White Hot (chocolate)

It is a legend of my office that at one time, we had a 12 cup coffee maker that rebrewed regular throughout the day.  There are various stories of people not making a fresh pot, people not cleaning and letting the coffee mold, and people generally being rude and somewhat inhuman to each other.   I’m glad I don’t have to deal with that.  However, the current solution of Keurig one-cup brews, or K-cups, is not an elegant one.  The coffee inside each package is pre-ground and generally stale, despite a ‘freshness’ seal.  Most of the flavors are either too strong or too weak (where’s my medium roast?!?).  Finally, the K-cups brew what seems to be 7 oz., an amount that is perfectly the wrong size for one or two brews in my 12 oz. mug.  I need like one and a half brews of K-cup.

But there is one thing I’ve discovered that not even K-cups can foul up – white hot chocolate.  Liquid warmth beyond the understanding of mortal man, it comes out a little foamy, reminiscent of marshmallows and downy pillows.  It’s like a hot cloud of wonderment.

McDonald’s may have its persuasive hooks in the world with copious amounts of salt, fat, sugar, and other horribly bad things, but Keurig will now always have a deeper hook in my heart.

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Organic Bankok? Not so much.

I have recently gotten a kick out of Harney & Sons products, which are being sold at my local Au Bon Pain.  The products sold are all organic, meaning the tea, the sugar and honey sweeteners, and the flavorings are all organic.  I think that’s cool and diligent, and I appreciate it.  But I appreciate the taste even more, which is sweet but not too sweet, and allows the natural flavors of the tea to come through.

Let’s discuss tea a little bit first, and the way it works.  Tea is a type of plant whose leaves, when dried, can be used to prepare a flavorful beverage by steeping the leaves in hot water.  The key here is hot water – it has to be very hot, just on the verge of boiling, to get the most flavor out of the leaves.  In addition, if you keep the leaves in the water as it cools (especially with green teas), the tea will turn bitter.  To a certain extent, this happens with all teas as they cool, whether the leaves remain or not.  That’s why Southerners know the only kind of iced tea that’s drinkable is sweet tea – the sugar covers that bitter taste.  That’s why fruit teas include at least a hint of lemon – the acid cuts the bitterness of the cold tea.  And that’s why Harney flavors its bottled organic teas – almost every one has some sweetener in it, along with a flavor to cover the bitter aspect of the tea itself but retain its less potent flavors.

Now, Harney does all kinds of teas (loose-leaf, sachets, iced, black, green, flavored, white, organic, iced, and bottled), and guessing from the ones I’ve tasted, they’re all good, high-quality teas.  Unfortunately, the Organic Bankok leaves something to be desired.

The website describes it thus:

Organic Bangkok: An aromatic blend of Organic green teas with Organic honey, Organic lemongrass, Organic ginger and sweet Organic coconut. A fragrant blend reminiscent of Thai cooking.

Unfortunately, there’s not nearly enough lemongrass or ginger in it to counteract the taste of the tea.  So I get bitters and then a faint aftertaste of coconut.  Instead, I would recommend the Organic Peach or the plain Organic Green.