Ingredients & Lore:
Blended with black tea, oolong tea, lavender flowers, natural vanilla flavor, orange peels, natural peach flavor, blue cornflowers, natural bergamot flavor, natural creme flavor, marigold flowers, apricots, apple pieces
Teas: peach, earl grey lavender, vanilla oolong
Steep at 212° for 3 minutes
This tea contains a high level of caffeine.
Sarah, Jareth and the Labyrinth belong to Jim Henson, Artwork by Rebecca Morse
The scent of this tea bursts from the bag, the bite of earl grey, bergamot, and orange balanced out by creamy peach, lavender, apple, and apricot tones; a freshly invigorating and fruity aroma.
I took this cup black, steeped at the recommended 212 degrees Fahrenheit, but for about four minutes. I cannot say if that one minute makes much of a difference; perhaps I should compare sometime? The resultant color of four minutes’ worth of steeping was a smoky brown, and the aroma remarkably reduced. A rich, creamy note I often associate with the addition of blue cornflowers rises to the fore.
The first sips are warm and somewhat heavy in the mouth, most likely thanks to the earl grey component, but do not linger on the tongue. The orange peels really come into play here, leaving a fresh, pleasant aftertaste. Earl grey, which I will often add milk and honey to, pairs very well with the vanilla and cream elements of this blend.
Pro tip: teas with cream blends are almost always enhanced by the addition of milk. I did not try it for this review, but I may update later once I have – let me know if blend follow-ups are something people would be interested in!
A pot of this blend will be sure to comfort on any dreary afternoon. I gave this tea 5 out of 5 stars. You can purchase it here.
I apologize for the late review, dear readers! But as certain someone once said, to paraphrase, a wizard is neither early nor late, but always exactly on time. And so, here is another Thirsty Thursday tea review!
Today’s review focuses on the second bag of tea I purchased at Geeky Teas: Limpë
The description reads, “White peony leaves are fair and glorious to taste and could cure all ills to joy, merriment and creativity.” Cracking open the bag, the scent of dried grass greets me immediately. Any guesses as to what influenced this blend yet? In Quenya, limpë means “drink of the Valar” (and sometimes also wine, but as this is a nonalcoholic beverage, I’ll stick with “drink of the Valar.” Variation includes “drink of the fairies.” In John Tolkien’s Book of Lost Tales, it is said to be very fragrant and possess healing properties. Another story states that one sip could turn a human into an elf, but there was only record of one ever having done so.
The delicacy of the white peony dictates the entire flavor profile of this tea. I steeped a teaspoonful at approximately 180 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 minutes, and the most impressive aspect of this cuppa is how mild it is. I cannot emphasize this point enough. Perhaps it has been made specifically with the sensitive Elvish nature in mind?
After steeping, the grassy aroma virtually disappears. The color of the brew is a very light maple or balsa wood – somewhat difficult to define so here, have a photo:
Although even the photo cannot adequately grasp the fine wood hues with greenish undertones in the cup.
Since this tea calls for a lower brewing temperature, I can actually drink it sooner without scalding my tongue. For such a mild flavor, the tea is strangely comforting, almost otherworldly. It is very pleasant to drink, and there are no strong after tastes or particular flavors that overwhelm the blend. It is quietly fortifying and serene. Such is the nature of a drink of the Valar, I suppose.
I have had a whole cup, but I don’t feel like an elf yet. Boo. However, it is still totally worth a try. I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Today’s (unfortunately) late review features Cara McGee’s Hannibal Lecter blend.
The official description on Adagio reads: “blended with assam melody, pu erh dante, orange peels, rose hips, hibiscus flowers, natural orange flavor
teas: pu erh dante, assam melody, blood orange
accented with cinnamon and cloves
steep at 212° for 3 mins
this tea contains a high level of caffeine
*it does not contain people”
Upon first whiff of the freshly opened bag, the most prevalent aroma is blood orange, a heavy and vaguely citrusy scent. For a blend that features cloves as an ingredient, it surprisingly don’t overwhelm the other components.
I steeped a heaping teaspoon of Hannibal (haha) for about 3 minutes, resulting in a deep ochre color in my cup. The scent of blood orange almost goes away completely, leaving mellow remnants you can barely distinguish; kind of like old-school orange peel, cinnamon, and clove mixes that I simmer in a pot on low heat in the winter to serve as a sort of a natural holiday potpourri. (Truth be told, all the above-mentioned ingredients are generally the leftovers from when I make mulled wine or cider, so…)
At this point, the Assam melody and pu erh dante really take over. The only clue I have that there are cloves in this blend is the slightly spicy aftertaste. It is actually a bit difficult to pick apart all the different flavored of the tea, so subtly do they mix together. However, if you find Assam melody or pu erh dante too strong, this blend may not be for you.
Overall, the Hannibal blend is darkly smooth, rich, and strangely satisfying. I am absolutely bring another cup while I watch tonight’s episode of Hannibal.
I know I’ve been warned about the caffeine content, but so far, so good. Then again, I am a person who drinks a lot of coffee. I may not be the best judge of what a “high level” of caffeine feels like.
I give this blend four out of five stars. You can purchase it here .
*PS this entire review was written on my iPhone and mostly with voice recognition. Hopefully the formatting is OK. Wooo, technology!
So a local favorite store of mine recently shuttered its primary location as a steampunk shop and reopened as Geeky Teas, a tea shoppe and specialty grocer (primarily British goods and snacks), with room for tabletop gaming. Obviously, I went to opening night and picked up a couple of bags of teas (and maybe also some snacks because why not). Geeky Teas’ motto is “Fandom with Flavor,” which is pretty much what I like in a nutshell.
The first tea I picked up was the Groot Root Tea. I loved Guardians of the Galaxy and no, I never once thought about how I am potentially consuming a distant Groot relative… you know, if he were real (OK maybe I did). When you open the paper bag, it smells less of the vegetal earthiness of green tea and more of a bright, vaguely ginger spice and possibly a little ginseng. The aroma is invigorating in a way not unlike scenting fresh eucalyptus in the air.
As Groot Root is a green tea, the recommended brewing temperature is under the 212 Fahrenheit boiling point. Without a thermometer, reaching 180 degrees Fahrenheit can be difficult to accomplish, I ended up boiling a kettle, and then waiting ten minutes, hoping it cooled enough to a appropriate temperature. I am pretty sure you can Google search the average rate of water’s temperature increases/decreases, but my initial search resulted in some confusion, no definite answers, and the realization that apparently a lot of people wonder about this very thing.
Once brewed for about 3 minutes, the gingery notes disappear almost completely, leaving the much more recognizable green tea as the main scent. The color is a faded green chartreuse in the cup, though that may be because my mug is white, and I have heard that white ceramics sometimes make green teas appear yellowish. Though the ginger practically disappears in the aroma, the first sips prove that the signature ginger bite is still there. Each mouthful has a light, refreshing feel.
I suspect now is an opportune time to admit I may be feeling a bit under the weather, and so my olfactory senses may not be as keen as usual. Having said that, this tea seems to be clearing up my sinuses gently, and the warmth is soothing, both in my mouth and going down my esophagus. This may end up as one of my go-to brews when I catch a cold or feel a little ill. Bonus!
There is no real aftertaste, like some heavier teas can leave in the back of the throat. There is just a vague, refreshed sort of feeling, with the faintest echoes of woody green tea and spicy ginger. As the tea cools, the scent of ginger rises, so I really must recommend getting as close to the suggested 180 degrees Fahrenheit for steeping as you possibly can. Green tea is more delicate than black tea, and as such, benefits from a slightly lower temperature in order to make the individual elements of the tea really blossom. The next time I try a cup of Groot Root, I think I’ll try adding a bit of honey. I have the feeling the two will pair well.
I give this tea 5 out of 5 stars. You can get it at Geeky Teas, 707 S Main Street, Burbank, CA 91506
So a bunch of stuff from Sew Geek Austin arrived yesterday (yay) and chief among items was the Demon Hunters Tea Gift Set which I gifted to myself because 1) I love tea, and 2) Supernatural season 10 ended last week so why not. This i going to sound like some kind of paid endorsement of Sew Geek Austin (someone please get me everything, but mostly the House Snark shirt I am dying), but it’s not – I spent a portion of my hard-earned paycheck from the day job to treat myself to Supernatural fan merchandise and to try out one of the tea blends with the idea that I may get samples of the other blends offered if this one was to my liking (it was, so I guess I’ll be buying more tea to review).
First off, the main component of this blend is rooibos, utilizing rooibos cinnamon apple and rooibos vanilla. Expect to get bits everywhere. When you open the cute little tin, the tart sweetness of apple hits the nose first, the lightest hints of vanilla smoothing out the overarching aroma and the caramel providing a bit of depth.
The tea ball is pretty good even though I’ve only used once so far. It wasn’t able to keep all the rooibos inside – I think you need a mesh finer than a cheese cloth to achieve that, but the locking mechanism is good and the counterweight ensured the chain didn’t fall into my cup. Plus this one comes with an anti-possession insignia so my tea is always going to be demon-free. The hinge is where I can see potential issues in the future; it doesn’t always open easily, but with a slight jiggle it presented no problems.
I steeped my cup at the recommended 212 degrees for five minutes. The apple notes really bloom, and the tea smells much sweeter than it does just in the tin. The rooibos really brightens this blend up (as it should, being the primary base ingredient). The tea is smooth and refreshing, with a mellow sweetness and the barest bite of cinnamon. The mouthfeel is substantial without feeling heavy, but possibly the only downside is, after finishing a cup, there is the feeling of maybe needing to brush your teeth either from bits of rooibos or that slightly sugary feel after consuming something sweet (probably from the caramel). Still, I could end up drinking several cups in a row without batting an eye, and you really ought to brush your teeth after eating and/or drinking, anyway.
I give this blend five out of five stars. You can purchase the tea here, or get a set like mine here.
Hello friends! I am so sorry for the lengthy, unexpected tea review hiatus. So, in honor of reviving this practice, I offer the latest new review: the Destiel blend by Cara McGee. (This may be in direct relation to the fact that I just watched the season 10 finale of Supernatural.)
Official Description from Adagio:
ingredients & lore blended with assam melody, black tea, natural spice flavor, cinnamon bark, orange peels, natural caramel flavor, ginger root, cloves, cardamom, cocoa nibs, natural chocolate flavor, natural vanilla flavor teas: oriental spice, assam melody,tiger eye
accented with cinnamon and cocoa nibs
steep at 212° for 3 mins this tea contains a high level of caffeine
Of course this tea has a high level of caffeine – are you aware of this ship?
So. This is a hearty yet smooth tea. The oriental spice and cinnamon provide the initial spicy punch when you first open the bag, and indeed, the scents stay strong even while steeping.
The assam melody brings a bit of earthiness to the aroma, and the cocoa nibs a bit of richly dark sweetness. I steeped a heaping teaspoon of tea for 4 minutes in 212-degree water (as I usually do with black teas). After sitting in my cup for a few minutes, the scents decrease dramatically. the rounded black tea of the assam melody rising to the forefront, the spice light and chocolatey. The first taste (without burning the tongue) is a bit heavy but without the heft of a smokier tea like lapsang souchong, and almost oily in its lingering feel in the back of the throat, with a slightly spiced aftertaste. That cinnamon kick is a welcome, somewhat refreshing leftover.
I’ll need to try a few more cups of this tea, and probably with a little milk, to see if I can’t make the tea just that little bit richer in mouthfeel. Thanks to the spice and cinnamon, this is a tea that you should consume sooner rather than later, although if you store it in an airtight container and away from heat and direct sunlight, it should last quite a while.
In all, I give this blend 3 out of 5 stars. You can purchase it here.
One year ago, GeekGirlWorld featured an interview with Jaimie Cordero of Espionage Cosmetics. This time around, GGW chatted with the always wonderful Jaimie and Emily to talk about the newest Kickstarter: Nailed It! BUT WAIT… THERE’S MOAR!Espionage Cosmetics, despite its amazing growth, continues to be a small woman-owned company “for nerds, by nerds, where nerds are.”
Since the tremendously successful initial campaign last year, the nail wraps have been doing great, both online and at conventions. When asked what some of the bestsellers are, while nebula and tentacles have been consistent top sellers, the comic book wraps are very popular at comic conventions. Sci-fi conventions see upticks in related nail wraps, so audience is clearly a factor. It has been great traveling to such a variety of cons and seeing what people get. Glitter has also proven really popular.
The team has learned a lot from last year’s Kickstarter, and, in true Espionage Cosmetics fashion, really listened to the customers. Jaimie says they have really honed down production, and almost everything stays in country* (because ‘murica!) All joking aside, it is fantastic to support local manufacturing, entrepreneurship, and innovation. Espionage Cosmetics is very excited to be able to create jobs here and turn what started out as a small-scale project staffed by friends into a viable business. Office operations have improved and grown. They have learned what works best, and fastest, both when dealing with production and with customers. Some people like glitter versions, others… not so much. Keeping that in mind, there are more options, and delightfully, more fandoms.
In fact, Espionage has proudly announced the addition of licensed designs and collaborations with comic book authors, artists, and guest designers. Thanks to the overwhelmingly positive response to the initial Kickstarter, Jaimie and Emily say Espionage found that creators, particularly authors and artists, started approaching them about partnering up. Collaborations so far include comic designs from Little Vampires and Rat Queens; authors Clive Barker, Robin Hobb, and Seanan McGuire; and actual scientists like NASA’s Bobak Ferdowski to improve existing designs and develop new ones (what will a molecular biologist concoct? We shall see!)
According to Espionage, the process for creating the designs and getting approval has been a fantastic experience, with open communication and constructive feedback during concept development. Many of the collaborators found it a unique challenge to create definitive art that can fit on a fingernail. In the end, these exclusive designs completely embody the collaborative spirit, and creators can reach their female audiences in a new, innovative way.
True to the title, the BUT WAIT… THERE’S MOAR! campaign has a bevy of new designs, backer levels, swag, and rewards. For round one, there are twelve designs available (you can see them on the Kickstarter page). As stretch goals are reached, more designs will be unlocked, and you gain the ability to select your finish (glitter vs. non-glitter, etc.) on the wraps you choose.
Asked what they like best about the Nailed It! line, Jaimie says that even someone notoriously bad at nail polish can use these, so it is a great way to express a fandom quickly, and there is just a great ability to play around with them. Emily loves the fact that you do not have to sit and wait for ten minutes or more for the nails to dry. Plus, the designs are really rich and intricate, people are often amazed when they see them.
The sooner stretch goals are reached, the sooner everyone can see the new designs in the works. The new rewards include new T-shirt designs, stickers, buttons, humidors (to extend the life of your wraps out of the protective foil package), and themed booster packs. Check out the different backer levels – if you can afford it, you can donate at a level that will get you prototype nails, promo materials, and more.
The funding for this project will kickstart the development of heat-reactive, holographic, and mirror print nails – the second step in the evolution of Espionage Cosmetic’s Nailed It! line. Want to know more? Then this Kickstarter needs to get funded – there are 23 days left!
In October, Espionage Cosmetics will release a line of cosmetics and nail wraps preceding the launch of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. That’s right – Espionage is gearing up for a full make-up collaboration (nails and cosmetics), and the Espionage team is very excited about it.
*Correction: The article originally stated that all production stays domestic, but the production line for the wraps is in another country. Espionage Cosmetics’ everything shadows and lip serums are produced domestically.
Official Description on Adagio:
Edging the line of quirky and dark, this tea is unfailingly sweet, and as strong as you could ask for.
blended with natural vanilla flavor, natural coconut flavor, dried coconut, and accented with apple pieces. Teas: assam melody, vanilla, coconut
The coconut and vanilla mingle seamlessly to tantalize your nose every time you open the bag, the apple pieces offering the barest hint of tart sweetness.
Steeped at 212 degrees Fahrenheit for 3 minutes, the tea is a lovely, light copper out of the pot (of which I’ve to do a hardware review on the personaliTea at a later time). The longer the tea steeps, the deeper the color – you probably don’t want to let it get too past a sort of red ochre for maximum flavor. You’ll hit that around 5-7 minutes of steeping. However, if you end up over-steeping it (which happens when you forget the tea bag in the pot,) the blend doesn’t turn as bitter as some other teas can; it does lose coconut potency, however, and there’s just the beginnings of a bit of astringent tang (most likely from the assam melody) that lodges in the back of the throat.
The blend maintains its coconut fragrance in the cup with the lightest notes of vanilla and assam melody noticeable in the background. For me, the apple pieces offer negligible flavor – the coconut and assam are too strong in comparison. Still, the tea is almost milky in feel and the blend overall manages to be a warming and yet refreshing thing. Even as the tea cools, the blend maintains its creamy, comforting taste.
I give this tea 4 out of 5 stars. You can purchase it here.
Drink to the spirit of Cybermen, to the deletion of emotion, and to the free upgrade to the next level of humankind! This is a deep, warm tea with full-bodied taste and a hint of sweetness.
Teas: assam melody, toasted mate, cream blended with black tea, assam melody, toasted mate, natural creme flavor
This past weekend I attended the Art of the Tardis craft faire at Clockwork Couture. I did not intend to purchase many things, but that went right out the window since there were tons of great handmade and custom items at over a dozen different booths. The Fancy Narwhal was there, with comics, stickers, and a ton of tea samples and full tea bags available. When I first arrived, the booth was terribly packed, so I elected to return later; a decision to my detriment because many of the teas had sold out by the time I went back. Still, I was able to procure a few samples, as well as a bag of Cyberman Spirits.
The initial scent is very earthy, the toasted mate evokes images of woods to mind. Steeped at approximately 195 degrees Fahrenheit for 3 minutes, the tea pours out a dark, rich brown, and the assam melody flavor is at the forefront.
As always, my first cup was completely without additions. For the strong scent of assam melody, a mouthful is surprisingly mellow with only the tiniest bit of astringent reaction. Lightly smoky, I lose almost all trace of the mate – the assam melody is absolutely the star of this blend. The only detection of any hint of cream in this is probably the sheer smoothness of the tea. There is a barely any aftertaste.
My second cup featured a generous helping of cream and a pinch of sugar. If the first cup plain I thought was smooth, this second cup was downright silky. That tiny pinch of astringent is completely nullified with the addition of dairy (seriously, I used cream because I discovered I’d actually run out of milk).
I must caution against oversteeping lest that assam melody and toasted mate develop bitter overtones. I am not entirely certain I would buy this blend again, but I will certainly enjoy the bag that I have for now.
I am officially in love with nearly all the eye shadows I’ve tried from Shiro Cosmetics. However, I am not entirely sure how to feel about the fact that the “Nic Cage Raking Leaves on a Brisk Autumn Morning” is a fantastic everyday eye shadow and my go-to choice when I am unsure what to use. Full disclosure: I am no make-up guru; I think I am generally pretty terrible at stuff like this. I figure, if something works for me, it can work for most people.
Shiro Cosmetics, with its motto of “makeup and geekery,” is a line of mostly vegan, small-batch-crafted cosmetics focusing primarily on eye shadows, lip glosses, and bronzers. Popular culture (mostly films and television programs) inspires all the custom color batches. Obviously, I am kind of a geek (I am a writer for Geek Girl World, after all,) and I enjoy fandom-inspired everything (pretty much) so when I first heard about Shiro I immediately thought, I have to look into that. If I’m buying make-up anyway, why not? And that tends to be my reasoning for a lot of things. I realized the other day that on average, I have no less than two different fandoms on my person at any given time (today features a Supernatural necklace and Sherlock earrings.) I bought a bunch of samples, loved them, and told Ari about them. When Ari asked if I could write some reviews for the makeup, I immediately worried that I would have to post pictures, which, yes I know, make articles more visually interesting. Here’s the thing – I am reluctant to post identifying pictures of myself online (that is a discussion for possibly never). Shoes, nail polish, stuff I like – not a big deal, but a picture of something that clearly shows me? l do not generally post those. There is exactly one picture in my more than 1,000 pictures on Instagram (hush) that shows me completely, and that is because I am standing next to the Mark VII and throwing up ‘gang signs’ (I dearly hope you get this reference). Clearly, I kind of really enjoy my online anonymity. Still, I suppose it cannot last forever, and I rationalized that it would be a good thing to show how this makeup looks on a POC (because I have experienced firsthand the disappointment of seeing a color that I love only to have it not work with my skin tone at all).
As with any online site, there is always the risk of buying something that does not work out since you are unable to try it first in person. Fortunately, Shiro offers sample sizes of their products, so you can purchase a bunch (like I did) and not feel as if you wasted money on something you end up barely using (I will address this in another review with some of the lip colors I bought). What I really appreciate about Shiro’s offerings is that, while you can tell how the colors were inspired, they can be surprisingly subtle, and are wonderfully blendable. Most can easily be worn on a daily basis, casually out and about or to work. Beyond staple shades of brown and grey, there are reds, greens, golds, blues – but we’re not talking heavy like The Hunger Games. The versatility is lovely.
First example: TARDIS. I got a pot of this eye shadow (not lip-safe, unfortunately,) because TARDIS. Do I really need to explain? This is a blue, shimmery eye shadow that can be done very subtly, offering an understated pop of color for casual daily use, but can be easily made vibrant for a night on the town (or a Doctor Who party. Whatever.) Every time I wear something blue, I happily whip this pot out to use, but color-matching is not a requirement (I just like to do it sometimes). And if you like, you can totally do a solid shock à la Jem and the Holograms (confession: Stormer was one of my favorites, and Aja was badass (did I have a thing for blue hair when I was little? Maybe yes. And Lady Gaga should probably just go ahead and completely cop their style because she’s at least 75% of the way there.)
I have a basic make-up routine: moisturizer (at some point before the application of cosmetics,) primer, maybe foundation (sometimes, if I feel like it, or need to hide something in which case it might become concealer + foundation,) a light blush or bronzer, eye make-up. My entire make-up routine, mascara included, takes less than 10 minutes in the morning, which is great, because some days I end up running late. Someone in a hurry can really turn this into an exact science, no joke. Here is what I currently use: Oil of Olay moisturizer, Too-face primer, Too-face eye primer, Shiro brand bronzer, Shiro eye shadow, Sephora black eye shadow as liner, and Revlon lash blast mascara. That’s it, that’s the lineup. There are some really great tutorials on YouTube from fantastically knowledgeable people about makeup and application – just do a quick search and tons of actually helpful videos pop up. I am not that helpful. Or patient. There are many ways to apply eye shadow, so pick what works for you. I have a selection of brushes procured over the years and maintained well through cleaning. If you would like to get new brushes, try e.l.f. brand brushes available at Target; most of them cost $1.00 each (I plan to try out their fake lashes at some point because for a dollar, why not?) This is a good way to experiment with tools without breaking the bank. I am all for cost efficiency.
So. The TARDIS eye shadow is a loose powder. Now, I tend to avoid sparkly…anything…but for Shiro I seem to be making an exception. This is what the powder looks like in the pot.
I usually opt for the outer “V” application of shadow, but for this I went for all over coverage, like so:
To temper the blue a bit, I actually layered it with Nic Cage Raking Leaves on a Brisk Autumn Morning and ended up with something darker and lovely and suitable for work.
Terrible lighting for the photo, I know, but you can sort of see that the TARDIS tumbler and the eye shadow are close, even though I darkened it with Nic Cage. Please note: tumbler is a misnomer. These things cannot tumble – they will simply break. I speak from experience. You may also note that my nail polish matches the tumbler. It is actually from SuperBlack Lacquers, and a review on that brand will be forthcoming.
Another favorite shade:
Again, Shiro is great in that you can sample their numerous shades at very little cost. You have to keep an eye on the site’s FB page, though, since new colors are constantly coming in, being voted on, and phased out.