Brandon's Notepad

December 31, 2014

Death Star Tea Infuser

Filed under: Food & Drink — Brandon @ 4:55 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Short URL:
Home > My Lists > Food & Drink > Tea > Tea Gear > Death Star Tea Infuser

Tea Death Star Infuser - 300x300
That’s no moon…it’s a tea infuser.

I would never have guessed the contents of the box before unwrapping it, but I am so glad someone knows me well enough to give the power of the Death Star in the form of a tea infuser. First of all, I’m a huge Star Wars fan, and as any of my Twitter followers can tell you, I love tea too! This item wins big on both fronts.

The TIE Fighter charm on the end of the chain is really what makes this infuser a success. Without it, the whole thing looks like a simple ball infuser that has suffered a bad dent. And since the infuser itself is submerged in your cup most of the time, it is the TIE Fighter that catches the eye of your coworker in the break room. I would not be surprised if someone were to tell me that the charm is a repurposed player token from a Star Wars themed Monopoly game, because it is about the right size and shiny silver.

But it’s not all about form! This infuser is also very functional. The charm is heavy and the chain is long, so it doesn’t slip into the hot water and there’s no need to clip it around the handle of the cup. The infuser ball is huge to boot! I like brewing strong tea, and a lot of loose-leaf goodness can be packed into this floating death machine. To be honest, I have not compared the capacity to other infusers on the market, but I know it is a lot larger than any of the other infusers in my kitchen drawer.

The only concern I have is durability. The wall of the infuser ball is pretty thin and the hinge may be a little suspect. Time will tell.

You too can harness the power of the Death Star (tea infuser), available at ThinkGeek for approximately $20.

November 23, 2010

Tea 2010

Home > My Lists > Food & Drink > Tea > 2010

The teas I tasted in A.D. 2010 and what I thought about them. Prices are per pound.

Being my first real venture into the world of tea, I just browsed the names on the canisters that lined the tea aisle and chose whatever looked or smelled good. There’s plenty of options! I spent about $1 to $2 on any given selection, and the little zipper plastic bags were full, ensuring that I’d have several good brews of each.

TROT Acerola Cherry Green. [Central Market; $35.49] IMHO, smells much better than it tastes…kind of like potpourri.
Rishi Plum Oolong. [Central Market; $49.99] Would buy it again.
Cuida Te Lemon Nori Oolong. [Central Market; $19.99] Good, but the lemon is a little too subtle for my taste.
Cuida Te Spicy Pu Erh. [Central Market; $19.99] Spicy, but smooth. Maybe this will be a regular purchase.
Davidson’s Bai Hao Oolong. [Central Market; $26.99] This is my first oolong. I’m interested in trying others.
Green tea from Hangzhou, China. [Gift from a friend] “Imperial” cut, whole-leaf. Sweet! Need to find local supplier.

Tea & Coffee

Short URL:
Home > My Lists > Food & Drink > Tea & Coffee

This is my Tea & Coffee landing page. Besides lists of recommended teas, coffees, stores, and coffee shops, you will find links to my old Tea and Coffee Journals as well as to new posts on related topics.

Tea Brands
Cuida Te
Davidson’s Tea
The Republic of Tea (TROT)
Rishi Tea
Moscow Tea Factory (MTF)

Coffee Brands
Buon Giorno Coffee
White Rock Coffee

Where To Buy
Central Market
Sprouts Farmers Market
Whole Foods
World Market

Coffee Shops
(DFW unless noted)
Buon Giorno Coffee
Kindred Coffee Co.
Roots Coffeehouse
White Rock Coffee

My Old Journals
Tea 2010
Tea 2011
Tea 2012
Tea 2013
Tea 2014
Tea 2015
Tea 2016
Coffee 2015
Coffee 2016

Topical Posts
My Super-Cool, Super-Geeky Death Star Tea Infuser (2014)
More to come…

November 2, 2010

Yerba Mate

Back to My Lists

I like coffe and I like tea, but I’ve discovered something just a little different in the health food section of the local grocery store. It’s a tea-like drink called Yerba Mate (‘mah-tay). It’s a product of South America, though it is commonly consumed in Syria and Lebabon as well. There is a traditional ceremony surrounding this drink, and while it is most often made in and drunk from a special vessel (a hollowed gourd) using a filtered metal straw (bombilla/bomba/masassa), it can readily be steeped in a french press or using teabags instead. The mate must first be soaked in cold water to retain its health benefits and then steeped in hot (but not boiling) water. Just so you know, if you like tea then Yerba Mate is not at all gross, though the color may make you think twice about taking that first sip.

General Information

Wikipedia: Yerba maté
Wikipedia: Maté

Health Benefits & Risks

Strong claims are made regarding the health benefits of Yerba Mate. It provides a sense of well-being, aids weight loss, reduces the risk of certain cancers, improves cholesterol levels, yada, yada, yada. Pages of these claims are readily available on manufacturer websites (e.g. Guayaki, Nativa) and elsewhere. If you don’t like the tea, Yerba Mate extract is available at health food stores.

Despite the cancer-prevention claim, there is a concern that Yerba Mate actually increases the risk of some other cancers, particularly cancers of the esophagus, mouth, bladder, lungs, and others; however, most references to this on the Web agree that the serving temperature may be the source of this risk, and not the plant itself. Steeping time (strength of the tea) may also be a factor, and at least one site stated that the smoking process used to dry the leaves is the likely culprit, in which case, my backyard barbeque is probably more lethal than the Mate. Of course, there were the common disclaimers that only heavy drinkers are at risk and that additional research is needed before definite correlations can be drawn. To compare, green tea can apparently also increase cancer risks due to serving temperature and cause kidney and liver damage if consumed in excess.


As mentioned in the synopsis above, this mate is traditionally prepared in a hollowed gourd and sipped through a filtered metal straw. Alternatively, it can be steeped in a french coffee press or using tea bags. It is commonly recommended to saturate the leaves in cold water initially, and then add hot (but never boiling) water.

I use a french press and personally find the sediment in the bottom of my cup to be quite unappealing. To solve this problem, I sift the loose leaf mate in a common kitchen strainer/filter that has a mesh less-fine than the one in the french press. I now steep only the leaves (hoja) and stems (palo) in the french press and save the powder (polvo) for later use in either tea bags or a cup-top coffee maker that uses paper filters.


Confessions of a Reluctant Yerba Mate Drinker [by William I. Lengeman III,]
Yerba Mate, The History of this Dietary Aid


Guayaki [common in USA; retail stores]
Cruz de Malta


There’s been mention of the affordability of Yerba Mate, particularly in the U.S. Just for reference, at the time of this writing (November 2010), a 227g bag of Guayaki costs between $5 and $6 at the local Kroger store, or approximately $22 to $26 per kilo. At the same time, a 500g bag of Cruz de Malta is available online for $4.99 ( to $5.50 (Amazon) or about $10 per kilo. A local Argentine bakery carries a 1kg bag for $4.99. There is no difference between these product and none of these prices include shipping or sales tax. In other words, shop around for the best price, which may not be online.

December 31, 2009

Jujube Fruits

Filed under: Food & Drink — Brandon @ 3:26 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Back to My Lists

At this time this post was made, I had a very active jujube tree on my property. The fruits are wonderful, but I’ve found the upkeep to be a bit more involved than some sites lead one to believe. Supposedly, in my part of the country, bugs are not a problem for this tree. Wrong! Well, maybe they are not a problem for the tree itself, but they love to eat the fruit, as do the birds. Anyway, the reason for this post is two-fold. One is to save information about the fruit so that I can answers the inevitable questions (e.g. Is the fruit safe to eat? Isn’t jujube a candy?), and the other is to store a few recipes.

Botanical Information

California Rare Fruit Growers, Inc.
Aggie Horticulture
Hein Bijlmakers [A few photos included]
Texas Gardener [Good practical advice]


Jujube Cake (
Three recipes: a main dish, jujube cake & jujube butter (
Jujube jam (
More jujube jam/butter (IslandSchool blog)
Even more jujube butter (Texas Highways Magazine)

And though I found out that I’m not a big fan of the tea (yet), here’s a few tea recipes:

Daechucha (Tess’s Japanese Kitchen blog; Wikipedia entry)
Jujube and Longyan Milk Tea (Beijing Haochi blog)

Blog at