Reflections, ramblings and a recipe, to boot!

It’s been so long… I should be making a far more concerted effort to blogging regularly and it’s not been easy trying to get the motivation to write down recipes, at the very least!

My favourite recipes really need to be hanging out, here, where it’s most convenient for me to refer to all the recipes that I turn to, again and again. Over the last couple of years I’ve been making sure to have “hard copies” of all my favourite recipes saved, on my ipad, so that if I am ever faced with the prospect of no longer having this blog, at least I will still have access to all the recipes that I cook the most often. [Side thought: I wonder I should toy with the idea of publishing them in a small personal cookbook like I did for the family sticky rice cookbook I made last(?) Christmas…?]

It’s been a really challenging few months. TheHubbs™ has been dealing with a still (very) unknown recurring health issue that’s been plaguing him since the end of September, and me doing Round #3 of infusions.

The third round of Rituxan/Rituximab infusions (started October 12th, finished the 26th) have left me in the familiar state of: So much tired, so not hungry, so not motivated to cook, so exhausted, and dealing with unpredictable bouts of random nausea & barfiness.

It sucks.

So I pushed myself this afternoon to shut down SALLY and just try to be a normal human being for a couple of hours today. The hard won effort became a surprisingly decent result: an easy dinner that I would be more than happy to recreate again, after tonight.

Backtracking a bit: Last week, The Hubbs™ made the executive decision to restart our grocery delivery service with Spud.ca to go along with our bi-weekly mini Winter CSA pickups with Noble Gardens.

Winter is never an ideal season for me to go out and about, mainly due to the cold temperatures aggravating my breathing & lungs, plus cold & flu season wreaking havoc in public places where I am more likely to catch a bug of my very own, but right now I’m still under TheHubbs’™ imposed post-infusion lockdown until the end of November.

Grocery shopping under these circumstances is not easy for me, and The Hubbs™ would ordinarily be doing them himself; either after work or sometimes he’d brave the grocery mobs on the weekend, but this Unknown Health Issue (a.k.a. “U.H.I.” from this point forward) has absolutely clobbered his energy levels.

U.H.I. has also become a serious quality of life issue which is affecting coping mechanisms, and inadvertently affecting me, too. It’s especially frightening being unable to adequately help care for your own caregiver if you’re physically incapable of functioning like a normal, healthy, human being to begin with.

So we’ve been trying to make do as best we can, but we can only do so much when I’m pretty useless in my current condition and we’ve had to learn to accept the offerings of help from MIL when TheHubbs™ needs extra hands with the chores I can’t complete on my own, getting a few groceries picked up, or whatever. It sucks so much.

*sigh*

So! That takes us back to the dinner I successfully made, tonight: Bacon & Brussel Sprout Spaghetti. Ya, Rly.

I realised that I needed to clear out as much space in the fridge that was being taken up by the previous weeks’ veggies before tomorrow’s grocery delivery from Spud. It’s amazing how much space an awkwardly shaped veggie can take up in the fridge! Noble Gardens gave us brussel sprouts on the stalk a few weeks ago, and it was so large & unwieldy that I had to chop it in half and share it with Mom & Dad!

Thank goodness my parents accepted the brussel sprouts offering because we honestly would not have been able to eat the entire stalk’s-worth of sprouts between only the two of us.

So without further ado, my first recipe posting in absolutely forever so I will have a place to track it back when needed. Super fast, super simple, and super tasty: Five ingredients (most of which I would consider pantry staples), turned into “one pot” meal!

As a side note: With American Thanksgiving coming up this week, I imagine this would make for a really great use of any turkey day leftovers, especially with some actual leftover turkey on the side!


Bacon & Brussel Sprout Spaghetti

1 onion, sliced

3-4 cloves garlic, sliced

4 slices bacon, sliced into lardons (matchsticks)

~500g brussel sprouts, halved then sliced into ribbons

1/2 pkg spaghetti

Olive oil, salt & pepper

Gouda & parmigiano reggiano, grated (optional additions I would highly recommend)

In a large pan big enough to accommodate everything at the end, heat the pan on medium heat and add the bacon to render down its fat and a bit of olive oil.
In a separate pot, boil water and cook your spaghetti.

Once your bacon has rendered its fat but still soft, add the onions and cook till fragrant and translucent.

Add the brussel sprouts and sliced garlic to the onions & bacon, season with salt & pepper. Stir fry everything until the sprouts are softened, making sure to evenly mix through the bacon and onions. Make sure to add  a splash or two of water to help deglaze the bottom of the pan, cover and turn heat to low to finish cooking through.

Once noodles are cooked, drain noodles, reserve a cup of pasta water, then add to the brussel sprouts & bacon.

Turn off heat, combine until noodles are evenly mixed with sprouts. Add cheese, if using, then cover the pan for a couple of minutes to let the cheese melt, then thoroughly mix through the melty cheese as best you can.

Serve generously!

Moving forward with Medical Cannabis

Well this was an unexpected surprise ^_^

  
I didn’t think I was receiving a Tilray welcome package until I actually purchased something! 
As a side note: I wonder if it’s even a possibility that I could try using a vaporizer for medical cannabis/medical marijuana with all my combined auto-immune conditions from SALLY? I know that Health Canada “approves” of the Volcano Vaporizer for MMJ, but does anyone out there in the Intarwebz know if it’s (medically?) safe to vape with crappy lungs? 

I have absolutely no experience with any of this, so I’ve been having long, drawn-out, yet fascinating & informative, conversations with Whitey about all things medical marihuana (how Health Canada chooses to spell marijuana). His recommendation has always been to find some kind of commercially made Medibles (marijuana-infused edibles) like Kiva Confections. This is absolutely how I would prefer to go about slowly learning to medicate. Frustratingly, the only forms of medical marijuana available to us in Canada from LPs are the traditional buds and only most recently: oils.

I could certainly try to make my own tasty treats & concoctions, but trying to figure out the dosing calculations on homemade stuff just sounds like a terrible headache and potential nightmare. Not to mention the fact that TheHubbs™ and I both find the pervasive smell of recreationally used cannabis absolutely revolting (We’re looking at you, Vancouver!) so having that lingering smell in the house while I’m trying to make cannabutter or oils has pretty much been completely taken off the table. 

What I’d REALLY love is a Magical Butter Maker to help limit the smell of cannabis while making the butter/oil, but OMG it’s so expensive to do the US$/CDN$ conversion. *sniffle*

Having said that, if anyone out there would like to send me their products in exchange for having a patient-centred review of your product(s); I’m open-minded & might be keen. There doesn’t seem to be many companies out there interested in understanding what patients with chronic-illnesses or autoimmune diseases think or have to say about their products, from a social media aspect/perspective.

I guess the biggest reason why I keep coming back to the idea to try using a vaporizer (and I am seriously considering it but still waffling on whether or not to actually do so), is because my digestive system is kind of broken and slow as f*ck on a normal day; goodness only knows how long it would take to have the cannabis oils kick in once ingested. Chronic pain is the biggest issue I’m dealing with on a daily basis and I sure as hell don’t wannna be stuck taking an oil which could take up to 4 hours to kick in before the effects are felt for pain relief. Over time, the plan that FamDoc and I would really like to have happen is to entirely eliminate all the opioid pain meds I am currently taking, and hopefully have my GI system functioning a little more “normally”.

Using a Vaporizer (vaping) is supposedly approved by Health Canada, and kind of acceptable for lung patients, but I dunno how keen HawtDoc would be about it — I’d like to think (and am certainly hoping) that he’s open-minded and amenable to the idea, Rheumy too by the way. I’ve been reading a lot of articles recently, pointing to the benefits of MMJ for Scleroderma, and right now: FamDoc & I are hoping that Medical Marijuana will be a beneficial choice not just for the treatment of my chronic pain, but for all my associated conditions, all around. 

 

Onion Gravy Lamb Shanks

 So I was in channel on Wednesday, late night, talking to Esp about a bunch of random food-related things. I don’t remember how it came about, but he mentioned this slow-cooked lamb shanks with onion gravy from this place called Tommy’s Joynt in SF that he really likes and how he was gonna try replicating it for dinner tonight after work.

Since I’ve always been kinda meh about most of the traditional recipes for braised lamb shanks (ie: tomato based Italian-style, Moroccan-style tagines etc) his suggestions sounded really close to how I’ve always wanted my lamb shanks to taste: with more of a roasted lamb flavour versus a stewed flavour.

Well it turns out this “recipe” was exactly what I’ve been searching for in a braised lamb shank recipe. It’s super simple to make, especially in my Instant-pot❤️ (hence the note below regarding the 15minute end pressure cook to finish off) and it’s just perfectly flavoured, which I find crazy.

I had originally intended on making mashed potatoes to go with the gravy but I completely ran out of steam once the lamb got going and decided instead to just boil some noodles and serve it with some (leftover, frozen) braised cabbage. It was seriously awesome.

There’s not much in terms of recipe (will still write up something below for future reference though) since it was literally: sear & remove meat, cook onions & garlic, add back meat, liquids, herbs & spices, cook until done.

If needed (ie: you’re starving to death & in a rush): pressure cook the shanks for ~15-20 minutes at the very end if they’re still not yet falling off and you’ve already cooked them for at least 3hours.

Note on the the noodles: I made the trofie that Baby Bro & his gf brought back as a souvenir from the trip to Italy last summer; these took forever to cook for some reason and way longer than the 15-16 minutes stated on the package. They’re more like dried thinly-rolled dumplings, almost like spaetzle!

Once I had cooked the noodles their alotted package cooktime, I realized that I would rather have them finish cooking in the oniony lamb juices so they would suck up all the flavour.

While they were doing their final cooking in the sauce, I removed the meat off the bones and pulled everything apart into bitesized pieces and put it aside, ready to serve as is.
Once the noodles were cooked & ready to be served, I ended up at the last minute deciding to strain the triofe back into the empty noodle pot, so the sauce could be served separately from the noodles and wouldn’t bloat any of the potential leftovers that might be sitting around. Turned out to be a great idea and the extra sauce on the side meant you could add a spoonful over the meat just to keep it warm and juicy while you’re plating.

I don’t know that I would really change anything after my first time making this; I am really pleased with how the whole thing turned out.
As a sidenote: tonight’s shanks (raw) were probably twice the size of a normal shank & ridiculously huge compared to what I’ve purchased in the past: 

Originally when I was talking to Esp about how many onions to use for the dish, he thought one onion per shank would suffice, but thinking about it for future reference: I don’t think I would change the amount of onions I used tonight; I think I would keep it at 2 (small/medium) onions per normal-sized lamb shank, just because it would make for better onion coverage when slow cooking.

Having said that, if in the future we end up with monster-sized shanks again, I might increase the onions considerably; maybe use 3-4 onions per dino-sized shank, just so you get the proper onion:shank ratio.

Lamb Shanks with Onion Gravy
4 onions, sliced
1 head garlic, peeled

Garlic Olive oil

2 lamb shanks

Beef demi-glace (Better than Bouillon soup stock base)

1L Boiling water

1 sprig Rosemary

2 Bay leaves

Salt, pepper

Mochiko flour, for thickening as slurry

Slice onions and garlic, leave small garlic cloves whole, chop large garlic cloves, set aside.
Heat dutch oven (Instant-pot!) over medium heat with olive oil. Season lamb shanks with s&p, sear all over, then remove from pot & set aside.

Cook all the onions at the bottom of the pot, seasoning with a bit of salt & pepper, until nicely caramelized, then add garlic. Cook a little longer until garlic becomes fragrant then deglaze with a bit of boiling water, just to prevent scorching or burning the onions, especially if you’re using an InstantPot.

Add a spoonful of beef demi to the pot & just enough water to dissolve the demi, maybe about 1 cup, barely covering the onions. Add the sprig of rosemary & 2 bayleaves.
Re-season the shanks with s&p then add back to the pot; making sure to cover shanks as much as possible with the caramelized onions.

Gently pour enough hot water into the pot to come about halfway up the sides of the shanks, but do not pour water over/disturb the onions! Cover and slowcook until meat is fall off the bone tender. At least 3 hours.

Bonus! If you’re using an InstantPot and you’ve cooked the shanks for at least 3hours, but they’re not quite falling completely off the bone yet, if needed: pressure cook the shanks for ~15-20 minutes at the very end if you’re starving to death & desperate to eat ASAP but can’t wait for the sweet spot to happen on its own.

Remove the shanks to a plate and pull the meat off the bones, shredding it into bitesize pieces. Set meat aside somewhere warm while finishing the onion gravy.

Simmer the remaining oniony juices over medium heat and thicken with a mochiko slurry until desired thickness is achieved.

Serve lamb shanks with onion gravy overtop triofe or spaetzle-type noodles and if possible, some braised cabbage. 😏 ❤️

Adagio Tea’s Mrs.Hudson Fandom Blend (review)

 So. Mrs.Hudson…

I have to admit, I’m kind of disappointed. 

On the whole, the blend is perfectly fine as an everyday tea, but if you were hoping for an enjoyable almondy or marzipan-y tasting tea-experience, it’s disappointing that I can’t taste or smell any presence of almond.

Mrs.Hudson: blended with assam melody, black tea, natural almond flavor. Teas: assam melody, almond.

  

It’s a pleasant enough tea to be drinking black, and I find it is very reminiscent of Chinese tea; more of a “regular” or plain tea that you’d expect to be drinking at a Chinese restaurant that isn’t your usual jasmine.

I would be content enough to drink it black, as is, but I also found it was nice with milk.

I was really hoping that adding a bit of sugar would help to bring out the missing almond flavour; but sadly, there wasn’t much difference since I couldn’t smell anything remotely almond flavoured at any point of the brewing process.

In the end, it’s a perfectly drinkable & enjoyable tea, but it didn’t wow me in its current state. Since the tea came to me as a part of the fandom blend, would I go out of my way to purchase Mrs.Hudson as a loose tea? Overall I feel rather “meh” about it, so the answer is: Probably not. 

Just for fun, and curiousity’s sake, I thought it might be an interesting experiment to see what would happen if I added 1-2 drops of almond extract right into my milky tea. 

The logic and my thought process of adding the almond extract was to see how the tea would (or wouldn’t!) improve if I could increase the almond flavour to make it noticeable, but not overwhelming (or screaming-in-your-face). I figured it would be nice to be able to better gauge what the tea was supposed to taste like when it ACTUALLY tasted of almond, like the tea suggests, rather than trying to guess its intentions.

Results of my experiment? Absolutely, positively, amazing. If Mrs.Hudson tasted like what is currently in my cup, I would be immensely pleased about buying this blend on its own; but seeing as how it does need the extra boost, if you happen to purchase the Sherlock Sampler Set yourself, try Mrs.Hudson as you normally would, then try it with the tiniest bit of almond extract. Bliss.

Adagio Tea’s Molly Hooper Fandom Blend (review)

I’ve always wondered: Why do tea companies use an illustration of an anthropomorphic brown bear, living in a log cabin in the woods, as their depiction for chamomile tea?? Mr.Brown Bear, with his eyes closed, is usually seated slightly reclined (or somewhat slumped) in his comfy chair, located next to the fireplace; he is wearing on his head, a nightcap, he also happens to be wearing a nightshirt, and in his lap, rests a teacup which is just barely held onto, with his huge paw.

As a side note, my apologies in advance, I feel like I should preface my review by saying this: I have never been a fan of chamomile teas; and honestly… they’ve always kinda tasted like sour piss, to me. 

I really need to improve upon my vocabulary for these tea reviews ;) The imagery I often associate with chamomile tea only emphasizes how much I dislike the taste of it; the individually wrapped tea bag advertising some kind of “relaxation blend” or “sleepytime tea” with Mr.Sleepy Brown Bear mentioned earlier, totally does not make me feel any better for drinking it.

But once again, I am suitably impressed by how the blend turned out to be an enjoyable surprise, especially after my initial luke warm feelings about the tea I was about drink; I’m looking at you, Sherlock!

To begin my gushings of amazement, check out all the flowery, herby, stuff this blend contains! The size of all the bits’n’pieces in the photo below, completely blows me away; it thoroughly amazes me right now because this is only a sampler tin and I can only imagine what a full 3oz. bag could contain!  
Molly Hooper: blended with chamomile, snowbud, rose hips, hibiscus, apple pieces, natural wild cherry flavor, dried cherries. Teas: chamomile, dewy cherry, snowbud.

Whenever I ask someone why they enjoy drinking chamomile tea, responses tend to be: 

1.)  they want to enjoy a cup later in the evening and not have to be concerned with any caffeine effects which might ordinarily keep them tossing & turning long after they’ve gone to bed if they went with a regular brew. 

2.) it’s also supposed to be a great sleep aid.

3.) Chamomile’s basically become the poster child and the automatic default recommendation for someone looking for caffeine-free herbal tea.

(I’m pretty sure that at some point in the 90’s when caffeine-free herbal teas were all the rage, people seem to have developed a weird soft spot in their hearts & souls for chamomile tea.)

At this point you’re probably wondering: if I am so thoroughly put off by chamomile tea, what does Molly Hooper bring to my table, then? 

Answer: Not sour piss. Thank goodness!

Upon first brewing, the characteristic I first noticed was Molly’s beautiful golden hue. Since there are no actual tea leaves in this blend, I probably ought to be referring to this blend more properly as a tisane*. Molly Hooper is a bit of a surprise when you aren’t expecting anything out of the ordinary; this is a seriously floral blend when you take a quick sniff at it. Floral scents, like smokiness, are not generally characteristics I am looking for in my tea, but like I mentioned above, the amount of stuff in this blend is pretty impressive which gave me second pause for consideration .

*Just a little extra tidbit of information: a tisane is any beverage made from the infusion or decoction of herbs, spices, or other plant material in hot water, and usually does not contain caffeine. These drinks are distinguished from true teas (black, green, white, yellow, oolong, etc., which are prepared from the cured leaves of the tea plant, Camellia sinensis), as well as from decaffeinated tea, in which the caffeine has been removed. In many countries, the word ‘tea’ can only be used for leaves of Camellia sinensis and therefore the phrase ‘herbal tea’ cannot be used. These beverages are therefore labelled infusion or tisane.

When Molly was brewed up to my desired strength, I noticed that it definitely tasted better slightly sweetened, but the important part to note is make sure you don’t add too much sugar. Although I would highly recommend that you consider using honey as your sweetener of choice for Molly, and if you happen to be able to get your hands on some wildflower or other floral honey, that would be even more amazing.

Surprisingly, it also tastes pretty decent when you drink it plain, but I admit that I didn’t try adding any milk at any point. It just didn’t seem to be an appropriate addition for me.

The biggest reason for changing my initial opinion of chamomile tea was because I had a rather unexpected taste-memory flashback. The first few sips of tea after it had been sweetened, instantly brought me back to being a teenager and it’s the middle of winter; Mom is standing in the kitchen, me & my brothers are either still sitting around the kitchen table with Dad, or we’re all hanging out in the family room, after dinner while Mom’s hovering over a large soup pot, stirring chunks of Chinese rock sugar into that huge pot of chrysanthemum tea. 

Be warned, the buds of the chamomile flowers have a tendency to lose a lot of their petals into your infusion as you’re brewing. If you don’t have some kind of fine mesh filter for your tea/tisane brewing, you will soon discover a whole heckuva lot of teeny tiny little petals possibly floating about inside your teacup when you’re ready to drink. 
When I make teas that have an excessive amount of floaty bits, I prefer to use a french press solely dedicated for brewing tea; no matter what kind of tea or tisane I happen to be making, the plunger & metal screen seems to have solved the problem of filtering out the excessive amounts of bits & pieces in my cup. As a bonus, using a french press allows me to roughly gauge the brew strength of my teas just by a quick glance, which is helpful if I’ve forgotten to set a timer. Plus if I have a blooming tea, I can watch the flowers unfurl! 

I still can’t believe how much the Molly Hooper blend tastes like the chrysanthemum tea Mom used to make for us after dinner in the winter. I still don’t really much care for chrysanthemum tea, but as I get older, I realize that I actually enjoyed drinking it when Mom accidentally dropped “too much sugar” into the pot. 

Adding enough sugar, preferably in the form of honey, is probably why I am feeling a little more enthusiastic about drinking the Molly Hooper blend.

P.S.: If you are ever considering your tea options for iced tea; I finished yesterday’s pot of Molly, this morning with breakfast, cold. Just to see how it would taste as an ‘iced tea’ and it was actually quite nice as a cold alternative. I would even consider recommending it solely for drinking as an iced tea.

BTW… 

The 8bit Vogmask also arrived the other day! It finally came back in stock and I snagged it just in time! Now I am almost ready to begin Round #2 of Rituxan… Just need to finish restocking the deep freeze with lots of homemade ready meals again!

 Looks like today will be a bulk soup & cheesy-herby biscuits making day ^_^ 

Adagio Tea’s Watson Fandom Blend (review)

Holy cow!
I’m totally drinking Watson, black!
If you like drinking your teas black, the Watson blend is a really nice cup of tea to drink on its own without any extra adornments. 
John Watson: blended with assam melody tea, ceylon sonata tea, green tea, black tea, cinnamon bark, natural cinnamon flavour, orange peels, natural bergamot flavour, blue cornflowers. Teas: irish breakfast, cinnamon, earl grey green.

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 I’m not usually a black tea drinker. Unless it comes in the form of traditional Chinese tea or Japanese green tea; I will always add milk at the very least because that’s the way I grew up drinking Red Rose tea that my parents made as their daily brew.
Watson smells nice and cinnamon-y which totally brings me back and reminds me of when I was first introduced to herbal teas in junior high.
It used to be that I had to ditch my French class for a one-on-one tutoring session and the teacher’s aid I was assigned to, used to offer me the option of having a cup of herbal tea while she was teaching me and I was studying. The first time I was ever offered a herbal tea, a few startling realizations came into being:
1) This was definitely not Chinese tea.
2) There were so many flavours!
3) Each flavour of tea was wrapped individually in its own little packet.
4) Adding sugar(!) to my tea was a practice that others were encouraged to partake in & didn’t find abhorrent!
Needless to say, my undeveloped & inexperienced junior high tea-drinking years were an enlightening and eye-opening experience that certainly made the whole period of time, together with the teacher’s aid, more pleasant for learning and less of an ‘I am being punished’ struggle.
But back to Watson…
On the whole, Watson actually reminds me a lot of how Red Rose’s Orange Pekoe tastes; a pleasant blend that’s not overwhelming, not at all overpowering, and is certainly an enjoyable tea, as is. Watson also happens to be enjoyable with milk, and if you like to add sugar, it’s also lovely if you’re into that sort of thing.
Basically, what I think I’m trying to say is: If you’re looking for a well-rounded blend that is lovely in all manners of tea-drinking; black, with or without milk, with or without sugar, then Watson’s your guy… Errr, blend.

Adagio Tea’s The Tardis Fandom Blend (review)

Oh. Wow.

Just smelling the contents of the bag… It totally smells like Maynard’s Wine Gums (the blackberry flavour, mind you!) with just a hint of the citrus/bergamot from the Earl grey!
The Tardis: blended with black tea, orange peels, natural bergamot flavour, blue cornflowers, natural blackberry flavour, natural vanilla flavour, blackberry leaves. Teas: earl grey bravo, blackberry, vanilla.
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I opened up the Tardis Blend this morning and it smells amazing! I am absolutely a lover of Earl Grey tea, and this blend is quite a bit different than your traditional earl grey cuppa — but certainly not in a bad way!

When I took a big deep whiff, the Tardis’ scent automatically transported me to that time and place in my life where everything just felt right; it’s the kind of tea that brings out feelings of happiness and excitement.

The Tardis blend is probably one of the sweetest smelling blends I’ve ever come across, straight out of the bag. If you’re the type of person that likes to enjoy a nice “dessert tea”, in place of actually eating dessert, then the Tardis blend is definitely the tea I would recommend to fit that bill.

I think this blend is probably one of the best tasting teas that absolutely benefits from, if not requires, the addition of milk to enhance the vanilla’s smoothness, and just a bit of sugar to bring out that sweetness-of-dessert flavour that the blackberries give to the tea’s forefront, and really I love how you get that little bit of bergamot & citrus at the very end of your sip so that it’s not just a purely saccharine flavour in your teacup.

The idea of ‘bright blue skies, fluffy white clouds, and everything sparkles just a little bit around the edges‘ is totally how I would describe life’s possibilities during my early to mid-twenties when TheHubbs™ and I were just dating and we were both relatively young; when we were still getting to know each other’s ins & outs, and those fluttery feelings of excitement that made us grin ridiculous ear-to-ear grins that we thought were totally private & unseen by others, everytime we heard the other person’s voice, or saw them out of the corner of the eye… That is how I feel when I sit & drink the Tardis Blend.

Adagio Tea’s Sherlock Fandom Blend (updated review)

Note: This is a reprint of My thoughts on Sherlock, the tea with a few extra thoughts added.

My thoughts on Sherlock…

Honestly, when you first smell the tea: My God, it’s smoky as fuck.
It’s a bit of a bummer that Sherlock’s the most overwhelming fragrance when you open the fandom sampler box; but I am hoping  that if I keep Sherl separated from the rest of the teas, they will all come back to their own.
 Sherlock: blended with assam melody, lapsang souchong, black tea, natural spice flavour, cinnamon bark, orange peels, ginger root, cloves, cardamom. Teas: lapsang souchong, assam melody, oriental spice.

img_5228-4
 When I was discussing the characteristics of Sherlock with a friend; she noted,“I have to admit that smoky isn’t a descriptor I am attracted to in my tea.” — and neither am I.
If you’ve never smelled lapsang souchong, it’s really shocking at first. It totally reminds me of campfire, and it’s almost too smoky at first — reminds me more like the acridness that comes of forest fire smoke. I find it a turn off to be honest…. Why would I want to drink campfire??
…But the thing is, once you get past the smoky and the tea gets brewed to the proper strength, when you finally get to drinking Sherlock you only get a nice sense of subtle smoke flavour; again, more like that feeling I mentioned of a cozy campfire. With the addition of milk and a touch of sugar (highly recommended, by the way), there’s a really nice smoothness that balances everything out.
As to the other flavours of Sherlock, I could only just barely taste the orange peel and the spices; but that might possibly be due to the fact that I tend to use less tea leaves than most people recommend when brewing a pot of tea, so I found that the orange peel & spices were both only subtle at best.
To be honest, I don’t know how I would feel if the spices were more prominent & noticeable; but I have a feeling it would taste too much like a chai at that point versus a really intriguing cup of smoky tea that totally brings to mind memories of old, stuffy, Chinese junk shops or the house of elderly relatives…
Be warned: the smoky becomes a lot more prominent & noticeable when your cup of tea gets cold!