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My birthday just recently passed and with that came a lot of people asking “what do you want for your birthday?” This seems like a simple question yet I have a bit of an impulse control problem so I tend to buy the things I want as soon as I see them, which makes it surprisingly difficult to request reasonable gifts. However, this year I knew just what to ask for…the monthly subscription to A Quarter to Tea! Every time I read about their new teas of the month, my mouth waters and now that they deliver to Canada, I Read More
I love watermelon, especially watermelon slush and especially in the summertime! So, when I saw Watermelon Houjicha by 52 Teas in my sample box I was psyched. I have never had a watermelon flavored tea before. I have, however, had houjicha before and I love it. Houjicha generally has a very warm and toasty flavor to it. It is a very comforting green tea. I was curious to see how that would work with watermelon flavor. I’m not sure if I would say that the smell of the dry leaf or steeped liquid was “watermelon”. I think that what I Read More
I have been wanting to try this tea since I saw it listed on The NecessiTEA’s website. I was hoping to get an actual gumball in my sample, but unfortunately there wasn’t one! When i was a kid I used to love, love, love bubblegum ice cream! I loved the pink and all the multicolored gum pieces. And I loved the flavor. I dont always like bubblegum, flavor though. I find that it’s very easy to get tired of especially because it is so sweet. For that reason, I chose not to sweeten this cup. I know, I know…this is Read More
In college, my friends and I used to have a habit of drinking those vitamin C drink mixes like they were going out of style. Looking back, I recognize now that they were maaaybe nothing more than glorified Kool-Aid, but we felt pretty smug as Well Hydrated Persons with Extra Vitamin’d Superpowers. I’m not going to claim that this Sencha Naturals drink mix packet isn’t also slightly more than glorified Kool-Aid, but at the very least, this one’s got the addition of antioxidant-rich green tea in it, so I’m at minimum a little bit ahead of where college-Mary was in Read More
Over the years, we’ve started to notice a trend of tea companies who are giving back. We are currently working on creating a page on the site to give these tea companies their kudos, but we couldn’t wait to share the info. Back to Jerusalem Teas You can play a vital role in bringing hope to children displaced by ISIS when purchasing this tea. Proceeds will go to support the building and operation of a school for Yazidi children in a northern Iraq refugee camp. Without education in this critical time of their lives they might likely end up Read More
It’s been awhile since I’ve had Chai tea. Lately I’ve been drinking a lot of Tulsi herbal and ginger teas. I’m working on living a mostly caffeine free life, which can be a struggle at times. I was excited to try this Hojicha Chai because it is made with green tea, which of course is lower in caffeine than black. After checking their website, I was pleased to learn that this teas is made from larger leaves that have begun to lose their caffeine strength! Total win! I could smell the spices through the packet, and they smelled divine. I Read More
Reeds has been one of my favorite kombuchas for awhile. I came across a flavor I’ve never tried, passion mango ginger on a clearance sale at the grocery and bought five bottles. I knew that since it was Reeds it was a safe bet. I just tried one this morning, and man is it delicious! The ginger flavor is a real stand-out, so if you don’t like ginger this is not for you. I taste ginger first, and then a wonderful fruitiness from the mango, passion and orange juice. Something that I like about Reeds kombuchas is that it’s made Read More
A few quick questions for you guys: 1. Is there anything more delightful than cookies dunked in tea? I think not. 2. Is there anything more delightful than tea that tastes like cookies-dunked-in-tea? NOPE. 3. Am I boring you with my incessant questioning? Wait. Don’t answer that. If you could tell from my aforementioned poll-taking, this tea is delightful. Truly. The dry leaf smells like a confection straight from The Great British Baking Show (can you tell what I’ve been Netflix-bingeing lately?), and brewed, it’s even more delightful. This tea reminds me of a citrus chai, but with a warm, Read More
I have to admit I was scared to try this. I’ve never had a mojito, and I never liked rum when I did drink so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I brewed this into iced tea because it just seemed like it needed to be served cold. As soon as the warm water hit the sachet, I got a wonderful fruity smell that made me wish I was at the beach. I felt instantly safe and eager to try this. I added no sweetener, just brewed it into my iced tea container and chilled it overnight. When I had Read More
This article was originally posted to T Ching in April of 2013.
After six months of freelancing at home, I recently returned to work at an office. During my time at home, not only was I spoiled by having my own pantry and refrigerator close at hand, but my entire tea collection was within reach as well. Being at home, I could brew water to the proper temperature and steep my tea in any number of vessels. It was nice. Very nice.
At my previous job, I had my own office with a fair amount of space. I brewed my tea in a simple tetsubin, had a dozen or so teas on my bookshelves, and was able to get a pretty good grasp on water temperature. My office became known as “the tea shop” and though I wasn’t exactly hosting gong fu ceremonies, it was a pretty good setup for a workplace.
After a couple of weeks at my new job, I think I’ve found a good setup for most office workers, whether you have a cushy office or a small cube. First, let’s start with the big stuff. I’d recommend a small teapot with a removable mesh strainer, a silicone Tuffy tea strainer (which is nice because it has a top), or, at the very least, a mesh strainer that you can find in most kitchen shops or grocery stores these days. The main thing is to have an easy-to-clean filter that can handle fine teas like senchas, but allow leaves to breathe. Of course, avoid those small tea balls or other strainers that don’t let the leaves unfurl.
If you’re precise about measuring your tea, I recommend the Proscale 222. It’s tiny, inexpensive, comes with a tray, and is precise to 1/10th of a gram. I use this scale at home and when traveling.
The one other essential piece of equipment is a simple instant-read hot beverage thermometer. It costs less than $10, but is important because you never know just how hot that water is coming out of the sink, water filter, or instant hot faucet at work. (Bringing your own water from home is a great option, too, but you’ll still need to heat it and check the temperature.)
Optionally, you can bring something like a utiliTEA or less expensive hotpot to heat your water at your desk, but here’s my dirty little secret: I use the microwave at work. Don’t tell anyone, OK?
One of my favorite things about tea is that it’s easy and inexpensive to get started. The average person doesn’t need to settle for sub-par teabags at work; a few low-cost items paired with some good tea can make tea time something you look forward to and enjoy rather than accept, like bad office coffee.
There is literally no “wrong” time of year for pumpkin spice. I will never let such trivialities come in the way of a delicious taste or a review thereof. Feel free to pat me on the back for journalistic integrity. I boogey to the beat of my own drummer. Go ahead. Incorporate this into your own life. Drink tea “out of season.” Wear white after labor day. Wear black in the summer. Have visible panty lines. Go to a water park in the winter. Celebrate Halloween with a Gothy holiday tree. Adopt a squirrel and wear it as a hat. Read More
Did you ever try a tea and it doesn’t taste like the description? So you aren’t sure if you’re crazy? No? FINE. This tea, 1995 Aged Tieguanyin, is supposed to taste like cream, caramel, marigold, and cherry. I am getting spicy (!) and nectar. So I guess the nectar/slightly flowery taste could be the marigold and the caramel? But there’s definitely a little bit of a hot zing in here. The flowery nature is definitely in there. According to this tea’s (very frou-frou) description, “Master Zhang’s terraced fields on the cloud-enveloped peaks of Anxi are overgrown with wildflowers, and fed Read More
Sherlock Holmes is certainly a classic literary character. There are various renditions of him on the market and everyone has their own favorite. My personal favorite is the Benedict Cumberbatch Sherlock. Though, regardless of which Sherlock you know and like, we can all agree that he is a bit of a jerk. Brilliant and has his soft spots, but “rough around the edges” is a bit of an understatement when it comes to this classic character. With that in mind, I would say Mr. Holmes and a Smokey English Breakfast seem like a fitting pairing. Rough around the edges with Read More
I’ll be honest with you guys– I don’t know what Grimoire means. Or what Whiterun is. (Don’t take away my nerd card, please.) And frankly, I don’t even reach for green teas (or jasmines!) all that frequently. (I know. Stick with me, I promise.) So when I saw this one waiting for me in my sample stash, I was… dubious, to say the least. Never one to shy away from a cup of anything, however, I knew I had to give this one a try. The jasmine, upon brewing, is the FIRST thing you smell– and I mean that in Read More
This is the second half of an interview article with William Osmont of Farmerleaf, with more on Yunnan and pu’er related tea production. Read part one here.
What tea aspects indicate that a pu’er will age well, or what types of teas would it make more sense to not age? One sometimes hears that in the original Chinese tea culture pu’er wasn’t intended to be aged to improve it; any thoughts on that?
Good Huigan (sweet and fresh feeling in the throat) will be sustained through the years, and this is one of the main criteria on which pu-erh tea is evaluated.
Make sure the tea you aged doesn’t taste like green tea or isn’t too red when young. This degree of greenness depends on the way the kill-green process was done. An overly green or red pu-erh tea can be very enjoyable when young, and be disappointing after years of aging.
The big tea factory blends are generally intended to be aged, [and] they are not suitable for immediate drinking. Blends can be a safe choice for long term aging, even though they rarely contain high-quality material.
Bitterness tones down with age, but it doesn’t mean bitter teas will necessarily give a better tea once aged. For example, Yiwu tea generally has no bitterness, but it’s a sought after terroir for long term storage; this kind of tea can be unimpressive when young and turn into great sweet and complex teas after a couple of years of aging.
The Pu-erh tea culture is constantly changing; in its most current form, it is considered this tea can be enjoyed young, as it was consumed in Yunnan, and aged, as it was consumed in Guangdong. The Tibetan way of drinking it with Yak butter doesn’t seem to have spread much. In a pre-industrial context of smallholders, it was technically much easier to produce Pu-erh tea than other types of teas. When made in small quantity, the only piece of equipment required is a wok. Sun-drying was used to dry tea, just like it was used to dry fruits, corn or cabbage.
The tea culture has been shaped through the constraints of production and logistics. People like wet-stored tea in Guangdong because that is the way tea would turn out in those conditions. Some tea lovers in the West build “pumidors”, while I have never found one in China. It is beautiful to see the tea culture evolve as tea spreads throughout the world.
What is the local (Yunnan) understanding of ideal and problematic pu’er storage conditions? Is environment humidity the primary concern?
In Yunnan, few people actively control humidity; they typically store the tea cakes in their bamboo wraps in cardboard boxes. When stored in large quantity, the air flow is somewhat limited, which is believed to preserve the fragrance of tea. Some tea professionals limit the air exchange further by wrapping the boxes with plastic sheets. This technique makes sense as long as the leaves are not vacuum sealed. The aging process does require oxygen to occur, but the air contained inside the box should be enough for decades. A minority advocates for a complete removal of oxygen, this slows down the oxidation process and the tea profile evolves in a very different way.
Aging is the result of enzyme activity, called “enzymatic browning” in the food industry, and the action of micro-organisms. The relative importance of each in the aging process depends on humidity. In wet environments, microorganisms take a large role in tea oxidation, while in dry environments, their action is negligible. This probably explains the difference in taste profile that we can observe between wet and dry-stored teas.
What is the difference between using tea from just one plant to make tea versus mixing it? Per input related to other tea types (eg. Dan Cong) the range of characteristics would be narrower; is this the same?
Pu-erh tea Single tree productions have been popular for a couple of years. Since only one or a handful of trees are harvested, the result in the cup varies widely. Some can have a very good throat-feel; others can be bitter and astringent, or sweet and fragrant… A big part of the appeal is to have the picture of the big tree and the feeling of tasting something very old. Self-suggestion can go a long way to make your session enjoyable, even though such productions wouldn’t necessarily perform better than a standard “gushu” harvest in a blind tasting.
Such productions are valuable by their limited quantity; you can hardly get more than a kilogram of dry tea from a single ancient tree. They can feature traits that are unexpected in their area of production and tend to change less along the infusions than standard productions that involve thousands of trees.
How much tea (leaf weight and dry weight) can an individual tea tree produce?
It really depends on the size of the tree, frequency of harvest, varietal, nutrient availability, water, sunlight, pest and disease, pruning method… It can go anywhere between 500g and 5kg of fresh leaves per year (about 120g to 1.2kg of dry tea). Some trees are picked three times a year, while other are picked thirty times.
What is your impression of how tea tree age affects pu’er quality or characteristics?
The leaves harvested from ancient gardens tend to have a better Huigan (sweet and fresh feeling in the throat), they can feature more pronounced bitterness that turns quickly into sweetness. They have an oily mouth feel that can remind [one] of chicken soup. Their fragrance can be more complex than tea made from young plantations. Old-growth tea can generally be brewed more times than young plantations tea.
These differences can also be noticed when comparing young and older tea plantations. A lot of great tea comes from 50+ year-old tea plantations.
It’s important to keep in mind that the age of the trees is only one factor among others that makes good tea. The agricultural techniques and the location of the gardens (including altitude, soil, environment…) will have a large impact on the taste of tea. Some young plantations produce excellent tea, while some old tea gardens are not highly praised.
To what extent can tea tree ages be identified?
Following some heated debates on the internet, I have looked into the questions. Interestingly, I have found published scientific articles that discuss the age of specific trees. At best, the circumference of the trunks is measured, and this is only loosely correlated to the age of the tree. According to farmers and experts I interviewed, growth rate of the trunk varies widely, depending on soil fertility and genetics. In some cases, we can know the age of the tea gardens from historical records, but not the age of specific trees.
The tree ring counting method does not seem to be used in the case of the tea trees.
Some vendors use the age of the trees as a selling point, but I would rather recommend using the size of the trees, which is easier to confirm.
Farmerleaf tea can be purchased here.
The post Interview with William Osmont of Farmerleaf, Part Two appeared first on T Ching.
Jasmine Pecan Shortbread by A Quarter to Tea- Doesn’t this sound so interesting? I love pecans. I put pecans in my shortbread. Yes, I make shortbread and yes it is absolutely incredible shortbread. I put pecans in it to add that crunch and my other half and I go nuts (no pun intended) over it. But, my shortbread is laden with butter. A Quarter to Tea’s “shortbread”, though? Not so much. What better way to get my cravings in than with this? I have been so excited to try this blend and I think today is the perfect day to Read More
The internet has been ablaze with a particularly nefarious news story typically titled something like, “You’ve Been Making Your Tea All Wrong!”. Are you sick of hearing this? Yeah, so...
The post Microwaving Your Tea, The Controversy Explained and Refuted appeared first on World of Tea.
I was immediately intrigued by this tea as soon as I saw it sitting in my sample box. I’d been hearing about Embrew from my fellow Sororitea Sisters for the last few weeks– they’re a new company, packaging loose leaf tea into bags with the sweetener already added. A far cry from my early tea drinking days, I don’t usually sweeten my teas now, but will occasionally when it feels like they need a little oomph (or for homemade tea lattes, because #treatyoself). This particular brew, Creamy Honey Oolong, sounds right up my alley. Brewed, it’s a beautiful light gold Read More
Since I have gotten my iced tea press it has been strictly used for fruit teas. Personally, I think those make the best iced teas and the lack of caffeine means I can have iced tea after iced tea without getting the jitters from caffeine overload. However, as I browsed my tea cupboard for the perfect tea, this caught my eye. A tea called Plum Berry is just begging to be iced and since the sample I had was the perfect serving size for the press, it felt right. Alas, sipping on this now, it doesn’t taste right. My concern Read More
You can’t go wrong with a smooth & full Sencha green tea with refreshing & invigorating peppermint…can you? I don’t think so! It’s been a while since I had a nice Sencha Minty Tea! This Sencha Mint from The Cozy Leaf is what’s in my cup as of late! And it’s putting a smile on my face! It’s an artisan loose leaf tea that is organic and hand blended! It’s the tea trifecta, folks! The Sencha itself is smooth yet full. It’s fresh and really stands up to any of the better and best Sencha’s I’ve tried. Pair that with Read More