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Happy Pumpkin Tea from October’s Amoda Tea Monthly Box

SororiTEA Sisters - 2 hours 16 min ago

It’s that time of year again: pumpkin season! I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a sucker for all things pumpkin spice, so it’s no surprise that I’m drinking pumpkin tea. But with all the ridiculous pumpkinacolpyse products that come out this time of year, let’s see how Happy Pumpkin Tea from Amoda teas holds up. For one, this tea has actual pumpkin as a main ingredient. You can actually see orange pumpkin pieces in the Read More

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Floating Leaves Tea - Da Yu Ling, a Taiwanese Oolong

Notes on Tea - 3 hours 54 min ago

I'm going to tell you what the Floating Leaves Tea Da Yu Ling oolong tastes like in the sixth sentence of this review. I enjoyed this tea but I couldn't pinpoint exactly its essence. I had not completed my session but decided I would take a break and run a few errands. One of my errands allowed me to flip through magazines one of which had an interview with Giada de Laurentiis. In the article Giada mentioned cooking farro risotto with cherries. And just like that, I knew that Da Yu Ling is like a risotto flavored with cherries. The oolong doesn't literally taste like risotto but drinking it is similar to eating a creamy risotto. I have never eaten cherries with my risotto but I can imagine it and I think this comparison is pretty accurate. Even if this assessment is merely figurative, Da Yu Ling would pair well with a risotto.

I followed the steeping directions provided my Floating Leaves Tea: 7 grams in 120 mL of (195F) water with infusions times of 25s, 20s, 17s, 20s, and 35s. The dry leaves of the Da Yu Ling smelled similar to the other high mountain oolongs I've been drinking from Floating Leaves but it was sweeter smelling. The rolled leaves were bigger with visible stems.

The first infusion was pale colored with rich, green smelling leaves and a light creamy liquor which reminded me of the sweetness of a gyokuro. (Yes!) There was a hint of flint in the end note. The second infusion was buttery with a detectable fruit note of fresh cherry to maybe strawberry jam. The liquor from the third infusion was noticeably more robust. It smelled floral, buttery and like green leafy vegetables. It had a smooth, buttery texture with an fruit end note. The front note reminded me of a hot breakfast of oatmeal topped with brown sugar. This tea has so many facets. The fourth infusion made me think of a tieguanyin's floral and vegetal characteristics but these greens were buttered and the liquor lingered with a cherry/blackberry flavor. The final infusion was one dimensional in contrast to the previous steeps. Poured out of the pot it released floral notes, drunk from the cup it tasted like butter, and finished with a cherry stone aftertaste.

Da Yu Ling is a high mountain tea or gao shan cha. Dayuling is part of the Yu Shan (Jade Mountain) range, and the tea gardens there are "among the highest in the world, at an approximate altitude of 8,500 feet (2,600 m)" according to Kevin Gascoyne et al. (2016). In response to the environmental conditions present at high altitudes, teas produced from these regions have deeper and more complex flavors. I'd say this is true of this Da Yu Ling from Floating Leaves Tea. I look forward to drinking more of this tea and using different steeping parameters.

I purchased this and other oolongs in the Taiwan High Mountain Oolong Sampler from Floating Leaves TeaCurious about teas in the sampler? Here is my review of the 2016 Spring Ali Shan.

Crimson the Dragon -A Great Book/Tea Duo

SororiTEA Sisters - 5 hours 17 min ago

Today I thought I’d chat about a different product that I just love. Combining a book and tea duo in one package! What’s even better is this is a children’s book and herbal tea duo, lending me the chance to share this experience with my kids! Let’s start with the book-Crimson and the Battle of the Lonely Mountain.   I don’t want to give too much away but this book is perfect for any child Read More

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Frightful Nights by Woodie Barnes-McWhirter-An Adagio Signature Blend

SororiTEA Sisters - 8 hours 16 min ago

This tea smelled so good that from the moment it arrived I was wracking my brain trying to figure out what delectable dessert it was reminding me of. The best I could come up with was apple cobbler. Then caramel came through. Apple Cobbler with caramel sauce is anything but frightful, but my daughter agreed with the name saying that this tea has captured the Halloween season for her in its aroma. Steeped – wow, it smells so good! Read More

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How to Learn More about Tea

Tea For Me Please - 9 hours 17 min ago

One of the things I get written to about the most is the question of how to learn more about tea. When you're first starting out the world of tea can be wonderfully overwhelming. There is so much information out there, some of it conflicting, that it's hard to separate fact from fiction. Here are some tips that I've learned along the way.

Read Everything You Can
Read anything and everything about tea that you can get your hands on. Particularly for those in the western hemisphere, books are one of the few easily accessible resources. These are some of the ones that I recommend the most often:

The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura
The Classic of Tea by Lu Yu
Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties by Kevin Gascoyne, Francois Marchand, and Jasmin Desharnais
Puer Tea: Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic by Jinghong Zhang
Modern Tea by Lisa Boalt Richardson
Free Kindle Books for Tea Lovers
The Tea Book by Linda Gaylard
The Art and Craft of Tea by Joseph Wesley Uhl

Drink Everything You Can
Nothing teaches you about tea more than drinking it! The first piece of advice I give anybody looking to get into tea is to drink everything that they can. Whether it's a super high-quality 1st flush Darjeeling or terrible puerh from your local Asian market, every tea has a lesson to teach. Knowing what bad tea tastes like helps you understand what it is that makes the good ones so good. It can also be helpful to do comparison tastings focusing on specific types or regions. As a lifelong picky eater, this was something I struggled with at first. Don't let preconceptions keep you from trying something new! Tea isn't nearly as scary as you might think. :)
Connect and Share with Others
One of the best ways to learn about any subject is to connect with others who are just passionate as you are. For tea drinkers, this can be a bit difficult as we're sometimes a bit geographically isolated. Lucky for us there is the interwebs! Social media can be a great place to find people who are talking about tea. Comparing notes and sharing information is one of the most effective ways of progressing on your journey. Instagram is one of my favorite places for this because it is so visual. You don't even have to speak the same language to connect with other tea lovers!
Know that You Can't Know Everything, and That's OK
I've been pursuing tea as a passion for nearly a decade. That might seem like a long time but there is not a day that goes by without learning something new. Anyone who tells you that they've learned everything they need to know about tea is someone that you should immediately stop listening to. Getting into tea is a bit like the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland. It just keeps getting deeper and deeper. In many ways, I think that's why I haven't lost interest over the years. Drinking tea is not a competitive sport. Explore what interests you and never stop learning!
Use Multiple Sources
No matter how much you trust where you got your information, I always recommend verifying everything with multiple sources. There is a ton of misinformation out there. Much of it has been repeated so many times over the years (centuries in some cases) that it gets accepted as fact, even when there is little evidence to support it. I'm reminded of playing a game called telephone as a Girl Scout. One person would make up a sentence which would then be passed around the circle in giggly whispers. By the time the message got to the last person, it bore no resemblance to its original form. Tea is a global game of telephone so it's best to get as close to the sentence starter as possible.

I asked the tea community on Twitter what their answer was to this question. These are some of my favorite responses.
@teaformeplease Spend time buying tea in person from friendly people who know their business!— Roan Clay (@RoanClay1) October 22, 2016 @teaformeplease Be open minded, adventurous and passionate about discovering and tasting new types of loose leaf teas.— ManwithaMug (@ManwithaMug) October 22, 2016 @teaformeplease Much like wine, have fun exploring. The fun is in the adventures of finding what you like and understanding its history.— ThatOneNerdRon (@raspiras8) October 22, 2016 @teaformeplease I see Chinese/ and Western "Assamica" teas as different tracks. Tea clubs and blogs are a great way to explore Chinese teas.— Kris Zentner (@kriszentner) October 22, 2016 @teaformeplease Explore! Try as many as possible in various places. You'll learn differences in quality etc. Reading your blog helps, too :)— Mario (@MarioTravels) October 22, 2016 @teaformeplease Usually, I say to try less things. Find a type of tea (black, green, etc) and find the best stuff in that bracket.— ▲ (@samgdf) October 22, 2016 Readers, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you agree with my points? Is there something that I missed? Let me know in the comments!

Chocolate Marshmallow Spicier Chai from 52Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - 14 hours 16 min ago

I was super excited to see a spicier Chai! I love Chai, and I love spice too. This chai is different in that there is no anise, but there is crushed red pepper! It also has vegan white chocolate chips, and vegan dark chocolate! It’s a beautiful tea just to look at really. I enjoyed a cup of this Chai this morning with a touch of coconut sugar, and a little coconut milk. Wow, I Read More

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Chocolate Cherry Latte Oolong from A Quarter To Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Sun, 10/23/2016 - 23:00

I must confess: when I first received this, my heart broke into itty-bitty pieces. Oh no! Cherry! AAAAAH! I usually hate cherry. It tends to remind me of cough medicine. What if I hated it? How would I show my face at Tea Club? How could they have sent me my Kryptonite? Fortunately, yay, this tea uses ACTUAL cherries. It’s not that sugar-chemical stuff. It’s the real deal. That — plus the yumminess of the Read More

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Vintage Puer 2010 Rice Scented Toucha

The Tea Horse Road - Sun, 10/23/2016 - 22:06
Each Puer ball weighs between 4-5 grams.
It brews a rich red liquor, smooth flavor and aromatic.
The rice is scented with with Pandan leaves (screwpine leaves - Panadanus amaryillfolius).
If you are familiar with Thai desserts and desserts from the Malay Archipelago islands, most of them are flavored and scented with this herb. 
Highly intoxicating and calming.
The tea leaves are loose leaves of premium quality and  compacted to make these individual balls of tea. 
In the puer classification this is a ripe/fermented - indicating aged tea, hence the seller (PuerhShop) calls it a Vintage tea 2010.


We brewed it in a teapot, Gongfu style and it yielded about 2 1/2 good brews.
We will attempt to brew this tea in a Gaiwan as we think the brew would yield a far more flavorful and intense flavor.

Recommended brewing by seller is Gongfu in a teapot with boiling water. 
Steep the tea for 15 seconds and pour off the waste water.
Then  refill the teapot with more hot water and steep 20 seconds, this is your first drinking brew.
With Puer teas it is highly recommended to pour the brew from the teapot into a Justice cup.
This will allow for a more even flavored brew.
Sellar recommends with each subsequent brew the steeping time steeped longer 30 seconds for the 3rd, 60 seconds for the 4th and 120 seconds for the 5th brew.
However for those who prefer stronger brews, steep longer. 

We at Tea Horse Caravan like out Puers full bodied and robust and have a tendency to steep long for subsequent steeps after the initial drinking brew.
Also, we tend to extract the Puer brew until it is completely spent.

Color - dark Amber, clear, clean and sparkle
Scent: Earthy, roasted rice, sweet, fragrant
Flavor: sweet, roasted rice and smooth clean finish
Liquor: thick and rich

After finish is cleansing for the palate. Excellent digestive

Guide to Good Tea in the Bay Area

World of Tea - Sun, 10/23/2016 - 17:05

You may not be aware, but the Bay Area is a hotbed of tea culture, nowhere else in the states can seem to support such a slew of high-end tea shops. What set the stage for such a great tea-scene? Well nearly a quarter of people in the Bay Area are of Asian descent and in the 1990s, David Lee Hoffman and Roy Fong began importing Chinese teas, the likes of which Americans hadn’t seen. Since then, specialty tea has spread across the United States but the Bay Area still has the largest collection of high-end tea shops. Let’s dig into the list. If I’ve omitted any that you believe should be in the list, please let me know.

San Francisco Red Blossom

One of the most well-known tea shops in the Bay Area, Red Blossom sources all of their tea and tea ware directly from a community of growers and artisans in China and Taiwan. There is no formal sit-down area in this shop, but they will do gongfu samples for you of their teas before you buy them. 831 Grant Avenue San Francisco, California 94108 Website. The Center SF

Another attempt at providing a membership-based tea spot in San Francisco, The Center SF features many direct-source  organic teas served Gong-Fu style by the staff on duty.  548 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, California 94117 Website. Song Tea and Ceramics

Song Tea and Ceramics was started by Peter Luong who used to source teas for Red Blossom. Song Tea and Ceramics takes the Red Blossom concept to the next level with higher quality tea and a larger selection of artisan tea ware. There is no formal sit-down area in this shop, but they will pour samples for you of their teas before you buy them. 2120 Sutter Street, San Francisco, California. Website. Imperial Tea Court

Imperial Tea Court was started by one of the pioneers in the US tea industry, Roy Fong. His first shop opened in San Francisco’s Chinatown in 1993. His flagship is now located in the Ferry Building and serves food (try the hand-pulled noodles) as well as his fantastic Chinese teas. In The San Francisco Ferry Building 1 Embarcadero, San Francisco, California. Website.   Asha Teahouse

A contemporary bustling tea house with fantastic directly sourced teas, as well as a full menu of tisanes, boba teas, and purees that include teas. 17 Kearny St., San Francisco, California 94108. Website. Samovar

Samovar was founded by Jesse Jacobs and quickly expanded around the San Francisco area. Each shop is a bit different, but each one serves tea and light meals. There are now four locations in San Francisco including their new concept shop in the Mission featuring a row of Alpha Dominche Steampunk Brew Machines. Website. North Bay Western Gate / Phoenix Collection

The Western Gate is a non-profit, community-centered Teahouse and Book Commons located in the San Geronimo Valley of West Marin County, California. The teahouse features a small sit-down area where you can enjoy gongfu style tea. In 2016, Western Gate merged with David Lee Hoffman’s The Phoenix Collection. Lagunitas Station 7282 Sir Francis Drake Blvd, Lagunitas, California. Website. Desta Tea

This tea and art gallery features the many teas both single-origin and flavored as well as art from artisans around the world. 417 San Anselmo Avenue, San Anselmo California. Website. Taste of Tea

This tea lounge and tasting bar offers food, tea and sweets, in the heart of downtown Healdsburg. 109 North St, Healdsburg, California 95448. Website. Breakaway Matcha

This popular matcha brand offers classes at this location in San Anselmo and tastings by appointment only. Contact via website. East Bay Far Leaves Tea

This Chinese style tea house in Berkeley has a comfortable urban vibe. There is a large sit-down cafe serving tea (mostly gongfu style) and light snacks. Far Leaves also has an area for musical performances so if you are lucky, you’ll catch one. 2626 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702. Website.   Asha Teahouse

A modern bustling tea house with fantastic directly sourced teas, as well as a full menu of tisanes, boba teas, and purees that include teas. Definitely worth stopping in if you are in the Berkeley area. 2086 University Ave., Berkeley, California 94704. Website. Teance

Founded in 2002 by Winnie Yu, Teance is known for their beautiful tea bar in the back of the shop where you can sit and enjoy a gongfu service with many of the teas in the shop. This shop is definitely a must-visit if you are in the Berkeley area. 1780 4th Street, Berkeley, California 94710. Website. Imperial Tea Court

Imperial Tea Court was started by one of the pioneers in the US tea industry, Roy Fong. His first shop opened in San Francisco’s Chinatown in 1993. He now has two shops, one in San Francisco’s Ferry Building and this one in Berkeley that serves food (try the hand-pulled noodles) as well as his fantastic Chinese teas. 1511 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, California 94709. Website.

Sessa Estate Black Tea from Pekoe Sip House

SororiTEA Sisters - Sun, 10/23/2016 - 17:00

I recently started my day with a cup of Sessa Estate Black Tea from Pekeo Sip House. Sessa Estate Black Tea from Pekeo Sip House is a single estate Assam made from whole golden leaves. It ‘brews’ to a deep, dark brown – which I adore! The tea – once in the cup – smells malty and slightly sweet. On the tongue Sessa Estate Black Tea from Pekeo Sip House tastes malty, astringent-in-good-way, and quite Read More

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Midnight Melange Black Tea from Plum Deluxe

SororiTEA Sisters - Sun, 10/23/2016 - 11:00

Midnight Melange – Midnight Melange – Midnight Melange…say THAT 10 times fast! Midnight Melange is just FUN to say, isn’t it? Midnight Melange Black Tea from Plum Deluxe is also TASTY to sip on, too! Midnight Melange Black Tea from Plum Deluxe contains Black Tea, Hibiscus, Lemon Peel, Rosehips, Rose Petals, and Vanilla. The black tea base is medium strength. It has a tarty-tang of the hibiscus but I have to say it’s NOT overdone, Read More

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The Brew Is Out There by Geeky Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 10/22/2016 - 23:00

Hello Tea Friends! I’m guilty of sometimes picking a tea for it’s name and that pretty much describes why I’ve gone for this blend. In the 90’s I was a huge X Files fan and I would faithfully watch every episode when it aired. It was one of the only tv shows that me and my mother both liked so we would spend the time together watching it and I have some wonderful memories. Not to Read More

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Festive Coffee Fushion from Stylin’ Tea Blends

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 10/22/2016 - 11:00

Festive Coffee Fushion from Stylin’ Tea Blends is really something special. If you are into coffee and/or tea you will most likely find this of interest. For those of you who are into coffee flavored teas – this one is right up there! Not only does it contain Green Coffee Beans – it also has ground coffee! Pair that with a blended black tea AND Pu-erh base and you are sure to get your caffeine Read More

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Catnap from Aka Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 10/22/2016 - 11:00

I misread the name of this tea at first, and thought it said “Catnip.” Turns out I wasn’t far wrong, because this blend does actually contain catnip. It’s even more fitting when you consider that the company logo, and indeed the majority of their blends, are cat themed. Catnap is purportedly a relaxing blend, containing chamomile, mint, lemon verbena, lemon balm…and catnip. In my head, catnip isn’t something I typically associate with relaxation – it Read More

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Secret Garden from Pinch of Geek

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 10/21/2016 - 23:00

Being one that always shies away from lavender in teas, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about this tea. Secret Garden has a mix of lavender, jasmine green tea, dried roses, and rosehips. I loved all of the other components so I went ahead and gave the brew a try. Rich gorgeous floral notes comforted me as I sipped this tea down, cup after cup. Subtle romantic tones really give this tea that soothing Read More

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2017 Tea Festival and Trade Show Schedule

World of Tea - Fri, 10/21/2016 - 18:10

There are a growing number of tea festivals, industry trade shows and conferences around the world. This list is an attempt to capture them all and it will be updated as more dates are released. If I have omitted an event that you are aware of, please reach out to me and I will add it to the list. Which ones are you going to? Be sure to chime in the comments below!

January February March May June July September Not Yet Scheduled

Photo Credit: Terry Madely

Soothing Rose Hibiscus Skin Detox from Yogi Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 10/21/2016 - 17:00

I have been a fan of Yogi teas for quite awhile. I discovered this skin detox tea a few years ago, and I love it so much. It tastes a little sweet, a little floral-y, and very refreshing. The rose seems to balance out the hibiscus, so there is none of the hibiscus tartness. It tastes delicious hot or iced. As far as the benefits to the skin, I really do notice that my skin Read More

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Friday Round Up: October 16th - October 22nd

Tea For Me Please - Fri, 10/21/2016 - 16:56
2017 Tea Festival and Trade Show Schedule
Looking for a fun tea event to attend? +Tony Gebely put together a list of some of the upcoming festivals and trade shows for next year. Those dates will be here before you know it!

Uji Press Tea Tour 2016
+Ricardo Caicedo had what sounds like a once in a lifetime trip to the Uji region of Japan. How lucky is he! I'm definitely living vicariously through this blog post.

Dong Ding Near-Death Experiences
+Geoffrey Norman is one of my favorite tea storytellers (in case you couldn't tell from his many appearances in this round up). This week he wrote about a near-death experience that Shiuwen Tai of +Floating Leaves Tea had on her first visit to Dong Ding.

Jump start your own tea journey with these books on tea
+katherine bellman put together an awesome list of some must check out tea reads. Many of these are permanent residents on my bookshelf but I'm also adding a few to my "to read" pile.

Pacific Northwest Taiwanese Black Tea Comparison
+Charissa Gascho relocated and I've been loving all of the posts focused on the Pacific Northwest. In this post, she compares Ruby 18 offerings from three different vendors.

Favorite Tea Ware - Jeff Cleary of UNYtea Guy

Notes on Tea - Fri, 10/21/2016 - 14:42
As a tea drinker, and I am sure this is true for you, I adore teaware, from the chasen to the yixing teapot. Everyone has their favorites! This series showcases the favorite teaware of folks in the tea blogging community as well as people who enjoy drinking tea. The series kicks off this fall with tea objects from UNYtea Guy blogger, Jeff Cleary. You can also find Jeff's luminous photographs of tea @unyteaguy on Instagram.

One thing that is equally exciting for tea lovers other than tea itself is teaware. There are so many different vessels and tools used to make tea. One person could look at a “gong fu cha” setup and wonder what all the clutter is about, but each piece has a purpose. So, here are my top pieces of teaware.

Totem non-slip tea tray
from Totem Tea

This tray is small and light and has a thin coating that keeps your teaware from slipping and sliding. I love using it with my cupping sets when I’m doing tastings. It also makes a great tiny travel tray.

180ml Duani yixing pot 
from Yunnan Sourcing (no longer available)

I bought this little guy very lightly used from a tea friend. A few factors make this a favorite. The unique lid and its simple, smooth design is what originally peaked my interest. The pot functions very well, it pours well and holds heat for an appropriate amount of time. 180ml is a little on the big side, but nobody says you have to fill it all the way!

Mixing cup

I bought this at a local market soon after receiving my Duani pot because I needed to find a cup that came close to matching my pot. After not being able to find anything that matched the way I wanted it, I “settled” with this cup for $3 at a local lounge. This cup is a perfect example that great teaware doesn’t need to be expensive or flashy. Everything about this cup works for me; its nice and smooth and feels nice against my lips, it stays warm but doesn’t get to hot to hold, and it holds the perfect amount of liquid (50-60ml). If you like oolongs or puerh tea and you're into that whole seasoning thing, get a simple yixing cup, you’ll thank me later.

Hu Cheng (pot stand/support)
from Bitterleaf Teas

Every now and then we all need a little support, even your teapot. This is more than decoration because it is made of clay and holds heat just like a clay pot or gaiwan. As your tea session goes you just pour a little water on your pot to keep it warm and cozy. Any excess water will drain into your tea tray helping maintain a clean, orderly setup.

I've long admired Jeff's Duani yixing teapot so am glad it's one his favorite tea objects. A non-slip tray seems almost essential when you are styling your teas and wares for photo shoots. Although these pieces were purchased from different vendors, they make a lovely set. A big thanks to Jeff for giving us a peek into his teaware collection!

P.S. Catch up on all the posts in the Favorite Tea Ware series.

Rose Chai from Tea Dude

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 10/21/2016 - 11:00

I’ve had Rose Chai before from a few different companies. Some have been extremely floral because of the rose and others being extremely chai because of the spices. Rose Chai from Tea Dude went about this offering in a different way Tea Dude’s Rose Chai has – what I would consider – mellower spicy chai flavors and more delicate rose flavors, too! Both the chai and the rose are a bit more muted than other Read More

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