, and some of them have sprouted! So, here are some photos for all of you. These will hopefully serve as a source of inspiration, or, if you’re new to starting seeds and are having trouble identifying your baby plants, these could help you with that, as well.

Note: I did sow my seeds more thickly than usually, since all are at least 2 years old, and thus, will have a lower germination rate.

seed-starting setup
I used a commercial seed starting mix here, and bottom heat
These look similar to oregano and marjoram seedlings.
Bergamot seedlings (these look similar to those of oregano and marjoram)
These seeds are obviously still viable!
Tomato seedlings (these seeds are obviously still viable!)
Cucumber seedlings look like this as well.
Top- Borage seedlings (those of cucumber look like this as well) Bottom- Marjoram
Basil seedlings
Basil

From Seeds to Seedlings: Some Tips

Though one can just stick one’s seeds into soil and wait for them to sprout, here are a few tips to help you maximize your success:

  1. Use fresh seeds- Though seed viability is different for every plant, and also depends on how the seeds are stored, most seeds maintain their vigor for only about 3 years
  2. Use a sterile seed starting mix– Whether you buy a commercial seed starting mix or mix one up yourself, using a sterile mix (as in, don’t use dirt from your yard or potting soil you’ve already used) will help you to avoid problems with pests and disease.
  3. Maintain consistent moisture-  Make sure your seed starting mix stays moist, so that seeds are able to sprout. This can be achieved by covering your seed-starting mix with a plastic dome, and/or by misting it with water.
  4. Place your flats in a warm place- Most seeds sprout faster when held at a higher temperature, and this is especially true of certain heat-loving vegetables like tomatoes and peppers
  5. Provide sufficient light- Though most seeds don’t need light in order to sprout, your seedlings will need light to grow into strong plants.

Cocktail Hour: Romeo’s Gin (Review)

Romeo's gin 1st edition
Romeo’s gin 1st edition

Wow, exciting things have been happening on the Quebec gin front since I’ve been abroad. Yet another new gin from la belle province has made its way onto store shelves…and this one is even being marketed as ‘Montreal Dry Gin’. What a great time it is to be a Montrealer…well, if you overlook the struggling economy, bad weather, and ever-present language tensions. Still, I’m glad to be back in the city after a year of pining for cheese, bread, beautiful churches, and artichokes. As an added homecoming bonus, this gin is good enough to help you forget your worries…Romeo’s martini, anyone?

Romeo’s Gin: Background Info

Romeo’s gin comes from the maker of Pur Vodka, entrepreneur Nicolas Duvernois. After realizing that the restaurant business wasn’t for him, but that vodka was very popular, he decided to look into producing his own. Pur vodka, at the time it came out (in 2009), was the only vodka made in Quebec, and is to date the most-awarded Canadian vodka. Another Quebec vodka has since come out (in 2014), Quartz vodka.

Romeo’s gin was released to the public sometime between December 2015 and January 2016. I’m not sure what inspired Nicolas to choose gin as his next project, but I’m glad he did, since it is one of my favourite types of spirit. I’m also not sure what the story behind its name is…when I asked the question on their Facebook page, I received the following reply: “We called it romeo’s gin because of several reasons… But mostly because it’s a love story between Montreal, gin and art !”

MoZ
Mo’Z

This brings up the next point which makes Romeo’s Gin cool and unique, its link with art. The original design of the bottle features a logo and a work of art, Mo’Z done by a local (Montreal) artist, Stikki Peaches. The logo is to change every year, and next year and for every year thereafter, the distillers plan on creating two different logos, one featuring  a local artist and one featuring an international artist. It’s certainly a great idea, one which will no doubt help to achieve Nicolas’ goals of democratizing art and promoting local artists. He has additionally created a foundation called Romeo’s which aims “to preserve, democratize and modern[ize?] art.” 50 cents from the sale of each bottle of gin will go to said foundation.

Romeo’s Gin Flavour

Romeo's gin gibson
Romeo’s gin gibson

The main aromatics which were chosen to flavour Romeo’s Gin are juniper, cucumber, dill, lavender, almond and lemon. When I smelled it, I was only able to detect the juniper scent, which told me it was, indeed, gin. When I tasted it on its own, it tasted strongly of cucumber. After mixing it with vermouth in order to make a martini, I was able to taste, in addition to the cucumber, a floral flavour from the lavender and a nuttiness from the almonds. The almond seems to give it a slight bitter finish, which I’m not sure I like, but it does seem to be growing on me. On the whole however, it is an excellent gin with a unique flavour, and tastes very fresh and smooth. Though the cucumber taste is predominant, as in Hendrick’s gin, its flavour is different and distinctive. It’s no wonder they have just walked away with their first award, a double gold metal, which they received from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition (2016).

‘Til next time, cheers to Montreal, art, and Romeo’s Gin!