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Reine Des Prés Tisane from Les 2 Marmottes

SororiTEA Sisters - 2 hours 39 min ago

Tisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Tisane

Where to Buy:  Les 2 Marmottes

Tisane Description:

Draped her velvet dress and crowned with delicate flowers, it emerges from this plant a benevolent sovereign sweetness.  When she let them approach, it is possible to leap at his flowery fragrance . . . this is a sweet herbal notes to sing the melody of the long summer evenings.  

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I remembered meadowsweet was one of the ingredients in the Retour a La Ligne blend (also by Les 2 Marmottes), but I really can’t remember having a pure meadowsweet tisane as this is until now, so I was interested in trying it.  If nothing else, it expands my repertoire of herbs and their flavors.

So, I didn’t really know exactly what to expect from this tisane.  When I go into a tisane tasting like this – without any significant first hand knowledge of what the herb tastes like – I’m a little apprehensive (to say the least!) but I’m very happily surprised by this Reine Des Pres!  This is really quite tasty!

It’s a near perfect combination of flowery and herbaceous tastes.  I taste a pollen-y, delicate flowery taste, and I can taste herb-y flavors in there too.  But mostly what I taste is SWEET.  This is deliciously sweet, like honey!

I steeped the tea bag in 8 ounces of near boiling (195°F) water for 10 minutes, and the result is a golden amber colored liquid that smells sweet and a little bit like a meadow of wildflowers.  Now, I can’t say that I recall the last time I was in a meadow of wildflowers.  I can’t even say that I’ve ever been in a meadow of wildflowers except for maybe in my daydreams.  But on those days when I had those dreams, this is what I imagined that meadow of wildflowers to smell like.

Sweet, reminiscent of pollen, honey, and delicate hints of flower.  Notes of herb.  It’s really quite enjoyable to sip.  It feels quite soothing and relaxing.  And as I sit here, sipping this tisane, I wonder why it is that I’m only just now trying a pure infusion of meadowsweet.

How is it that this is an herb that escapes the notice of many a tea blender?  It’s quite delightful, and I think that more tea blenders should be adding this to their blends.  I can imagine how much more tasty it would make blends with some of my less than favorite herbs like ginseng or chamomile or hibiscus, and with it’s honeyed taste, I think it would amplify those honey notes of rooibos and honeybush.

I hope to find more teas and/or tisanes with meadowsweet in them … I’m enjoying this!

Jasmine Special Grade Green Tea from Simple Loose Leaf

SororiTEA Sisters - 14 hours 38 min ago

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Learn more about Simple Loose Leaf here.

Tea Description:

Enjoyed for centuries in China, Jasmine tea is an extremely popular scented tea. Special Grade Jasmine is a quality green tea with long, dark twisted leaves and sweet jasmine buds that produces a blonde liquor and delicate jasmine flavor. A delicious tea for any occasion.

Ingredients:  Jasmine Special Grade Green Tea

Learn more about this tea here.

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

Taster’s Review:

I think that August’s Selection Club box from Simple Loose Leaf is my favorite box yet!  Take a look at the selections that came with this box:  Lady Earl Grey (I mean … hey, if you’ve read very many of my reviews at all, you know that I’m all about the bergamot, right?), Blueberry White (I absolutely LOVED this and it’s phenomenal served iced!), Milk Oolong (Um … YUM!) and even the honeybush was really nice.  And now, I’m drinking Jasmine!  Yep, I love August’s box!

And I’m loving this Jasmine Green tea.  I steeped it in my gaiwan, starting with a 15 second rinse, and then I steeped the leaves for 45 seconds using 180°F water, and then I strained the liquid into my special Jasmine Yi Xing Mug.  I steeped the leaves four more times, adding 15 seconds onto each subsequent infusion, until my mug was full with yummy Jasmine goodness.

The flavor is sweet and delicate.  The jasmine notes are not aggressive, they are soft and exotic and sweetly floral.  These notes marry beautifully with the lush, lightly vegetative taste of the Chinese green tea.

The tea has a pleasant mouthfeel.  It’s smooth throughout the sip and dry toward the finish.  The aftertaste is sweet and lightly floral.  A really enjoyable Jasmine tea.

To learn how you can join the Selection Club, click here.  And don’t forget the coupon code for 25% savings.  Just type in SISTERSELECTION25 in the coupon field and save 25%!  This discount is applicable only to the monthly Selection Club subscription and not the retail selection of teas.

The Daily Tea: A Beginner's Guide to Green Tea

Tea For Me Please - 14 hours 39 min ago
+The Daily Tea and I are kicking off a series of tutorials for beginners with an article all about green tea. I'll be comparing eastern and western brewing methods. More articles will be following over the next few months about each category of tea. Check it out on their site now!
A Beginner's Guide to Green TeaWhat is your favorite type of green tea? Do you have a tip or trick that I missed? Let me know about it in the comments!{ "@context" : "http://schema.org", "@type" : "Review", "name" : "title", "author" : { "@type" : "Person", "name" : "Nicole Martin" }, "datePublished" : "date", "image" : "image url", "itemReviewed" : "item", "reviewBody" : "text", "url" : "http://www.teaformeplease.com" : { "@type" : "Organization", "name" : "Tea for Me Please" } }

Tea in the garden

T Ching - 18 hours 37 min ago

I love decorating magazines, architecture magazines, and gardening magazines.  If I had the extra time, I’d probably spend a lot of it sitting in my own backyard garden – matured like me over the years – familiar and comfortable,  drinking tea and looking at pictures of other people’s . . .  gardens that is, not tea.  Tea is what I’ll drink while doing it.

The kind of tea I choose depends not only on my mood, but on how the garden feels on any given day.  On hot days, I might choose a tall tumbler of iced Lavender Earl Grey, brewed gently to let the lavender take center stage, or maybe something citrusy like California lemons, an herbal with essential citrus oils.

On an often misty morning (sea breezes from the Pacific Ocean – an hour away – bring the mist), a hot cup of breakfast-friendly tea like Golden Yunnan, Darjeeling, or Irish Breakfast and a sweater, makes me feel slightly Anglophile. And on cool evenings, that coastal influence is back after a long sunny day, inviting a cinnamon-y choice, like Orange Spice.

This weekend, the yard has been impossible to ignore. It’s not whispering, it’s screaming to me: “Come out here . . . it’s such a waste to stay indoors with this golden sunlight and gentle, warm breeze.”   We planted a lot of small trees when we moved in –  more than 20 years ago – and now they’re a forest of shady giants, whose limbs enfold me in a visual and psychological embrace.  I sip the tea and let the simple things I love enfold and overwhelm my senses.

If I look one way, I’m staring into a montage of greenery with just the slightest peek at my long-time neighbor’s white lattice rose trellis; the other way at my kitchen garden.  I like to think about where all this ‘tea stuff’ is going while relaxing out there among my friendly plants and herbs.  The mossy old wall fountain trickles; the herbs in the planter Dad built for me give off wafts of mint and rosemary, and the SoCal sun bakes layers of fallen pine needles into a miniature forest of aromatic scent.

Today, I’m feeling torn.  I had one vision for the “tea stuff” over a decade ago and it’s morphed – without ever asking for my opinion or permission – into something very different at the present time:  technology (and an online business carried over from our retail store days).  However, technology – and business in general – feels somehow invasive.  I’m just resting my mind, enjoying nature . . . and the teas that got me started in this business.

The only push that brought me in to the computer was this T Ching post.  After I finish writing, I’ll need something to take back out there with me.   It’s still warm in the Southern California inland this mid-afternoon.  I think that Lavender Earl Grey, iced, sounds just about perfect.

 Loading and Image 1 courtesy of the author.

The post Tea in the garden appeared first on T Ching.

Caramel Banana flavored Honeybush Tisane from 52Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 09/01/2014 - 03:59

Tisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Honeybush

Where to Buy:  52Teas

Tisane Description:

One of the things I always love doing with our flavored teas is creating combinations that might be really messy or not look as pretty as something attempted in a real dessert.  Case in point, this week’s tea.  Caramel apples are abundant.  Everyone knows about caramel apples, but why couldn’t you have a caramel banana? I imagine it might be messy and probably the texture would be odd–chewy, gooey caramel on the outside of a sweet, ripe banana.  So maybe it wouldn’t be pretty and maybe the contrast of textures might be a bit odd, but I bet the flavors would be amazing.  In fact, I’m so sure of it, that I’ve gone ahead and created a caramel banana flavored tea for this week’s tea.  We combined caffeine-free organic honeybush, freeze-dried bananas, marigold petals and organic caramel and banana flavors.

Learn more about this tisane here.

Taster’s Review:

This tisane smells pretty amazing.  Caramel Banana?  YUM!

And it tastes even better than it smells!  Wow!  The honeybush adds just the right amount of honeyed, nutty flavor.  I love the way the honey notes meld with the caramel flavor.  I’ve only had honey caramels a couple of times (here’s one of my favorite honey caramel confections) but those few experiences with honey caramel has left a very memorable impression.  And I love the way the sweet, honey-esque notes of the honeybush marry with the luscious caramel tones of this tisane.

I love the idea of a caramel banana.  This should be a candy that someone comes up with, like instead of peanut butter cups, how about caramel banana cups.  Make like a creamy banana caramel custard with a thick ribbon of gooey caramel on top, and the whole thing is “cupped” in a dark chocolate cup.  Or milk chocolate.  I’d need to try both to figure out which tastes better.  The top of the chocolate cup would be sprinkled in chopped almonds for a little bit of texture and maybe just a little bit of “salty” to go with the sweet.  Does that sound amazing or what?  I should work in the idea department of a candy company.

But I really like my “job” as a tea reviewer.  I love trying new teas and tisanes, and it’s because of genius flavors like this.  The banana is sweet and tastes amazing with the flavors of nutty, honey-sweet honeybush and indulgent, creamy caramel.  Completely and totally yum!

This is delicious hot and it’s also really good as the tisane cools – it would make a great iced tea.  To brew it, I used 195°F water and let it steep for 10 minutes.  Remember, with honeybush, you don’t have to worry about it becoming bitter because of oversteeping, because it doesn’t have the tannins that Camellia Sinensis has … so you can steep it longer and get a lot of flavor out of the steep.

A brilliant cuppa!

Whole Leaf Green Tea with Essence of Citrus and Pomegranate from Eden Grove

SororiTEA Sisters - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 16:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Amazon Trading

Ingredients:

Green tea with natural citrus & pomegranate flavors.

Learn more about Amazon Trading here.

Taster’s Review:

When I read the name of this tea, I was pretty sure I’d enjoy it – I like citrus flavors in tea and I like pomegranate teas, so I felt pretty confident that this tea would be one I liked.

And it’s alright.  I’m getting a fair amount of both flavor profiles, I can taste the bright and tangy notes of citrus fruit and I can taste the sweet-tart notes of pomegranate.

The green tea is a smooth, buttery green tea.  The citrus notes are present throughout the sip, and I find that the citrus flavors are especially nice in this cup.  It’s a very lilting sort of taste that lingers into the aftertaste.  The pomegranate is a little softer in taste and seems strongest right toward the tail of the sip.  I like that little burst of flavor that I get from the pomegranate.

Overall, it’s an enjoyable cup.

Pick Me Up Peach White Tea Blend from Inca Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 03:59

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  White

Where to Buy:  Inca Tea

Tea Description:

Being our first caffeinated blend we wanted it to embody a refreshing yet clean taste. Its a rejuvenating combination of white tea, lush peaches and sweet herbs.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Ah!  Peaches!  As soon as I tore into the pouch holding the pyramid sachet of this Pick Me Up Peach White Tea, the aroma of peach filled the room!  The fragrance is very abundantly PEACH!

And the taste is also very abundantly peach.  Sweet, luscious peach – which is perfect for this time of year when the peaches are in season.  YUM!  The peach flavor is sweet and true to the fruit.  It doesn’t taste like an artificial or even a candied peach flavor.

But this blend also has hibiscus and rose hips in it, and it should come as no surprise to those of you who read this blog regularly that hibiscus is not my favorite herbal.  I’m wishing that the hibiscus just wasn’t there.  Yeah, it adds a hint of tartness which is a nice contrast to the sweet peach notes, and because of the hibiscus the brewed tea is a beautiful ruby color.  And as long as it’s not steeped too long, it doesn’t have a syrupy consistency.  (I steeped this for 4 minutes at 170°F.)

However, I do feel like the hibiscus and rose hips do interfere a bit with the delivery of the white tea flavor.  It seems a little masked by everything else that’s going on in this blend.  White tea is delicate, and these strong herbal flavors really shouldn’t be in a white tea blend.

I don’t taste much of the white tea.  I taste a slight airy, earthy quality that is distinctly white tea, but because of the hibiscus, I’m missing some of the softer textures that I enjoy with a white tea.  I’m also missing some of those sweet fruit notes that I believe would meld beautifully with the peach flavors.

 The purple corn adds a slight “warm grain” sort of flavor that is quite appealing, and I am enjoying.  The apple is not a strong note here, and I suspect it is part of this blend for it’s sweetness rather than to provide a strong apple-y flavor.  And that’s what I’m getting from it.

Overall, this IS tasty, but I think it could be so much better without the hibiscus.  I feel like the hibiscus overpowers the white tea.  But I love the peach notes, and I like the purple corn.  It’s a different kind of flavor that I’m not used to tasting in tea and I like it.  It’s not an invasive flavor and I like how it complements the other flavors of this cup.

Refreshing Citrus Rose Tea Punch recipe

The Hour For Tea - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 01:42
Labor Day may be the unofficial “end of summer” but it’s not the end of the hot weather here in San Jose!  Cooling, refreshing drinks are still necessary to survive the warmth, especially for those of us who live in … Continue reading →

Lady Earl Grey Black Tea Blend from Simple Loose Leaf

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 08/30/2014 - 16:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Learn more about Simple Loose Leaf here.

Tea Description:

Our very popular Earl Grey blend of citrus bergamot over an extraordinary Nilgiri Black Tea with the added indulgence of Vanilla. This mouthwatering combination is the perfect invigorating treat. For the famed “London Fog” effect, add steamed milk and enjoy a smooth and creamy delight.

Ingredients:  South Indian Flower Orange Pekoe Black Tea, Earl Grey Flavor, Vanilla Flavor, Cornflowers

Learn more about this tea here.

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

Taster’s Review:

How awesome is this?  Lady Earl Grey in the Selection Club box for August.  If I wasn’t already in love with these boxes from Simple Loose Leaf, they would have had me at this tea!

When I first saw the name of this tea – Lady Earl Grey – I thought that it might be a bergamot flavored black tea with either Lavender or Rose added.  It wasn’t until I opened the pouch and smelled the tea and could immediately recognize the aroma of the vanilla that I knew that this was a Creme style Earl Grey.  The vanilla is very well pronounced in the fragrance of the tea and this translates to the flavor.

I brewed this in my Breville One-Touch by pouring 500 ml of freshly filtered water into the jug, and then scooping out two bamboo scoops full of the fragrant loose leaf tea and putting it in the basket of the tea maker.  I set the tea maker for 212°F and the timer for 2 1/2 minutes.  This produced two cups of perfectly brewed tea!  (Have I mentioned lately that I love my Breville One-Touch?  Everyone should have one of these!)

This is one of the nicer creme Earl Grey teas that I’ve tried in a while.  The bergamot is strong and flavorful, but the sharp edges of the Italian orange is softened beautifully with the vanilla notes.  It’s so delightfully creamy and smooth!

The black tea base is nicely round and has a malty tone to it.  I like how the malt-like flavors of the black tea marries with the vanilla flavors to create an almost caramel-esque flavor that is positively delectable.  The black tea is an invigorating, full-flavored black tea.  I like that it’s good and strong and isn’t overwhelmed by the flavors of bergamot and vanilla.

The bergamot is pleasantly strong.  It’s not the strongest bergamot flavor that I’ve experienced from an Earl Grey tea, but, it’s by no means weak or lacking in any way, in my opinion.  It’s balanced well with the notes of vanilla so that these two components are not competing with one another, but working very harmoniously with each other, making for a heavenly cup of tea!

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.

LACMA - 17th century French Porcelain Manufactory

The Tea Horse Road - Sat, 08/30/2014 - 07:00
Tea and coffee service in France and Europe began with popularity with the import of tea and coffee in the beginning of the 17th century.
They were widely served in a mobile style.
Venues were budoirs, salons, or even in the garden.
These mobile tea service were called dejeuners.
They were brought in and served upon a tray.


Tepot with over, and Cup and Saucer and Tray
circa 1775

Vincennes Porcelain Manufactory
France 1740-1756
Soft Porcelain with glaze and gilding


The Sevres Porcelain Manufactory was founded in 1756.
This service comprises of a pair of cups and saucers, teapot, milk jug (not in photo), and a sugar bowl (see picture below.)


Component parts of tea service always varied according to the personal preferences of the owner.
These motives of pheasants and a Europeanized landscape of the Oriental motive was derived from the illustrations of Jean-Baptiste Oudry - 1686-1755.
He was a French artist of the Rococo period - painter, engraver and tapestry designer.


Sevres porcelain Manufactory
circa 1786
Porcelain with enamel, gilding and glaze.

Blueberry Banana Flavored Iced Tea from Southern Boy Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 08/30/2014 - 03:59

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  52Teas

Learn more about Southern Boy Teas here.

Taster’s Review:

Mmm!  This iced tea is tasty!

I really like the combination of blueberry and banana.  The blueberry is the top note.  It is sweet with a pleasant level of tartness – not too sour or tart, I’m not puckering … but there’s just enough tartness to add a little bit of contrast.  The banana is more like an undertone.  It’s consistently there throughout the sip, from start to finish, but it isn’t a loud or aggressive flavor.  Then again, banana isn’t usually a loud or aggressive flavor, is it?

It’s a sweet banana flavor, but I’m not getting the “candy-ish” banana flavor that I often get from the Southern Boy Teas/52Teas banana flavored blends.  It tastes sweet but it doesn’t taste like banana runts.

I’m not a big fan of banana runts, so I consider this a good thing.  I like the other runts in the package, but I’m always passing the banana runts over to my daughter, who loves them.

The blueberry flavor perks up the blend, adding it’s own “brightness” to the glass.  Sweet with just a hint of berry tarty tingle at the finish.  Yum!

The black tea is not overwhelmed by these flavors, either.  It’s a brisk yet smooth tasting black tea base.  The three flavors – black tea, banana and blueberry – work together very well to create a pleasantly sweet, refreshing iced tea.  I like this blend.  I can see myself getting more of this one in the future.

Nepal 2nd Flush 2014 Cannon Ball Green Tea from What-Cha Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 16:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  What-Cha Tea

Tea Description:

A unique tightly rolled green tea with a citrus nose and well defined lemon blossom taste, a rare and unusual tea which is not to be missed.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

These leaves look very unusual, looking like the pellets of a Tie Guan Yin Oolong, but the leaves are not quite as large.  The pellets are not uniform in size, some are quite small, while others are rather large.  They have a vegetal aroma to them.

Since they looked to me like they’d be fun to watch unfurl, I decided to brew them in my glass teacup (the same one I use to watch a flowering tea bulb brew).  The first infusion proved to be rather … lacking in show, to be quite honest.  The leaves didn’t unfurl very much at all.  But they did produce a very flavorful liquid after steeping for 2 minutes in 180°F water.

Nice!  The tea is sweet, with a nice, buttery texture and a light flavor.  Notes of citrus, flower and hints of vegetation.  The citrus is especially noticeable toward the finish and this bright flavor lingers into the aftertaste.   By the time I made it to mid-cup, I started to notice more buttery flavors than citrus and flower, the flavor becomes smoother as it cools.

This is what the leaves looked like after the first infusion. Still some unfurling to do!

Since the leaves hadn’t really opened up much with that first infusion, I decided to have another infusion and see if I would get more of a tea leaf dance from the leaves that were still looking more like tightly wound pellets.

During the second infusion, the leaves didn’t do much.  Oh, they’ve unfurled quite a bit more, but they don’t really do much of a dance that I had hoped for.  But that’s alright, the flavor is well worth the lack of showmanship.  (Showteaship?  Showleafship?)  When they infused this time, it looked a lot like a seaweed garden at the bottom of the sea – not a lot of activity, just the motion of the water just barely causing the leaves to sway a little.

But as I said, the flavor is well worth what little show the leaves provide.  After steeping for 2 1/2 minutes, the flavor is sweet with notes of tangy citrus and whispers of flower.  I don’t taste as much buttery taste or texture this time, and the vegetal notes have emerged, offering a savory quality to the cup which contrasts with the aforementioned sweetness.  As the cup cools a little, the buttery flavors are more discernible, but they are still considerably lighter than with the first cup.

This cup is a little more astringent than the first too.  I didn’t notice a lot of astringency with the first cup, only the slight tangy note toward the finish that melded with the citrus-y notes that it barely seemed astringent at all.  Now, there is a distinct separation between the citrus flavors and the astringency.  This is still what I’d consider a mild to moderate astringency.

I decided to try a third infusion.  With this third infusion, the leaves are now completely unfurled.  I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes.  The flavor is amazing.  I think that this third cup is my favorite of the three!  It is soft and buttery.  The astringency I noted in the second cup has smoothed out.  The citrus tones have also become softer and sweeter, reminiscent now of a citrus curd rather than a bright splash of fruit.  The floral notes are not as sharp and the vegetative tones less focused, creating instead a very unified flavor that is very palatable.

While this Nepal 2nd Flush 2014 Cannon Ball Green Tea from What-Cha Tea shares many common characteristics with other green teas, I find it to be a truly unique green tea in ways that should be experienced by the tea connoisseur to be fully appreciated.  It’s a remarkable tea, one I really enjoyed and am thrilled that I had the opportunity to try.

Onward, Upward and Outward

Tea For Me Please - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 16:00
Life has been a bit crazy for the last few months. While I've managed to keep the blog going I've been worried about not being able to give it my all. For those of you who don't already know, I am no longer the manager at Tea Drunk. I won't go into the nitty gritty here so let's just say that I learned a lot. While searching for a new career move, I interviewed with quite a few different tea companies. That was definitely an interesting experience. Could you believe that one company didn't hire me because I didn't look alternative enough? Too bad I still haven't gotten that tea tattoo I wanted!

In the end I accepted a position as an assistant manager at David's Tea. This surprised some tea friends but at the end of the day, I'm still doing what I love. I get to drink tea all day while helping New Yorker's discover their love for the leaf. My location is the Chelsea store (in case you want to help me out with some extra sales, lol). It's been a great experience so far and I am looking forward to growing with them as they rapidly expand here in the U.S. What's even better is that I am finally starting to get some work/life balance back. I had forgotten what weekends felt like!

In case all of that change wasn't crazy enough, I'm also moving in with my boyfriend this week. I'm not sure he's completely prepared to live with used leaves in the sink and tea gear everywhere but that will come eventually. All kidding aside, he's very supportive of my tea habit so I'm a lucky girl. I'm excited to finally be able to display my teaware properly. I'll be sure to post pictures once I've got everything set up. I'm also really happy that I'll now have a futon of my own for passing tea friends to crash on when they are visiting New York City.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed on this site are my own and do not necessary reflect the views of DAVIDs TEA.
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Back seven: entertaining guests with tea

T Ching - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 12:01

When my wife and I have guests at our home, serving tea is a part of our tradition and something that requires a bit of thinking ahead. As overzealous hosts we often prepare meals in courses (and always too much). It is usually right before desserts that a mini dilemma would set in: What tea to serve and how?

In our home, desserts are almost always accompanied with tea. I generally am not in the habit of offering my guests any digestif or dessert wines, though should the mood strike I always have a ready supply. Tea is still my – and my wife’s – preference after a hearty meal.

Since we have banished teabags from our home, and since I have gifted – or burdened – myself with many types of loose leaves, the act of serving tea has become a bit more complicated than shoving a box of Twining’s Variety Pack on the table. As such, there are four considerations that I think about before deciding the most appropriate action. Do keep in mind the setting is a casual gathering with friends and family, and not a tea tasting session:

Firstly, how many guests are present? If more than six people are to be served, then our 32oz teapress gets the job. The tea that goes in it will be something that I keep in quantity. These are decent teas, but they are not among the best I own (may the Gods of Graceful Hosts strike me in anger!). By habit and personal preference, I only brew my best teas in a Yixing clay pot or a gaiwan. With too many guests present, however, I rarely find it worth the hassle to start a gongfu tea process.

If there are six or fewer people, then I would consider bringing out my treasured teas and accoutrements. It all depends on a few other factors.

Secondly, what are we conversing about? This is as important as the first consideration above. If we are in a very engaging conversation, then the large teapress still wins the assignment (exception: if the guests are gongfu tea drinkers – see the 3rd consideration below). However, if we are talking about Britney Spears, Donald Trump’s hair or other mind-degenerating topics, then my fantastic tea and utensils may just get to rescue the day.

Thirdly, to gongfu or not? With guests who are not acclimated with this Chinese tea ritual, I would hint to them of the possibility for a tea tasting. The process tends pull everyone’s attention and topic of conversation towards itself. It is a great way to enjoy tea, but I feel the ritualistic and meditative qualities it projects do not suit all occasions.

To those who know about my little tea obsession already, I would unabashedly offer them the pleasure. The narcissist in me always wants to get the tea set out; especially if the guests admitted to never paying much attention to the tea they drink. But the realist in me checks to make sure that I am not about to impose upon anyone or to unnecessarily shift the overall mood of our gathering.

Lastly, what tea to serve with the desserts? There is no simple answer for me because, as I mentioned above, there are many types to choose from. I believe the desserts being served should play as the main anchor. With heavy tasting desserts such as tiramisu, creme brulée and chocolate cakes, I would gravitate towards a heavier tasting tea (“nong xiang” – highly oxidized, may be roasted) to match like Red Keemun, Lapsang Souchong or highly roasted Wuyi and Tieguanyin oolongs. With fruity desserts such as fruit tarts, key lime pie and Pavlova, I would opt for Darjeelings, lychee red or highly oxidized oolongs such as Oriental Beauty and Taiwanese “hong shui” (red water). I would accompany fresh fruits and the lightest desserts with greener oolong’s (“qing xiang”, low-oxidized and non-roasted) that have sweet, delicate floral and grassy notes. White, green, and Pu’er (raw and cooked) teas are not considered to accompany desserts, as I think they are best by themselves.

There is no formulaic method with which to arrive at a decision, although the four considerations mentioned above are what I generally think about before I serve tea to my guests. Call me anal.

As with foods and drinks, of course, preferences are exclusively personal, and mine is derived from the mental notes I have gathered through pairing things out experimentally. There are no rules, which make the whole process much fun for the hedonists among us. My main objective is to bring about the most enjoyable setting for everyone sitting around our dining table.

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Back Seven: on Fridays, T Ching is delighted to publish a post from our archives. Today’s feature was first published on the blog on August 27, 2007 — seven years ago. We at T Ching are sure you will agree that the observations and advice shared by Mr. Sheng are pertinent today.  Watch this space each week for a look Back Seven.

The post Back seven: entertaining guests with tea appeared first on T Ching.

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.

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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!

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