Product Review: Seven Sisters Tea

It's a chilly -20 degrees in Vankleek Hill today.

It rained yesterday, and it's icy everywhere, the whole town is like a skating rink. I ventured outside only to pop over to the pharmacy, and since I work from home I can spend the rest of the day bundled up inside.

Once I came back in and got ready to settle into my afternoon in front of the computer working, I decided to brew up some of the Seven Sisters loose-leaf tea I have been given.

I received four teas to sample. I requested a creamy earl grey, a peppermint, and two surprises.

The first I tried is the Cream of Avalon, which Seven Sisters sent along to fit my creamy earl grey request.

The Cream of Avalon is a, "high grown Ceylon delightfully blended with creamy caramel, oil of bergamot and grapefruit notes," and it's lovely, creamy as the name suggests, and has a hint of sweetness hidden in the delightful tartness typical of a black tea.

The oil of bergamot is the flavour typical in earl grey teas and ads a mysterious floral taste that is just perfect.

One reason I love this tea is it tastes great hot or cold. I love an iced tea (unsweetened please!) and I think part of that love grew from a habit of making a giant cup and only drinking half of it before it got cold on my desk...but I still drink the rest. I regularly make unsweetened ice tea and keep it in the fridge, it's a perfect pick-me-up in the hot summer months, or even in the winter when you wake up feeling dry (especially if you have electric heat like me).

Today I'm making a smaller cup, so I can try all of the varieties! It's the perfect excuse to use my vintage mid-century Wedgwood tea cup and saucer I found at a thrift shop.

I also love my Ikea Vagrat tea strainer. So cute and functional!

I mentioned earlier that I also requested a peppermint tea to try. Peppermint is my favourite variety of herbal tea. A proper peppermint tea is made with peppermint leaves only (no artificial flavours please!)

Peppermint tea is cooling and uplifting, a great refreshing tea. It's helpful for digestion, so if you've had a heavy lunch and are feeling drowsy, this is the tea for you.

I mentioned that I asked to be surprised with the other two teas and wow, the third tea I opened definitely surprised me! It's not something I would smell and pick up for myself, so it was nice to be given it to try. The Lapsang Souchong black tea is a, "unique black tea from the Fujian province in China [which] is dried over pine embers and oxidized in wooden barrels creating a smooth crisp character with the remarkable and heady aroma of a pine and oak wood fire."

The scent of smoke is the first thing you notice when you open the tin of this brew. Smoke isn't generally a flavour I find appealing, though in small amounts I can appreciate it.

The story goes that this tea was created during the Qing era when the passage of armies delayed the annual drying of the tea leaves in the Wuyi Mountain. Eager to satisfy demand, the tea producers sped up the drying process by having their workers dry the tea leaves over fires made from local pines.(source).  

I'm surprised to say I really enjoyed this tea. Though the smoky aroma of the tea in the tin was too much for me, once it was brewed, the smoke flavour becomes more subtle as the citrus, clove, and vanilla flavours come forward, in this earthy tea that is perfect on this chilly winter day.

Click here to see a recipe video for a cocktail using smoked tea and mezcal, an agave spirit similar to tequila, that also has a smoky flavour. I'll admit I haven't actually tried it, but my instinct is to mix an iced Lapsang Souchong tea with rum and orange flavours. I found a similar recipe to that instinct here in the form of a smoky Manhattan. I'm putting that cocktail on the to-try list!

The last tea I'm trying today is a herbal blend, what Seven Sisters call the Yogitea.

The Yogitea is a calming tea that I think would also be really lovely as an iced tea. It has strong citrus scent and the spearmint flavour is also quite pronounced. This tea contains citrus peel, chamomile, orange blossoms, lemongrass, spearmint, hibiscus and rosehips.

It would make a lovely tea for after a yoga class, is that where the name comes from? Who knows, but I can imagine the calm meditative mindset would pair well with this tea which is rich in flavour but still subtle and soothing.

The Seven Sisters website lets you order their wide range of loose leaf teas, tea infusers, and other accessories online, and also has a great blog with all sorts of recipes from tea-infused beer (um...that sounds like a yes to me) to tea-infused salad dressing! The Seven Sisters company is run by Markcol, a small independent Canadian coffee and tea company based in Bowmanville, Ontario.

Read more about the health benefits tea on Canadian Living.com.
Read more about the health benefits of various herbal teas.
Suffering from winter skin? Read about how chamomile tea can help.


Looking Ahead to 2015

2014 was a big year for me. A year ago I was moving to a new (tiny) town, starting a new job, and moving in with my boyfriend of a year and a half and hoping for the best.

In that year I've travelled to Halifax and Las Vegas for fun, Toronto, Edmonton, Essex Vermont and Montreal for work, and all across Ontario on a regular basis for visits with people I care about. It's been busy and fulfilling and fun. And I've grown to adore this tiny town I now call home. 

And while in Las Vegas, I got engaged to my favourite person ever.

So 2015 looks like it will be a doozie. I've decided to focus on my own creativity in 2015, in spending time getting various ideas I've had for a while moving again. Since planning our wedding is my major project for the year, I want to take on limited volunteer work or projects that I'm not totally passionate about to make time and energy available to myself. 

I want to spend more time reading books, and less time reading things on the Internet. Unplugging is important. I received a copy of Alice Munro's Lives of Girls and Women for Xmas and it reminded me how much I enjoy short stories...especially good now that my attention span is so short. I want to read more short stories and possibly write some as well. 

I want to draw more, write more, create more, blog more, and so on. I definitely intend to focus on my output being more consistent and not just for specific needs, but also for relaxation. Sometimes it's hard to disconnect from consuming content and remember it's just as relaxing for me to create it as it is to quietly consume it.

As for career goals, this year I want to get around to creating an online portfolio and have already started building it. Otherwise in this area I think 2015 will be fairly stable as I plan to focus on other areas more. For too many years in a row I've been overly concerned with career development. It's time to focus on personal creative development. 

I guess I see planning a wedding as part of that too. That's creative and part of my personal life as well. I am just pinning like mad and the vision is starting to come together. 

I'll share my projects here when appropriate but be sure to follow me on my other social sites as I travel through my 35th year. 

Happy New Year to you! 


Jenn Grant in Montreal

I saw Jenn Grant play at Petit Campus in Montreal tonight. Her set was full of ethereal sounds and melancholy vocals. I wasn't actually expecting it to be quite so melancholy in tone, but it seems she was playing to the crowd's mood. 

Check out a good selection of Grant's 
music on her CBC page. Check it out here: http://music.cbc.ca/artists/Jenn-Grant

Grant is from the east coast and has an easy stage presence and truly flawless voice. Worth a listen:


Product Review: Elle Fulton

I love wearing vintage jewellery. In fact, I recently got engaged and my fiance knew me well enough to know that I would appreciate wearing my grandmother's ring more than a big blingy new one. And now that I'm wearing it, wearing new jewellery alongside it just doesn't work.

In an exceptionally well-timed turn of events I received a package in the mail from Elle Fulton this week asking me to review their vintage jewellery collection. I was super excited about it because the collection is vintage jewellery, that has never been worn before!

When I opened the postal package, I was delighted to see a petite printed gift box. Wrapped with a pretty black bow and branded with the company's name, the box contained a selection of their vintage charms for me to try out.

The package also contained a note from Tina, the company's founder. In it she explains that the jewellery line is created from new old-stock pieces sourced from warehouses across Canada and the USA. Those pieces are combined with new findings and charms that she convinced one small manufacturer to being making again out of old casting molds. Some of the items were even sourced from the basement of a family who had kept a stash of these items from an old business for decades! 

These pieces come from an era before costume jewellery was all made overseas. The brand has a mission to bring North America's lost jewellery back to the public. It's a fascinating story that tells the tale of a passion project that has turned into a business.

The Canadiana collection is the first items I had to try right out of the box. The Ontario necklace and Canada ring are instant favourites and total conversation pieces when worn; the most common being, "Where did you get that?!"

The Mountie ring is vintage 1960's, and I can just imagine it being picked up in a souvenir shop by a Brit summering in Canada, can't you?

The pretty and petite Ontario charm necklace is also 1960's, and it brings me a feeling of pride to wear it! The 1960's, was an era of heightened nationalist passions in Canada. But the Canadian flag as we know it today didn't exist until 1965

These adorable jewellery pieces reflect that era of nationalism and the desire to forge our collective identity.

Check out the entire Canadian Collection on Elle Fulton here.

Elle Fulton also has some cool rings for US states, check out the full range of vintage rings here

The next item I tried on is the geometric etched glass ring.

I love orange, and the geometric pattern of this ring reminds me of a starburst. The lace edge on the setting really enhances the vintage feel. I'll wear this piece with everything from denim to an evening look.

The last piece I tried out I have to admit was my absolute favourite to photograph and wear!

I snapped a pic of this necklace against a vintage movie poster
for "The Happy Thieves", an old  Rita Hayworth film. 
The Citrine Heart Tassel necklace is so pretty. The tassel is perfectly on-trend and it's 1960's vintage, so it's true what they say, everything old is new again! Tassels look gorgeous when worn because they add movement and texture.

The citrine heart is made from vintage glass. This item is also available in emerald, amethyst, milky way, and ruby stones, if those are more to your taste than the pretty warm yellow hue I tried out.

I have been wearing a lot more warm hues lately. Since highschool, I've been a loyal wearer of all things black, and I realized recently that while black is easy for me to wear, it doesn't necessarily make me stand out in a crowd! As I've gotten older I've become more comfortable with wearing eye catching reds, oranges, and pinks.

This necklace is perfect with two of my favourite red items, my red pencil dress and as pictured here, my red wrap blouse. The necklace adds a nice bohemian touch and softens the overall look. It really changes up the appearance of these two items in my closet, when when paired with more modern jewellery look very geometric and urban. Paired with vintage Elle Fulton pieces, they both look more glamourous and retro, an effect I really enjoy!

Elle Fulton's shop also includes vintage-inspired pieces, like these gorgeous cocktail rings. Currently they are offering free shipping on orders over $100 and free gift packaging as well! These make perfect little stocking stuffers for the vintage-lover in your life. There's much more on the site than I've reviewed here, so head over there and browse the collections. There's a lot I'm sure any retro fan will be crazy for. 

Check out Elle Fulton on Facebook, I hear there is much more to be added to the shop soon and this will keep you in the loop!

Thanks to Elle Fulton for sending me this lovely little package, I'm sure to wear these pieces throughout the holiday season!

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