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Honeybush Herbal Tisane from Simple Loose Leaf

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 03:59

Tisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Honeybush

Learn more about Simple Loose Leaf here.

Tisane Description:

A sweet, smooth honey-scented herbal tea, Honeybush is made up of the leaves, stems, and flowers of a bush native to South Africa. Honeybush provides a bit of a natural smoked flavor with a touch of a tart finish. It is caffeine-free, low in tannins and contains antioxidants, making it a delicious, healthy, and versatile beverage.

Ingredients:  South African Honeybush Herbal Tea

Learn more about this tisane here.

Learn more about Simple Loose Leaf’s Selection Club subscription program here.

Save 25% off when you sign up for the Selection Club.  Use the coupon code SISTERSELECTION25 when you join.  This discount is applicable only to the monthly Selection Club subscription and not the retail selection of teas.

Taster’s Review:

It’s not very often that I have a cup of straight-up honeybush anymore.  Usually, I’m tasting honeybush as part of a flavored blend.  But as I sit here, sipping on this Honeybush from this month’s box from Simple Loose Leaf, I find that I’m quite enjoying this!  I’m enjoying it a lot more than I expected to.

In fact, as I was brewing it, my attitude was kind of glib.  I wasn’t all that excited about it.  I mean, it’s not like I’ve not tried pure honeybush in the past.

But as I said, it’s been a while since the last time I had a cup of pure honeybush.  I don’t know for sure how long it’s been, but it’s been long enough to where I’ve forgotten just how tasty a cup of straight-up honeybush tastes.

It’s sweet and honey-esque.  Hence the name.  There is a nutty note to it, and a slight woodsy tone.  The description above suggests a “natural smoked flavor” and while I can’t say that I ever remember that smoky note in the past, I am noticing it now.  It’s slightly toasty.  It enhances the nutty flavors, so perhaps that’s why the smoky/toasty note was indistinguishable in the past because what was “smoky” or “toasty” was also “nutty.”  

It’s a very soothing beverage, and because it’s naturally caffeine free, it’s one that you can drink later in the evening without worry that you’ll start bouncing off the walls from a caffeinated buzz.  And while pure honeybush is not something that I keep on hand regularly, it sure is nice to have a cup of it every once in a while, and I have Simple Loose Leaf to thank for reminding me of that!

That’s one of the reasons that I absolutely LOVE the Selection Club tea box that arrives from Simple Loose Leaf in my mailbox every month.  I get five sampler size packages of high quality loose leaf tea in every box.  Each month, these five teas are different, and every month, the box is a new adventure.  It’s so much fun to receive this box every month!

White Calypso Tea from White Lion Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 16:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type: White

Where to Buy: White Lion Tea

Tea Description:

Exotic white tea leaves with tropical temptations! Mango, sweet guava, and a splash of grapefruit gave this tea its island soul.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Oh, YUM!  This White Calypso Tea from White Lion Tea is really tasty.

The Mango and guava are sweet and luscious, while the grapefruit notes are bright and uplifting.  It’s tropical, it’s sweet and a little bit tart, and it’s well-balanced.  It’s a taste of the tropics in a teacup.

I like that while the fruit flavors are strong, the white tea is not overpowered.  I’m not sure what type of white tea is used for this blend, but based on the color of the leaf, I suspect it’s a Shou Mei, or perhaps a blend of Shou Mei and White Peony.  The flavor tastes a bit more like a Shou Mei than a White Peony to me.

The mango and guava meld together seamlessly.  It’s a very unified flavor.  The grapefruit is the star of this fruit medley, in my opinion, because it shines bright.  The mango and guava tastes sweet and juicy, but the tartness (and that hint of bitterness) from the grapefruit bring this flavored tea to life.  The grapefruit seems to dance on my palate!

I steeped this tea for 4 minutes in 170°F water.  When it comes to white teas, I usually I use 1 1/2 to 2 bamboo scoops of tea to 12 ounces of water (I have a bamboo scoop similar to this one), however, with this tea, the leaves are cut to a smaller size so I only used 1 scoop of tea to 12 ounces of hot water, and this worked out perfectly.  A very flavorful cup!

This tea would be an excellent choice for mid-day, when you’re looking for a tea on the lighter side but one that will give you a little energy boost to keep you going.

Hankook Tea Brown Rice Green Tea

Tea For Me Please - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 16:00
Country of Origin: Korea
Leaf Appearance: deep green, lots of roasted rice
Ingredients: green tea, roasted brown rice
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 200 degrees
Preparation Method: mesh infuser and testubin
Liquor: pale green

I have been wanting to try this tea ever since I saw Bonnie write about it on Thirsty for Tea. I have a weakness for genmaicha but this isn't just any brown rice tea. It's South Korean! There is a higher ration of leaves to rice than you will usually see in a genmaicha and the rice is roasted rather than popped. I rarely make an entire pot of tea but this one called for it on an unseasonably chilly day. The taste was sweetly vegetal and mellow with a wonderfully comforting quality to it. There was an almost buttery affect that I've not experienced in this type of tea before. It had just a hint of astringency but it never bordered on bitter. At $9.99 for 40g, I'd definitely consider keeping this one in stock permanently (if I didn't have tea coming out of my ears at the moment). I shared some with my brother as he was recovering from a bout of stomach issues and he enjoyed it as well.

Brown Rice Green Tea sample provided by Hankook Tea.
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Pesticides? Not in my tea!

T Ching - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 12:03

Those of us who are part of the organic movement are painfully aware of the hazards of pesticides in our foods.  Because we perceive tea to be a healthy beverage, we might not think about pesticides being associated with the produce.  With conventionally grown tea however, pesticides are a concern that consumers need to be aware of.  I came across a disturbing article written by Dan Bolton that underlines these concerns.

It appears that the tea grown in India for domestic use has significant amounts of pesticide residue in it.  “During the period June 2013 through May 2014 Greenpeace sampled 49 branded packaged teas from 8 of the top 11 companies that market domestically. Many of these companies also export tea to Russia, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, the United States and Canada.
A total of 34 pesticides were found in 46 of the 49 samples and 29 of the total contained residue indicating a cocktail of more than 10 different pesticides had been applied. One sample contained residues of 20 different pesticides, some of which are banned.”  Perhaps of even greater concern was that some of the samples contained pesticides that have been widely banned, such as DDT and Monocroptophos, which is reported to be an extremely hazardous organophosphorus pesticide. 

I think what disturbs me the most is that these multinational tea companies know that they can’t get away with distributing these toxic tea internationally – but can do so within their domestic markets. It’s unconscionable to poison their own people for reasons of financial gain. How can we continue to support companies that flagrantly disregard the health of their consumers? My hope is that this exposure will force these tea companies to do the right thing. Why should there be different standards for exported tea verses teas for the domestic market? Ultimately moving toward healthy and sustainable agricultural practices is the long term solution. Omitting pesticides entirely is a wonderful goal and research is confirming that there are affordable ways to accomplish this.

We have seen this kind of disregard in the financial markets in this country. The U.S. has suffered tremendously because of the greed of the banking/financial/housing/mortgage industry.  Let’s not allow our health to be compromised because of similar financial greed. Obviously drinking a cup of conventionally grown tea periodically isn’t going to kill anyone. Drinking a cup of tea which has pesticide residue in it, everyday, over weeks, months and years will accumulate in our bodies and will cause harm to our systems. Knowledge is power.

MAIN:             IMAGE 1:

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LACMA - French Neo-Classical Tea and Coffee Service

The Tea Horse Road - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 07:00

Coffee Cup and Saucer - 1779Porcelain with enamel, gilding and glaze
Louis Francois LecotFrance 1741/2 - 1800/3Sevres Porcelain Manufacturer

Cup and Saucer circa 1730
Soft-paste porcelain and glazeStaint-Cloud Porcelain Manufactory

Plate, Cup and Saucercirca 1750
Vincennes Porcelain ManufactoryFrance 1740-1756
Soft paste porcelain with enamel and gilding

Cup and Saucer circa 1800's
Porcelain with enamel, gilding and glaze

Ayurvedic Stimulating Tea from Tea of Life

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 03:59

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Learn more about Tea of Life and Amazon Teas here.

About Tea of Life Ayurvedic Collection:

The word “Ayurveda” is derived from two words – “Ayus” meaning life and “Veda” meaning ‘knowledge’ or ‘science’.  So the literal meaning of the word Ayurveda is ‘The Science of Life.’

Life or Ayus, according to Ayurveda, is a combination of senses, mind, body and soul.  So Ayurveda does not just limit itself to the body or physical symptoms, but also provides comprehensive knowledge about spiritual, mental and emotional health.  

The traditional healing system of Ayurveda is based on a theory of balance between the body (physical), the soul (spiritual) and the mind (psychological).  

Ingredients:

Black Tea with cinnamon, Nutmeg, Coriander, Ginger & Rose flavors.

Taster’s Review:

I categorized this Ayurveda Stimulating Tea from Tea of Life as a “chai” because even though it doesn’t have all the “usual” spices of a masala chai blend, it has several of them.

That said, this doesn’t taste like the “usual” chai that I’m used to drinking.  It’s not quite as spicy as a typical chai.  I taste more black tea than I do spices.  That’s not a bad thing – I’m just saying that it’s a different tasting “chai.”

The black tea is smooth and nicely round.  Even though it’s a finely chopped CTC (in a tea bag, no less), it has a pleasing flavor.  It’s full and robust and energizing.

The spices add a nice depth to the flavor.  The coriander is the strongest flavor that I notice in this blend, but I can also taste the cinnamon and nutmeg, and even a hint of kick from the ginger.  The ingredient list suggests a rose flavor too, but I’m having a hard time detecting it.  When I slurp the cup, I can pick up on whispers of rose notes but it’s very faint.

Overall, this is alright.  Not my favorite chai blend, but I do like how the coriander comes through.  And it does deliver what it promises:  it’s a stimulating cup of tea!

Travel with no tea

A Tea Addict's Journal - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 02:54

Normally when I travel overseas, I bring my own tea. This way I have an assured supply of decent tea, so long as I can find hot water. On my most recent trip, however, I decided to not bother and see what happens. Granted, I was going to Japan, so things are a little easier in that it’s a tea drinking country. I know I’ll be able to find tea here and there. With a one year old in tow, it’s just easier to travel with as little as possible.

It also ended up being a good look at how normal people can consume tea. I think doing this across many countries can also tell you, generally, how much tea that place drinks. In Japan’s case, the answer is obviously a lot. The kinds of tea that I ended up drinking include a large number of bottled teas – from cheap roasted oolong to sencha ones, bought from vending machines or in some cases convenience stores. I consumed a number of hotel teabags, which include a Lipton Darjeeling (doesn’t taste like anything from Darjeeling), a Lipton Ceylon (what you’d expect), some unbranded oolong tea (cheap Chinese restaurant tea) and some unbranded sencha (meh). At various restaurants tea is offered as a matter of course, with hojicha being the most likely beverage given.

One of the rooms I stayed at, this one at a ryokan, also gave me this

Which is a basic sencha kit. You can see the kyusu is cheap, but if you’re going to let regular guests use it, it’s probably wise to use cheap kyusus. It has everything you need – two cups (more if there were more guests, I believe), a pot, a water container, two chataku, a towel, and two types of tea – a sencha and a hojicha. The sencha is bagged, while the hojicha is not. I suspect it mostly has to do with the fact that the sencha was going to be difficult to clean out of the kyusu so they bagged it for convenience. The teas are actually decent quality.

Now, this is all in a country that produces a large amount of tea, where every hotel room has a water kettle, and generally is friendly to tea drinkers. If I had brought my own tea, I would’ve just drunk those plus maybe some bottles, which is not too bad.

Contrast that with Korea, though, and you can see that Korea, in general, is not a tea friendly place. Hotel rooms at two pretty decent hotels have no provision for good hot water – you need to either use the coffee machine, which is mostly a horrible idea, or you ask the hotel to bring hot water to you, which they do but in carafes that have carried coffee before, thus defeating the purpose of asking for water in the first place. Restaurants do not routinely offer caffeinated tea as a beverage. I brought my own tea there, but it was a frustrating experience. Your best bet is to go to the nearest coffee shop and buy that anonymous black tea they have. It’s a much sadder place for a tea drinker. It’s at more or less the same level as traveling to the US. Koreans drink coffee.

From my experience, if you’re not happy drinking anonymous bagged black tea all day long from paper cups, only Japan and Taiwan are safe places to travel without any tea of your own. Even mainland China is dicey - you need to hit tourist spots to find those tea stands that sell you cheap but decent green teas. Although at least in China, good hot water is to be had everywhere, so bringing your own is made much easier.

Watermelon Splash Tea Blend from Bluebird Tea Co.

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 16:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green & White Teas

Where to Buy:  Bluebird Tea Co.

Tisane Description:

A refreshing blend of green and white tea bursting with juicy melon and fruit flavours. A truly spring time tea, fresh and fruity and totally mouth-watering over ice. Watermelon Splash is the perfect tea blend for sipping in the sunshine.

Learn more about this blend here.

Taster’s Review:

This Watermelon Splash Tea from Bluebird Tea Co. isn’t just a “spring time” tea but it’s a wonderful summer time tea too!

I admit that I was a little dismayed to see that hibiscus is one of the ingredients, and even more dismayed to see the hibiscus in the blend as I measured it into my tea maker, but, really, the hibiscus adds very little to this blend except for a slight pinkish hue that embraces the whole ‘watermelon-y’ sort of theme of the tea.  The texture is light – not at all syrupy the way hibiscus can be in a blend – and the flavor is not overly tart.

There is some tartness to this though, and not just from the hibiscus, but also from the lemon peel.  But I think I like these tart notes, because they contrast in a pleasant way with the sweetness and add an uplifting brightness to the cup.

To brew this blend, I used a lower temperature (it’s a blend of both white and green teas, and in blends like this, I generally yield to the lowest temperature, in this case, I’m yielding to the white tea brewing requirements) of 170°F.  I know that a lot of people will tell you that 160°F is the way to go with white teas, but, I have found that adjusting that temperature by 10 degrees will provide a much more flavorful cup of white tea without any bitterness or sign of scorched tea leaves.

I steeped this for 3 minutes and the result is a flavorful cup that is lightly pink in color, looking a bit like the liquid at the bottom of a bowl of cut-up watermelon.  In other words, it looks like watermelon juice.

The tea smells like a medley of fruits.  I can smell watermelon, coconut, pineapple and citrus.  The first few sips were more lemon-y than they were watermelon-ish.  After about two sips, I could start to pick up on the coconut and pineapple flavors.  It wasn’t until I reached mid-cup that I started to note the watermelon flavor.

The base of white and green teas is light and crisp and buttery smooth.  I don’t get a strong “grassy” note, but I do taste the fresh “leafy” taste that is distinctly green tea.

The tea notes are best described as background notes.  They aren’t very prominent flavors amid the fruit flavors.  I can barely taste the white tea, but it lightens the cup in a way that benefits the overall beverage.  It adds this refreshing, cool taste that is just as distinctly white as the aforementioned fresh leafy taste is distinctly green, even though the cup does not scream out “white tea” or even “green tea.”  While these flavors are not abundantly ~clear~ in the cup, this blend would not be the same without either of these two teas in it.  They add something flavorful to the cup, it is just not as distinguished as the fruit notes.

I found myself enjoying this cup.  I do wish there was a stronger, more obvious watermelon note to it, but I really do like the combination of flavors.  It’s a great way to quench the thirst.  Good hot but much better iced!

White2Tea 2002 White Whale

Tea For Me Please - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 16:00
Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: somewhat dark, tightly compressed
Ingredients: puerh tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: dark amber

I cannot stress enough what an awesome vendor +White2Tea is. I posted a total newbie question on TeaChat about how to tell the difference between "ancient" and young plantation teas. Paul reached out privately offering samples that he thought would help me to understand. Included in the treasure trove that arrived a few weeks later was a brick of White Whale. I had heard quite a bit of buzz about it from fellow bloggers and on Steepster. Things have been a bit crazy so it had been way too long since I had a good raw puerh when I finally got a chance to sit down and enjoy some. The taste was earthy with a pine-like smokiness and notes of camphor. There was very little astringency and the thick mouth-feel made it feel even smoother. Strangely enough, I was reminded of the rosin that I used on my violin when I was in grade school. That might sound unpleasant for some but it was a nice sensory memory. Holy cow! I must have lost some of my tolerance because I was tea drunk very quickly. As I said when I logged this one on Steepster, Is it the best puerh I've had? Of course note. Is it the best $15/100g puerh that I've ever had? Absolutely!

2002 White Whale sample provided by White2Tea.
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Global Tea Hut: Affecting Change

T Ching - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 12:05

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human one. Everywhere you go you can’t help meeting people who are more spiritually aware of concepts like equanimity, mindfulness, compassion, Being, presence, meditation, surrender, forgiveness and so on. More and more conscious communities are arising and lending themselves to causes greater than pursuit of personal profit, in service of all beings. Spiritual work is, after all, ultimately about transcendence and service to others. Being committed to a spiritual or Dhammic life means the choices you make every day are as much as possible in alignment with a life of service. And one choice that everyone faces today is surrounding the food we eat, and also the tea we drink.

Here at the Hut, we drink and share organic tea and more often living tea, which many of you have come to know as tea that is grown in harmony with Nature; tea that is seed-propagated with ample space to grow; tea that is tended to by caring human hands; real tea, with an energy that speaks to your heart. Living tea is the ideal. She has so much to offer. An old tree’s roots tap deep and its crown sweeps the sky. That connection to the Earth and the Heavens relays a message in every brew, every bowl. Genetic variance sits in each seed and a local ecology unfurls in each leaf. Such tea not only heals us now in the present, but also will be here long after we are gone to heal future lovers of tea. But as we’ve said before, the major problem with this type of tea is that it simply can’t be made available to everyone due to its growing conditions and time requirements. In lieu of having living tea always available, as we are so lucky to have at the Tea Sage Hut, choosing organic plantation tea is a great alternative to align your tea-self with Nature.

Without going into any great detail on the economics of organics, I would simply like to talk about tea and what it means for you, and us here in Taiwan, when we buy organic. Let organic not be constricted to any particular set of values, certifications or trademark standards. What does organic mean to you on an intuitive level? I like to think about the food and agriculture practices during times when people were really in tune with their environment and the cosmos; when people lived off their own land and respected Her as part of their family; when soil was clean enough to eat raw; when organic food was just called . . .  “food.” While certification is something you will need to consider on your own if you choose to buy organic tea. I’ll leave it up to you to investigate. One can’t be too lax or too serious when making that decision, and there are a lot of different organic standards out there. I say that because there are many other factors affecting your tea aside from what the label says, like your frame of mind, the intention behind your actions and the environment you live in.

 “Affecting Change” was  written by Shane Marrs, and first published by Global Tea Hut in August, 2013.

Global Tea Hut has generously granted permission to T Ching to publish past articles from their publication each week.  These will appear on Wednesdays.

 

MAIN image courtesy of T Ching archives.  Image 1:

The post Global Tea Hut: Affecting Change appeared first on T Ching.

Kettle Corn Maté from 52Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 03:59

Tisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Yerba Mate

Where to Buy:  52Teas

Tisane Description:

If you could smell this through the internet, we would be sold out instantly. This is an amazing blend of roasted yerba maté, freeze-dried corn, marigold petals and organic flavors including popcorn and honey flavors. This is a seriously comforting cuppa. It’s all the goodness of kettle corn, but it won’t get stuck in your teeth. =)

Learn more about this tisane here.

Taster’s Review:

I was glad to read 52Teas’ announcement of their tea of the week for the week of July 14.  Not because of the “Kettle Corn” part (although, that sounds amazing) but because of the Yerba Mate part.  It’s been a while since 52Teas released a Yerba Mate blend (or a Guayusa blend!) so I was excited to try another Yerba Mate blend from them.

When it comes to Yerba Mate, I usually go with a slightly lower than boiling temperature – 195°F – and steep the leaves for 8 – 10 minutes.  This time, I went with 8 minutes and I’m pleased with the results.  Because Yerba Mate doesn’t have the tannins that Camellia Sinensis leaves have, you don’t have to worry about the cup becoming bitter from oversteeping, so take advantage of that and get as much flavor as you can out of this tea!  It’s worth the effort!

Because this is yum!

When the cup is piping hot, this doesn’t really taste much like Kettle Corn, but as it cools (slightly – you still want the tea to be hot!) those flavors begin to develop.

At this point, I feel I should mention that my experience with Kettle Corn is limited to the few times that I’ve had it from the commercially packaged offerings that I can find in the grocery store which add up to probably fewer than a handful of times, and the once or twice that I’ve had the Kettle Corn varieties of microwave popcorn.  I haven’t ever had Kettle Corn at a fair, then again, I don’t attend fairs.  Not my kind of thing.

But from the Kettle Corn experiences I’ve had, this is very similar to what I remember.  I can taste the sweetness of honey and the flavor of popcorn.  A pinch of salt added to the cup will help to accentuate the “sweet and salty” aspect of the Kettle Corn experience, and this really helps the popcorn notes shine through as well as give the cup a really intriguing contrast of flavors (I absolutely LOVE the combination of salty and sweet).

The Yerba Mate is a good base for these flavors.  It’s got that robust, roasty-toasty sort of flavor that ties in well with the popcorn notes.  It adds warmth to the cup which enhances the whole experience and gives it a “freshly popped” popcorn type of taste.

After having tried this both hot and iced, I have to say that I prefer it hot.  It’s alright iced, but the flavors become somewhat muted in the process.  When served hot, the Kettle Corn flavors seem truer – as if someone had liquefied some Kettle Corn and added it to my cup of Yerba Mate.  When cold, the flavors seem to all meld together and it’s difficult to discern what I’m actually tasting.  It tastes more like a cup of caramel-y … something.  It’s still good, but it doesn’t taste like the Kettle Corn Yerba Mate that the hot cup offers.

Tasty!

Strawberry Cream Cheese Pinwheel Pastry paired well with Paoli Oolong (chilled)

Pon Fon Cha - Tue, 08/26/2014 - 16:32


Our good friend Ivan and Joecy has cooked a very delicious Taiwan Hakka dish for our dinner today. Karen then thought of having a snack to let us enjoy while pairing with ooloong.Here is it... Strawberry Cream Cheese Pinwheel Pastry... beautiful and actually very delicious.  We decided to go with our Paoli Oolong #70443  (Quei-Fei) in chilled.  (2014.0824)

Earl Grey Black Tea from Verdant Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 08/26/2014 - 16:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black & Oolong

Where to Buy:  Verdant Tea

Tea Description:

We start with our most popular tea, Laoshan Black for a chocolatey base, and build a crisp flavor with Yu Lu Yan Cha and a long sweet aftertaste with roasted Wuyi Oolong from the Li family. We accent the sweet richness of the teas and meld them together with a touch of vanilla, and finish with the fine organic bergamot oil. The result is decadent, creamy, rich and subtle.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This is one of the more unique Earl Grey tea blends that I’ve tried, and it comes as no surprise that this blend should come from Verdant Tea – because they always seem to take a very unique approach when it comes to classic tea flavors like Earl Grey.

That’s one of the things I absolutely love about this company – this is a company of artists!  They think outside the box when it comes to traditional favorites.  Sure, they could have taken one of their superior black teas and added bergamot oil and said, “there you have our Earl Grey.”  But, they didn’t stop with just one of their superior black teas, they chose two – their Laoshan Black and their Yu Lu Yan Cha – and then they added their Wuyi Oolong just to kick it up a notch (or two!)

Wait a second.  Oolong and Black tea?  OK … so since Wuyi Oolong tends to be a darker Oolong, I went with 195°F and 3 minute steep time for the first infusion.

The dry leaf smells amazing.  The bergamot notes are strong, but I can also detect those sweet notes of vanilla in there too.  And then I smelled the chocolate-y notes of the Laoshan Black.  These chocolate-y notes were very THERE as the tea steeped.  My mouth was watering from the aroma that filled my kitchen.

The brewed liquid – surprisingly – smells more of the Laoshan Black tea than it does bergamot.  I was a little worried … but just a little, because this is Verdant Tea, after all, and I hoped they wouldn’t disappoint me.

When the tea is very hot, the Laoshan Black tea is a very dominate flavor.  After allowing the tea to cool to a drinkable temperature, though, the other flavors began to emerge.

Oh my!  This is lovely!  The Laoshan Black tea with its distinct chocolate-y flavors remains a dominate flavor profile in each sip.  (Yeah, that means I get chocolate happiness with every sip!)  And I like the way this tea melds with the flavors of bergamot and vanilla.

The vanilla tones are subtle at first, but as I near mid-cup, the vanilla flavors are developing.  It’s creamy and sweet, but unlike some of the Earl Grey Creme teas that I’ve tried, it’s not a dominate flavor.  It doesn’t “soften” the bergamot, it complements the flavor profiles of the Laoshan Black and the Yu Lu Yan Cha Black teas, encouraging those chocolate-y and malty notes to come forward.

The Yu Lu Yan Cha Black is a tea that I will be reviewing at a later date.  I was actually going to be writing that review now, but, when I went to the Verdant Website, I noticed that the Yu Lu Yan Cha Black is currently out of stock and the Earl Grey was still in stock, but in very low quantities.  (In other words, if this tea interests you, you should go forth and buy it now before it sells out.)

The Wuyi Oolong offers a very soft toasty, nutty note that offers a very harmonious flavor that marries perfectly with the chocolate and malt notes of the black teas.  It also offers a nice – almost buttery – texture the cup that melds nicely with the creamy notes of the vanilla.

The second infusion is as delightful as the first – although it is a little different from the first cup.  Most notably, the Laoshan black tea has mellowed a little, allowing the other flavors some “play time.”  This cup is smoother and creamier than the first.  I’m tasting a sweet potato note as well as notes of fruit from the Oolong.  I am not tasting much from the bergamot nor the vanilla, but this is still a very tasty cup of tea!

As lovely as this tea is, I have to admit that the bergamot flavor is not as strong as I would like it to be.  I like a bright, bold bergamot note and that is something that I’m just not getting here.  I do get a nice tangy tingle of bergamot in the aftertaste and this flavor dances on the palate long after the sip.  I like that … but I do find myself wishing that there was more of that tangy bergamot during the sip to contrast with the sweet chocolate-y flavors of the Laoshan Black, the hints of toasty flavor from the Wuyi Oolong and the malty, sweet notes of the Yu Lu Yan Cha Black.

That said, I really enjoyed this blend and it’s a tea that I’d be happy to drink any time.  It’s a really delicious tea with lots of layers of flavors to discover.

The Everything Healthy Tea Book by Babette Donaldson

Tea For Me Please - Tue, 08/26/2014 - 16:00
Health benefits can be a touchy subject when it comes to tea. They aren't a factor for me personally but they are what leads many people to their love of the leaf. That being said, I've always thought that was time that we had a fair and balanced book on the subject. The Everything Healthy Tea Book just might be what I've been looking for. I met Babette Donaldson at World Tea Expo and was lucky enough to receive a press copy. Although it is soft cover, this book still weighs in at 304 pages.

Although health claims are discussed in depth, there are scientific studies sited. I love that! I have a feeling that I will be using this book for reference frequently as I often have customers who have very specific questions about health benefits that I'm not always able to answer. In addition to highlighting every category of tea, there are some very helpful chapters on tea brewing and storage. I was happy to see those there as I think the kind of person most likely to pick up this book will be new to tea. Regardless of if you are a neophyte or old pro, this book has a lot offer in a fun and approachable way.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed it, I still think my favorite book written by Babette Donaldson is Going Gonfu. Make sure that you check that one out when you are picking this one up!

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Tea Review 537: Lochan’s Doke Rolling Thunder 2013 2F

Walker Tea Review - Tue, 08/26/2014 - 13:30
  Origin: Doke Estate, Bihar, India Harvest: 2013 2nd flush Score: 88 Price (as of post): 50 g = $6.00  to Walker Tea Review. Get complete access to Member Content.   Sign Up For The Newsletter. Sample provided by Lochan Tea. Walker Tea Review- a tea blog with tea reviews and tea tastings. Want to see […]

Good Medicine: a tea lounge in Hood River!

T Ching - Tue, 08/26/2014 - 12:00

Good news, Good news!  Hood River, Oregon finally has a tea lounge!  I’m sure you’ve heard of a “tea parlor” – which conjures uncomfortable seating in a chilly, unused room. You’ve also, no doubt, heard the term “Tea House,” evoking a small Victorian two-story, complete with gingerbread trim.  Think tea lounge: a comfortable, warm place where you can order a cup of quality whole leaf brew and rest yourself while you sip.

Rated #4 in Top Ten Small Towns, Hood River has year-round recreation on land, water, mountains, and air.  Scores of restaurants, a dozen brew pubs, two ice cream parlors, world class vineyards and wineries — just about everybody thinks it is paradise.

And it is, now that Randy Goetz and Nikol Clark – business as well as life partners – have opened up Good Medicine Tea Lounge.  A friend and I dropped in on the fourth day of business, where we found good tea, beautifully served in a comfortable and reflective place. Ah, a tea lounge! I ordered the “Kenyan Gray,” which was expertly brewed (pure water dispensed at the correct temperature over tea leaves and steeped for a precise time) and served in a beautiful double-walled cup, allowing me to cradle at my will. Between greetings and customers, I spoke to Randy and Nikol about the venture.

T CHING:  What made you decide to start a tea lounge?

NIKOL:  I am a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist.  It was part of my practice to prepare herbal blends for my patients and clients, which were therapeutic as well as pleasant to drink.  The herbal blends – tisanes – were so well received that I began to offer them at Saturday and Farmers’ Markets, where they were very popular.  Opening a tea lounge seemed a natural progression, and a way to add quality whole leaf tea to people in the area.

RANDY:  We want to offer great tea, some quality food items (provided by Leah’s Lunch), and educate people about what goes into the tea they are drinking.  We hope to have a tea-of-the-month, where we provide members with everything they need to brew the tea to perfection.

T CHING: I see you have several Fair Trade and Organic Teas.  Is that part of your philosophy of tea?

(Nikol jumped up to greet a friend.)

RANDY: Responsibly sourced and organic teas are important to us, but we have learned that it goes beyond the USDA label.  Many small tea farmers cannot afford the organic certification, but produce organically grown teas nevertheless.  In fact, in Sri Lanka, it is illegal to use pesticides on tea, but few tea growers can afford the organic certification.  That is part of the education we hope to offer our patrons.

T CHING:  If you were heading to a desert island for a year of meditation, and were told you could take a kilo of just one tea with you, what tea would you take?

NIKOL:  Just one?  I’d have to think long and hard between an earl grey – I drink earl grey every day – and jasmine pearls.  I love jasmine pearls.

RANDY:  Oh, that’s tough.  Probably a long-leaf twisty and toasty oolong.  I love the subtlety of oolong.

T CHING: Besides the remodeling and preparing the space, teaware, and tea, how did you prepare to open Hood River’s only tea lounge?

RANDY: We did lots of research and drank a lot of tea. We attended the World Tea Expo in Long Beach.  Wow, what sensory overload! There we talked to many, many people in the business.  We attended tea cuppings and lectures and the World Tea Awards.  The world of tea is huge – but the people are friendly and helpful.

NIKOL: We want to provide a comfortable place to enjoy a cup of tea, buy whole leaf tea, and learn about tea.

This comfortable little lounge will be a regular stop!

Location: 1029 May Street, Hood River, OR 97031

HOURS: M – F 7:00 AM – 3:00 PM

LOADING IMAGE courtesy Marsha Holliston; Image 1 courtesy Sandy Bushberg; Image 2 courtesy Regena Rafelson.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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LACMA - Neo-Classical English Tea Service - II

The Tea Horse Road - Tue, 08/26/2014 - 07:00

 TeapotStaffordshire, EnglandCirca 1750Stoneware with glaze


TeapotStaffordshire, EnglandCirca 1750 

Taiwan Alishan Jin Xuan Oolong (2014) from Fong Mong Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 08/25/2014 - 16:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Fong Mong Tea

Tea Description:

The hand-plucked leaves of Alishan Jin Xuan Oolong Tea are grown in the famous Ali Mountains (Alishan) in Taiwan. At the elevation of 1000 meters above, the mountainsides are covered with fog or clouds which are ideal for growing Oolong. Withbetter drought tolerance, also higher yield, the price is usually lower than Alishan Oolong. 

Jin-Xuan is a special variety of Camellia Sinensis (tea plant) developed through research at the Taiwan Tea Agricultural Research center. This special variety is known for producing an Oolong with a special fragrance and a very light creaminess. Alishan Jin Xuan Oolong brings one of the great locations for growing Oolong tea together with one of the special Oolong varieties.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I reviewed this tea previously but it’s a new year and along with a new year comes a new harvest.  And an AliShan Oolong is worth at least two reviews (maybe more when the new harvests arrive, right?)

And Fong Mong Tea has some really spectacular Oolong teas from Taiwan, including this amazing AliShan Jin Xuan!  It’s beautifully sweet and creamy, with notes of flower and hints of vegetation.  So many fantastic layers of flavor!

As I do with all AliShan Oolong teas, I use my gaiwan and fill my YiXing Mug with the first five infusions (following a 15 second rinse).  I use 180°F water to steep each infusion.  The first infusion is steeped for 45 seconds, and I add 15 seconds to each subsequent infusion.

The first cup (which is the combination of the first five infusions) is so smooth and creamy.  The floral notes and vegetative notes are softened by this sweet, creamy taste that reminds me of fresh cream.  It tastes indulgent and luxurious.

But even though it is a creamy and sweet tea, there is complexity to it.  Layers of flavor.  The creaminess is not overly heavy so that I can explore the floral notes which are reminiscent of orchid.  There is a honey-like sweetness just beneath the floral tones.  The next layer I notice is a mild vegetal flavor.  It’s very soothing and has a silky smooth mouthfeel.

The second cup (the combination of infusions 6 – 10) was even nicer than the first!  It is still quite creamy – which was surprising, as I had expected some of those creamy notes to wane considerably with this cup – and the tea is delectably sweet.  The vegetal notes are less discernible now, and I taste more floral notes and even a hint or two of sweet fruit.  Melon!  NICE!

The honey notes are still there.  The creamy notes are not quite as strong, but they are sweeter and more like vanilla!  So while the creamy notes are not quite as velvety and thick, the vanilla notes more than make up for it!

An absolutely LOVELY AliShan!  If you haven’t tried Fong Mong Tea – you really should!  You’re missing out!

Light of Day Organics All White Tea

Tea For Me Please - Mon, 08/25/2014 - 16:00
Country of Origin: U.S.A.
Leaf Appearance: mottled, somewhat broken
Ingredients: white tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 195 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: deep gold

I've written about several U.S. grown teas here but never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would be writing about a tea that was produced on a Biodynamic farm in Michigan. As you all know, if I write about something unusual it most likely came to me from esoteric tea hunter +Geoffrey Norman. He wrote about this tea back in April and was kind enough to share some when we met up at World Tea Expo. The leaves looked a bit broken and stemmy but very much like a Bai Mu Dan style white tea. Light of Day Organics' steeping instructions struck me as way too low temp so I sort of winged it. The taste was earthier and smokier than I had expected but it was still light and very pleasant. There were notes of pine along with an interesting hint of vanilla. I was worried about it being able to hold up to gongfu style brewing but it held like a champ. This one is definitely worth checking out if you are a fan of white tea.

All White Tea received courtesy of +Geoffrey Norman of Steep Stories.
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Dear Teabauchery: storing oolong

T Ching - Mon, 08/25/2014 - 14:17

We at T Ching are delighted to add a tea advice column each month.  If you have a question about any aspect of tea – from etiquette to teaware to tea itself – Teabauchery will answer your questions.  Send those queries to teabauchery@tching.com

Dear Teabauchery,

I have a habit of “saving” my best tea for a special occasion or special guest, but that special occurrence never occurs, and when I finally break open the seal, the tea has become so old that it has become about as tasty as foot powder.  Last month I purchased some exquisite High Mountain Oolong that I am “saving.”  How do I get over this hoarding instinct?  And, how long should I expect tea to be “fresh”?  What is the best way to keep tea fresh?

Thanks,

Saving my Tie Guan Yin

Dear Saving,

All tea drinkers have this problem from time to time (I know I have!)  I would recommend always opening your tea soon after you get it.  You don’t have to drink it all at once–in fact, you might find it impossible to do so–but it is meant to be enjoyed, whether solo or with company.  Try not to deny yourself the pleasure! As Dostoyevsky wrote, “I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.”

As many claim that High Mountain Oolong is the best tea on earth, why not indulge right away?  Tea is about the current moment–what is going on in the here and now.  If you cannot resist saving it for a while, choose a brand with a vacuum sealed container.

While this recommendation is fine and dandy, what does one do if you’ve passed the stage or prevention and it’s already expired?  No one wants to sip foot powder.

It never hurts to know the shelf life of your tea to avoid unsavory incidents.  If you store your tea in a location full of light and humidity, this can be a factor contributing to an early expiration.  Most tea lasts for about a year or two if stored properly, although even that can be pushing it.  Less oxidized teas expire more quickly.  High Mountain Oolong is a semi-oxidized (or fermented tea).

Do you have a compost?  When you find yourself accidentally hoarding tea, you might not feel as guilty if you give it the opportunity to go back to its roots . . . or to nourish another plant’s roots.

Good Luck!

Alexa Teabauchery

Teabauchery herself.

Editor’s note: Dear Teabauchery will answer reader questions about every aspect of tea, dispensing well-researched – and often witty – advice! You may send your questions to teabauchery@tching.com

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