Saturday, August 30, 2014

ZestTea Tastings

Moon-shake!! received a really nice box of samples from James at new Philadelphia-based tea company ZestTea. Boasting of triple the caffeine of normal tea, and with as much caffeine as coffee, this is clearly a new (high-energy!) marketing idea for the world's most consumed beverage.

I sampled the EARL GREY BLACK first, and upon infusing the whole-leaf pyramid tea bag into boiling water, I got a strong, rich English bergamot aroma. Touting 155 mg of caffeine per cup, this English breakfast tea (on steroids) tastes faithfully like it's classic tea counterpart. It's rich and full-bodied -- certainly not the lightweight "tea grounds" that are oftentimes the norm. The bergamot and fruity citrus notes impart a light bitterness that becomes more prominent when iced. Overall, this is a delicious and enjoyable beverage.

Next, I tried the BLUE LADY BLACK - a mix of Nilgiri Indian black tea, cornflower petals, hibiscus, orange, lemon, and passion fruit. Quite an impressive mix already! And immediately upon steeping, the fruity aromas come right out. Passionfruit presents itself foremost, with a hint of bitterness creeping in, before a citrus zing rounds out the palate. Really, this is a delicious fruit-infused tea, and one with undetectably mega-high amounts of caffeine.

Blending young Hysop green tea, pomegranate, mint, and lemon, the POMEGRANATE MOJITO GREEN steeps with a lush, fruity aroma. Hints of berry and pomegranate seem most up-front, rather the typical grassiness of average green tea. Tasting, I get a really great combination of the mint, lemon, and pomegranate. Again, this is a unique and palate-pleasing blend, even not considering the unusually high caffeine content. 

Finally, I tried the APPLE CINNAMON BLACK blend, and upon steeping this one, I got a mouthwatering amount of sharp, warm cinnamon. Taste is subtle, with more cinnamon than apple. Again, this is a very delicious tea blend. I wouldn't expect sweet apple fans to flock to this one, but the warming, spicy cinnamon content seems perfect for a cold Winter's morning. 

In short, Moon-shake!! really enjoyed ZestTea, with every flavor style being unique and quite a tasty treat. As for the energizing caffeine content, I can report a subtle and balanced jolt of energy upon enjoying a cup. Highly recommended as an alternative to those nasty sugary energy drinks or for those who can't stomach coffee.

For more info on ZestTea and ordering:

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Cinnamon Bun Popcorn (by Capital Corn & Confections)


We received Capital Corn & Confections' delightful Cinnamon Bun popcorn as a nice promotional surprise this August. Housed in a 6.7 oz. clear plastic container, this gourmet popcorn was hastily opened to reveal a fluffy and sweet popcorn with a cinnamon-sugary glaze that did taste just as a good, warm cinnamon roll would.

I was particularly impressed with how the popcorn remained crispy and fresh-tasting, despite being coated with plenty of confectioners glaze, which would seemingly make the kernels go limp and soggy. Kudos to Capital Corn for making a sweet (and relatively healthy) treat that parents would feel more comfortable giving the kids. As one caveat, I'm not sure how natural or processed the sweet cinnamon glaze is, as there were no details on content or ingredients, unfortunately, so I have to hope that it's a wholesome and home-made mix.

Being as how it seems Capital Corn is a very small (and mostly local New Jersey, thus far) startup, it's refreshing to see them branching out, sending popcorn to faraway Indiana. With a little more word-of-mouth, I can easily see them making inroads with independent grocers, especially if they can verify or promote the natural ingredients contained within their delicious popcorn treats. From the website, I see they craft some other exotic (and undoubtably tasty) popcorn varieties. They do offer mail-order from their website, so give them a click and see for yourself!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Tropical Traditions - Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is on the rise as an ultra-healthy alternative to man-made chemical moisturizers and more environmentally-damaging/less healthy cooking oils. The benefits of using pure coconut oil are immense, and even a look at many natural products reveals coconut oil as a major ingredient. Suffice to say, it's hard to go wrong with the stuff, especially if it's organic, fair-trade, and non-GMO.

Moon-Shake!! was provided the opportunity to sample Tropical Traditions' superb, ultra-high-end Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil, imported from the Philippines. Now, many coconut oils aren't necessarily organic, and the extraction process can leave out many of the oil's natural antioxidants. Tropical Traditions' Gold Label is their highest standard for coconut oil, hand-made and pressed to exacting standards. The result? A delicious, fully-edible alternative to other mainstream cooking oils (corn, sunflower, canola). It can also be used as a tasty and super-healthy alternative to butter (try it on toast), or as a skin moisturizer that doesn't leave the skin greasy, just baby-soft, with none of the harmful chemicals present in many "body" and "hand" lotions. And it's produced with no GMOs (genetically-modified organisms). Score more points there.

But enough of the sales pitch. This blog isn't about selling you anything, and we certainly aren't making anything from telling all this! We are unbiased, of course, and aren't easily swayed. Moon-Shake!! (and Mrs. Moon-Shake!!) tried Tropical Traditions Gold Label for a variety of household uses, and here we publish our results. 

Tasting the coconut oil raw, by the spoonful was first. It had a very light, pleasant, melt-in-your-mouth flavor. Coconut notes were present, but subtly, and not what you'd expect. The consistency turns to liquid over about 76 degrees, and it's a cream-white waxy solid below that. But either way, it's more than delicious, and packed with healthy benefits.

Next, we tried it as a frying oil. I made some Alaskan cod filets, and fried them in Tropical Traditions Gold Label. Worked well. I've had worse fish in restaurants, to be sure. No problems there. Also, we fried up some crab rangoon (yum!) in the coconut oil, and did a small batch in a separate skillet with regular imported Italian sunflower oil. Comparatively, the coconut oil had less spatter, and a lighter, less oily or greasy texture than the batch made in sunflower oil. And it (the coconut oil batch) seemed cleaner, and added a light touch of coconut flavor! Win win.

Mrs. Moon-Shake!! then tried it in place of olive oil in baking some home-cut sweet potato cubes. The sweet potatoes ended up crispy, sweet, and not at all oily. Additionally, when pressed on her thoughts, she said "A little goes a long way". She possesses much wisdom, methinks!

Tried it as a coffee creamer, making the gourmet medium-roast coffee less acidic. The coconut oil didn't blend too well, but on the upside, the residue from drinking it kept our lips moisturized!

As a body lotion/moisturizer, the coconut oil made our skin oily just for a short time, but it seemed to evaporate or absorb reasonably fast. I even tried it as a hair/head wash for a day, expecting to have an oily, itchy head, but alas -- was perfectly fine on my short-cropped hair. The Mrs. used it on the ends of her (long) hair, and she reports it worked fine, with no residue or greasiness. Use on dry feet and elbows also proved to be fruitful, with, again, no greasy residue and genuinely softer skin.

To sum it all up, we really enjoyed our time with Tropical Traditons Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil. It's useful in the kitchen and for personal care, and it's safe to say we'll be purchasing more in the future. Give it a try yourself. Meantime, here's a link to their site.

Tropical Traditions site

Virgin Coconut Oil info

Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.

Since the FDA does not want us to discuss the health benefits of coconut oil on a page where it is being sold or given away, here is the best website to read about the health benefits of coconut oil:

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Beer: Sierra Nevada Estate Homegrown Ale


A 6.7%ABV IPA, Sierra Nevada's Estate was a limited brewing that was revolutionary in that it utilized only ingredients (mostly organic, too) grown on Sierra Nevada's estate locally in Chico. My beer ratings are from 1 (awful) to 5 (awesome). A 4.25 is rare and exceptional, so check out this beer if you can find it!

Clean light amber in color, with a big, thick head of off-white foam. Gorgeous lace. Nose is moist, floral, pine hoppiness. A superb start! Taste is sharp and bold, with spicy and peppery hops and a thick malt presence underlying it, and residing at the finish. 

Very delicious, and a treat for IPA fans. Here's to hoping there's another harvest next year!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Kodiak Cakes - Bear Country Cookies - Oatmeal Dark Chocolate

With an amazing image of an angry bear on the natural fiber textured cardboard box, and touting "all natural", I couldn't pass up this pre-mixed package of cookies. All I needed to add was 1 egg and a stick of butter. Easy enough, right? After all, I am but a single guy on a shoestring budget.
Baker Mills' Kodiak Cakes label promises ingredients that are all-natural, with no preservatives, no trans fats, blah blah blah. Recipes like the hardy homesteaders on the American frontier would've made. Real sugar, brown sugar, whole wheat flour, whole oats, etc. Nice. So, I picked up these cookies, took them home, and baked some up. Simple as can be. And how delicious! Gave samples to several friends, and everyone was enthusiastic. So, wholesome, natural, and tasty as hell? Winner!
I also tried their brownies (perfectly good, too, especially when adding some walnuts to the mix), and the pancake mix (the flagship product, also a fine whole-wheat mix, and a filling meal themselves). Highly recommended. As close to homemade as you could get, without making them from "scratch".
I just wish Kodiak Cakes were more widely available! Surely Whole Foods or local groceries would do well with these wonderful treats.
Now, I see they have their own syrups available. I wish I could find those!

Anyhow, for more info, check their site:

hKodiak Cakes website

Saturday, April 9, 2011

"Bag It" (director: Suzan Beraza)

This smart and enlightening, yet thoroughly engaging and entertaining documentary began as a study on the effects of all the disposable plastic bags we have used for years. Think about it. Every time you went to buy groceries, you got a stash of throwaway plastic bags. Sure, if you're like me, you "recycle" them as cat litter bags, trash can liners, etc. But do we really ever question where these bags go? The director has a valid point. We throw them away, but where, exactly, is "away"? There is no such thing.

We have created a vast sea of floating plastic garbage, ensnaring and stifling sea life for miles and miles, and in several spots around the world. But does that affect any of us, who live in the mainland? Out of sight, out of mind, right?

Director Beraza enlists the affable "everyman" Jeb Barrier to narrate and host this film, and it's a real winner. But before you turn away shouting "guilt trip from the environmental tree-hugging extremists", this one is optimistic and hopeful, and certainly "must-see" viewing for anyone looking to educate themselves on the world and our unnecessary impact upon her.

Diverging from the simple plastic bag, "Bag It" also looks at plastics at large. Cheap, useful, and, in modern times, an essential part of our survival, this chemical-based building material has been a blessing and a curse on our culture. But as stated earlier, the likeable host here, Barrier (and his wife) provide enough comic relief and humility to make what could be heavy-handed easy-to-digest and to show that we have the ability, knowledge, and technology to make things so much better for our children. Do yourself (and your friends and family) a favor and see this!

"Bag It" is set for National Public Television screenings beginning this month, too, so check your local listings or search your DVR...

To purchase DVD/merch

To find the nearest public screening

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"The Cove" trailer (director: Louie Psihoyos)

This film looks to be a harrowing and important document, and I have my friend Aaron to thank for passing on the link.
Check the trailer and sign the petition.