I’ve been on a tea latte kick lately and turning at least half of my cups of tea into latte versions. To do this, all you really need to do is add some sweetener and steamed milk to the drink. The trick to a successful latte is finding the right sweetener. Some teas simply need a little sugar. Others need a little vanilla. For my Irish Breakfast Tea Latte, I like to use honey.
Honey compliments the dark, smooth flavor of Irish breakfast tea quite well (especially Punjana, but this is also true of other types) and adds sweetness without distracting from the tea. Frankly, a good Irish breakfast tea should be able to stand up to a generous amount of milk whether it is sweetened or not, but adding the honey makes for a more satisfying and well rounded drink. And yes, it is perfect with breakfast.
Punjana tea is relatively new to US markets, but readers in Ireland or Scotland will probably recognize the name, as the tea brand has been popular there for more than a century. To give you an idea of how popular the tea is, something along the lines of 60,000 cups of Punjana tea are said to be drunk every hour of the day, 365 days a year. Given that it’s popular Irish tea, it seemed appropriate for me to start out with the Punjana Irish Breakfast Tea for my first tasting of this brand. The tea comes bagged and ready to brew.
The tea has a very classic Irish breakfast tea flavor – to the point where it is almost difficult to describe it because it is exactly what you expect to get from a good Irish breakfast tea! It is a strong and smoothly flavored black tea. It is very fresh and “clean” tasting – no dry notes, as from poorer quality tea or tea that has been sitting around too long. The tea takes well to different brew strengths, so double the amount of tea will get you a cuppa that will stand up to milk easily and you’ll still get the same clear flavor as you do from a single teabag brewed black.
This is a wonderful everyday tea for a tea fan, or for someone who wants a cuppa that can take the place of a cup of coffee and still be very satisfying.
The first self-stirring mug I had I picked up a few years ago. It was battery operated, made of plastic and marketed as being ideal for hot chocolate. Long story short, the mug wasn’t powerful to blend most hot chocolate mixes (not if you wanted a lot of chocolate, anyway!) and a pain in the butt to clean because it had big, non-removable blades at the bottom. This Stainless Steel Self-Stirring Mug is a big improvement. This sleek looking mug has a small disk at the bottom that spins rapidly at the touch of a button, easily blending things like sugar and cocoa powder into hot liquids. The mug is battery operated and is fairly strong when the batteries are fresh, and it comes with a lid that makes this a convenient travel mug, not just a gadget to use around the house. Rechargeable batteries are the way to go with a cup like this one, as batteries that have lost some of their juice won’t blend up your drinks as well.
All that said, I still don’t have a self stirring mug to call my own. I did recently gift one of these to a hot chocolate loving friend (who kindly let me give it a try!), so I’d put it on my short list if I were in the market for another similar gadget!
I am a big fan of Kona coffee, and while not many coffees will beat out a perfectly roasted and brewed cup of Kona in my book, it is well worth noting that there is a lot of coffee grown in Hawaii outside of Kona and a lot of it is really excellent – and more affordable than pure Kona. Trader Joe’s 100% Hawaiian Coffee is one of these. This coffee is a single-plantation coffee grown in Hawaii but outside of the Kona area. Trader Joe’s won’t say exactly which plantation produces the beans, but at less than half the price of Kona beans, it’s worth a little mystery.
This coffee is a very dark roast with strong earthy flavors and a hint of smokiness. It does not have the berry overtones than some of my favorite dark roasts have, and instead has a woodsy and slightly spicy finish to it that reminds me of cloves. TJ’s says it makes good espresso, and I can see that because it’s clear that this is an all around coffee. It blends very well with milk and would stand up to the other flavors in something like a mocha or vanilla latte.