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Product Review: Aspen Tea Infuser Mug from Grosche

SororiTEA Sisters - 4 hours 1 min ago

Being a tea addict, I love my teaware almost as much as the tea itself. There is something about getting a new mug or a new teapot and adding the piece to your collection.  I already have a few Grosche pieces in my collection but I have to say, this is one of my favorites! The Aspen Tea Infuser Mug is the perfect answer to steeping loose leaf tea at work! Let’s start with the Read More

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#FanaticFriday: Timey Wimey Tea from Because UR Priceless

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 08/26/2016 - 23:00

Being a HUGE Whovian, I couldn’t wait to check this blend out- Timey Wimey from BecauseURpriceless instantly impressed me. The packaging was superb and I loved the whole look of the tea itself.  Pops of bright blue on a bed of black tea and little sparks of light orange. But as I mentioned in my earlier post today, I had some hesitation because  . .earl grey blends and I have not been the bestest of Read More

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Friday Round Up: August 21st and August 27th

Tea For Me Please - Fri, 08/26/2016 - 16:00
Announcing Tea-spiration: My First Book + Pre-order
I'd like to send a big round of applause and congratulations to +Lu Ann Pannunzio. She's releasing her first book. How awesome is that!

Compression and Storage - Why It Matters
Guy with a Gaiwan wrote a great post explaining the importance of compression when it comes to aging puerh tea. This is a subject that often doesn't get much attention but it definitely deserves further exploration.

No-Churn Green Tea Ice Cream
Sometimes I daydream about getting an ice cream maker so that I can make all of the green tea ice cream my heart desires. +Bonnie Eng came up with this dangerously delicious no-churn recipe so I may just get me wish soon.

Tea Processing Chart
+Tony Gebely's tea processing chart is a resource I often refer others to. In this updated version he's changed oolong to wulong and clarified some of the steps. I highly recommend checking it out!

Tasting: Emerald Spring Green Tea from Nepali Tea Traders
+sara shacket discovered a gem of a green tea from one of my favorite Nepalese tea vendors. I love her vivid descriptions of this tea. I can almost taste it myself!

Blast from the Past: Shincha vs. Sencha

T Ching - Fri, 08/26/2016 - 12:30

Shincha translates literally as “new tea.”  It is the first harvest of the year in Japan and is a highly prized representation of spring.  Sencha translates as “brewing tea” and, for most of the year, is the de facto standard against which the quality of Japanese green teas is measured.  While the Chinese characters for these two teas look completely different, when you verbalize their names, it’s possible to mishear and assume they are the same tea.  Let’s start with some disambiguation.

Shincha is often considered first flush tea from Japan.  The term “first flush” was popularized in Darjeeling, India to market a lighter, greener black tea that was produced to expand and increase the yearly production levels.  Often, the first one hundred or so lots of tea are considered first flush.  Therefore, “first flush” is a much more appropriate label for sencha than shincha, which is only comprised of the very first harvest of tea from any given plantation.  Some producers in Japan will call shincha “ichibancha,” or “number one tea.”  While this title is certainly accurate, it is somewhat confusing since first-grade, summer-picked tea is also called ichibancha (they even use the same characters).  To add even more layers, different regions in Japan further categorize shincha for the very first picking into ichibantori, obashiri, and hashiri (the last two are different readings of the same characters).  More confusion regarding the shincha name comes from the production of “Japanese-style” teas from South America.  You’ll often find shincha from these regions in October and November and since shincha is not a protected, region-specific term (like Japanese tea as opposed to “Japanese-style” tea) it’s used to label these teas as well.

In terms of the character and flavor profiles, you’ll hear a lot of comparisons between sencha and shincha ranging from lighter to much stronger, more astringent to more mellow, and best in the first brew to easier to drink in the second.  The truth is that shinchas vary according to terrior and production methods, just as senchas do.  The biggest and most defining difference between shincha and sencha is that shinchas are picked at the very beginning of the season and are steamed, rolled, and dried to completion before being shipped out for immediate enjoyment.  Senchas go through the same process, but the drying is halted before the very last step.  In addition, shincha is stored in a rough form called “aracha” until it is sold at auction and is ready for packaging.  Some retailers even prefer to conduct the final drying (called “shiage”) themselves.

This article was originally posted to TChing in August of 2011.

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#FanaticFriday: Rose and The Doctor from Pinch of Geek

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 08/26/2016 - 11:00

I will admit it. This tea had me at the name alone. Rose and The Doctor. And with a tea company name like Pinch of Geek, seriously-I was in love. But when the blend arrived at my door, I realized this was a earl grey tea and lavender mix- my heart sank a bit. (I’m not a huge fan of earl grey or lavender teas) But I put on my BIG  girl pants and prepped Read More

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William Shakespeare’s Black Tea Blend from Simpson & Vail

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 08/25/2016 - 23:00

This tea sample didn’t have ingredients on it, so I took a moment to think about what a Shakespeare tea might taste like. Probably gloomy, I thought. Murky and sad and full of suicide. It’d taste like the rocks Ophelia put in her pockets, or the river she drowned in. It’d taste like the blood that wouldn’t leave Lady Macbeth’s hands. It’d taste like Skylock’s pound of flesh; shards from Yorick’s skull in Hamlet’s sweaty Read More

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Yixing inventory #8: Tiehuaxuan Jiangji

A Tea Addict's Journal - Thu, 08/25/2016 - 16:16

This pot is one of the ones I use most heavily. I got this for a song because its handle was glued back on, but the gluing job was obviously very well done and there’s been no problem. The lion is quite detailed. The pot is stamped “tiehuaxuan zhi”. Tiehuaxuan is the name of a company during the Republican period making yixing pots, specializing especially in smaller pots (lion or shuiping) that have calligraphy and carving on them, like this one. They also make whole sets including pitchers and cups, but those get expensive. The seal under the lid is “Jiangji” referring, probably, to the maker Jiang Anqing who is known for making lion pots. 115ml.

Finally…Good Tea in Food Service

T Ching - Thu, 08/25/2016 - 12:30

How many times has the subject of really lousy tea in hotels, restaurants, and other foodservice venues come up here at TChing?  It has been a huge problem in the public’s perception of tea and, finally, there appears to be real hope on the horizon.  I only know of Scott Shivula through our LinkedIn connection and a couple of exchanged emails, but he was with China Mist Tea for some time and now does specialty tea consulting to foodservice. I highly suggest reading this interview of him.

With this awakening of tea’s value in foodservice, the timing couldn’t be better for our commercial by-the-cup loose tea brewer, it turns out.  After years of working on the best presentation and technology, we are closing in, and our engineer is “tying up loose ends” as I write.  I know there are some who feel traditional steeping of tea is the best and/or only way to go, and I respect their feelings on the subject, but we believe otherwise.

In fact, having used the prototype here at home and having to give it up  for some time now while the engineer tweaks and retweaks, I have missed it immensely, not only for its’ convenience but for the taste as well.  It just plain brews loose tea and herbals better than traditional steeping results.

Michelle Rabin has said I must be an incredibly patient person, but that is far from the truth.  It’s become an incredibly long journey.  I’ve quit giving timelines.  But I believe it will help change the way foodservice prepares tea, taking out much of human error because I believe it’s just as difficult to train busy foodservice workers proper loose tea preparation and have them do it consistently as it is to brew really great coffee or pull fabulous espresso shots without proper equipment.  No one seems to believe coffee should not be prepared in any way other than pour-overs (which are much less than perfect).  Tea purists are welcome to brew their tea in the purest way they feel possible.  But I’m digressing and my passion coming to the surface yet again,  so if you disagree, let’s discuss it here.

Back to tea in restaurants:  Scott and others are teaching foodservice preparers of tea the proper way to treat it, as well as educating operators on the tea itself.  It has become a great profit center and its less invasive taste profile, as compared to coffee, allows it to be used in a multitude of dishes and beverages, including cocktails.  We here have all proclaimed its wonderful versatility and attributes, but it’s been so hard to convince restaurants that they need to give it more billing, more space on the menu and treat it with respect.  In business, it’s ‘show me the money’.  And so, tea has to.

The profit margins high-end establishments are getting for quality tea offerings is stellar.  Tea lovers are obviously willing to pay the price for specialty tea, as much as specialty coffee has commanded for some time.  For example (from the article) “At The Cafe at LeFlour in Chicago, nitro chai tea on tap is the brand new sensation for tea drinkers, priced at $3.95 for a 10-ounce glass.”

Yes, matcha, nitro, and cold brew are the new hot buttons.  Hopefully, as time progresses and interest in loose tea continues to grow, we will see consumers move into the oolongs, puerhs and white teas that are still lagging behind in public popularity, but are so much a part of the full tea experience.

So, I’m thankful for progress, aren’t you?  Much to the chagrin of the naysayers, tea will have its day in the sun and I believe as more and more people experience it in better and better presentations, tea will certainly become as popular in this U.S. culture as coffee has been for so many years.

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The post Finally…Good Tea in Food Service appeared first on T Ching.

Fruity (Sijichun) Oolong Tea from Fong Mong Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 08/25/2016 - 11:00

Fruity (Sijichun) Oolong Tea from Fong Mong Tea is a really interesting oolong to pull a part flavor-wise.  Sure their are fruity notes but at the beginning I could pick up very gentle and subtle charcoal hints as well.  It’s crisp, clean, mouth-watering, thirst-quenching, sweet, even a bit floral, and delightful! Fong Mong Tea has always been one of my top companies for various oolongs and this one didn’t disappoint.  It’s incredible and I highly Read More

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Tea Processing Chart

World of Tea - Thu, 08/25/2016 - 10:33

Tea processing is the most important quantifier when determining or producing a tea type. Green tea, yellow tea, white tea, wulong tea, black tea and post-fermented teas all begin as fresh Camellia sinensis leaves and go through different processing steps. While there are an infinite number of variations that result in an infinite number of tea styles, the same underlying processing methodologies largely define the tea’s type.

There are many tea processing charts that attempt to accurately depict the tea process, but many of them add unnecessary levels of complexity, or skip steps. The goal here was to depict very general processes that all tea styles within a particular type would fit into.

This chart outlines the minimum steps that fresh tea leaves must go through to be considered a tea of a specific category.

I believe that it is important to begin with an overly simplified and correct processing chart and add details later on. This is the most efficient and beneficial way to teach tea.

Feel free to challenge any part of this and to share it, just please link to this webpage. If you find this interesting, be sure to check out my posts on some of these individual processing steps: withering, oxidation, and kill green and drying.

Download Tea Processing chart [PDF] [PNG] [Latest Revision: 8/24/2016]

Tea Processing Chart by Tony Gebely is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at worldoftea.org.

 

Cranberry Immune Booster from Tea Drift

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 08/24/2016 - 23:00

Cranberry Immune Booster from Tea Drift is one that I didn’t just want to brew up the normal way. With the huge twisting hibiscus leaves and the gorgeous dried fruit pieces, this tea screamed-brew me up and make me a shaken iced tea. And that is exactly what I did. Brewed the tea up with water prepped at 212F and allowed to steep for about 5 minutes, this brew didn’t turn out to be that Read More

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Teavivre 2016 Organic Tian Mu Mao Feng

Tea For Me Please - Wed, 08/24/2016 - 16:00
Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: twisted and curled, deep green
Ingredients: green tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 195 degrees
Preparation Method: glass gaiwan
Liquor: pale yellow/green

+TeaVivre just might hold the title for most reviewed company on this blog. This is the 38th review! One of my favorite things about them is the consistently good quality tea that won't break the bank. They also carry a huge variety of Chinese teas from several regions. This is the third Mao Feng that I've written about but all three have been from different locations.

Tian Mu is the name of the mountain where this tea is grown and it translates as eyes on heaven. That's a romantic name for a tea if I ever heard one! There are pools on east and west peak of Tian Mu that look like eyes watching the sky. The farm that produced this tea is certified organic. While this aspect isn't a deal breaker for me, it is nice to know that I don't need to worry about pesticides.

The taste was very light and refreshing with a clean, lingering sweetness. There was a fairly thick mouthfeel with just the right amount of astringency. If you'd like a bit less of that mouth-puckering feeling, I would recommend lowering your water temperature to about 175 degrees. The second infusion brought piney notes that were really cooling, especially on a hot summer day. Later brews were a bit more savory and brothy but just as tasty.

Having tried it in both a gaiwan and using western brewing methods, I can safely say that this tea is very versatile. I do think I prefer the more concentrated taste of gongfu style steepings but that is something that really comes down to personal preference. At less than $0.15 per gram, this is very affordable Mao Feng while still being organic and high quality.

2016 Organic Tian Mu Mao Feng sample provided for review by Teavivre.



Mint To Be Together from For Tea’s Sake

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 08/24/2016 - 14:00

At first glance, this tea sounds stellar-a combo of different mints and lemon peel.  Sounds refreshing and so inviting. When I opened the pouch, I was greeted with a fresh feel to the tea. For Tea’s Sake is one that I stumbled upon after lunch with my parents at a neighboring town. I couldn’t resist grabbing 4 different kinds of their loose leaf tea to try. Brewed up with fresh water at 212F and allowed Read More

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The Best Kept Secret for Boosting Inferior Leaves

T Ching - Wed, 08/24/2016 - 12:34

 

 

Before I launch into how to become a Blend Meister in your own right, I want to say congratulations to the entire team and fellow bloggers here on T-Ching for scoring Best Blog and being nominated for Best Social Media Reach at The World Tea Expo! You have dazzled the world by capturing the hearts and imagination of tea sippers everywhere. I’m deeply humbled to sit in your company, contributing my little bit from the tea fields in Kyushu.

As shincha season has come and gone, we are now in the dog days of summer… the trickiest time for tea in Japan. Tricky because the intense moisture in the air zaps all freshness from the precious steamed leaves if they aren’t stored and handled correctly.

We get heaps of tea at the café given to us from farmers bestowing their latest and greatest. And when a tea farmer comes up offering their prized leaves, we simply have to steep a pot. This results in a bit of a stockpile as you can imagine!

We also receive quite a range in quality: amazing tea is not easy to make if the quality is not there, and the more samples we try from around Japan, the more aware of this we become.

The truth is, there’s a fair bit of ordinary stuff out there.

So when the leaves are a bit past their sell-by date, have been moisturized, or just aren’t that fabulous in the first place, what to do?!

Enter the Holly (or insert your name) Blend!

In a nutshell, I “spike” inferior leaves with a stronger, fresher batch.

My preferred source of magic comes from either a fresh Gyokuro or a Kabusecha. Ratio-wise I’m talking about 70% old/flat-tasting to 30% fresh. When using Gyokuro, the blend ratio might be as little as 10% to 90% dodgy leaves. Using Gyokuro presents a slight issue because of the water temperature and longer steeping time. Simply adjust by lowering the temperature to about 70ºC – not all the way to 55ºC (131ºF) and steep it for about 90 to 120 seconds or until you see enough of the leaves open up.

On a side note, reading the leaves is something most folks simply don’t do with Japanese tea. It’s much easier with a fabulous full red-crested high mountain oolong from Taiwan! Japanese leaves are tiny in comparison and sometimes resemble mush so it’s hard to know when the steeping is complete. Keep reading and the better you will become!

The reason home blending is such a secret is because we often feel the Master producer knows best and it’s not our place to interfere with what the “experts” say. So we tend to take their word at face value. But why shouldn’t we have an opinion and a play?!

Blending your own Japanese tea leaves can open a whole new world of flavors. I rarely do this with exquisite, artisan tea because in such cases the farmer is essentially already doing it for us. But for older or slightly ordinary leaves, you can start to explore a myriad of different sensations.

Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t always go to plan! I’ve had some instances when the blend goes south, turning flat-tasting tea into an outright bubbling Hogwarts brew! But when you hit the jackpot you’ll have both the benefits of a unique, interesting, maybe even delicious beverage plus the warm glow of satisfaction at your own handy work!

N.B. this technique is not for old Matcha! If your ceremonial Matcha has been open for longer than a month, rather than trying to fix it with fresh Matcha, simply start adding it to smoothies!

The post The Best Kept Secret for Boosting Inferior Leaves appeared first on T Ching.

Passion Peach Tea from Teavery

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 08/23/2016 - 23:00

Our Thoughts: Passion Peach Tea from Teavery surely SMELLED peachy and even TASTED peachy…but…I was surprised to learn that this loose leaf contained orange peel AND elderberry which I think were both nice additions.  I think I can taste the orange peel as much as the peach flavor.  It gives it a bitterness to even out the sweetness.  There is a bit of rooibos in this mix, too, which helps with the sweetness as well. Read More

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Illustrated Recipe: Summer is Tealicious

T Ching - Tue, 08/23/2016 - 12:30

As you’ve probably gathered from my last two posts on TChing, I’m on mission to explore different ways to enjoy cold or frozen tea.  I really love TEAsicles and I adore Chai tea, so I’ve created Chai TEAsicles!

It’s best to create the Chai on cooler days as you will need the stove. I made them in between a recent heat wave.  Chai tea is perfect for TEAsicles and the spices, the aroma, and the taste make it a TEAlicious way to beat the summer heat.

Chai TEAsicles

  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 6 whole cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon whole black or pink peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon loose Assam tea
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar (optional)
  • 1 cup of coconut milk

Place cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger, peppercorns and 0.7 liters (3 cups) water into a small pot and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to steep for 10 minutes.

Return pot to the heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, add Assam tea, cover and set aside to steep for 3 to 5 minutes. Strain with a fine mesh sieve, then return the strained liquid to the pot. Stir in coconut milk and heat over low heat for 1 minute. Let this stand for 10 minutes. Then pour this TEAlicious liquid into your popsicle moulds. You can make Chai ice cubes too and for a twist make small TEAsicles by inserting small sticks into the partially frozen ice cubes.  Freeze TEAsicles for 2 – 4 hours.

Note: Dark melted chocolate and caramel make a fabulous garnish for your popsicles. Dip the frozen popsicles into the melted chocolate or caramel sauce, then place the TEAsicles back in the freezer for 1 hour.

Interested in individually designed tea reviews? Weaving compelling visual stories for social media is a passion of mine. I love creating immersive illustrated reviews that awaken people to tea and culture. If you desire an illustrated review to engage your followers, please contact me.

The post Illustrated Recipe: Summer is Tealicious appeared first on T Ching.

Lemon-Lime Meringue Kukicha Green Tea from 52Teas (plus an experiment!)

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 08/23/2016 - 11:00

Our Sister’s Thoughts: Lemon-Lime Meringue Kukicha Green Tea from 52Teas.  Just thinking about this tea makes your mouth water. I loved the original blend from 52Teas and honestly still have some. So I thought it was time to revisit the re-blend that was created earlier in the year. First impressions-this tea has crisp tangy citrus notes that are crying to be a shaken iced tea. So that is exactly what I did. I actually experimented Read More

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Yixing inventory #7: Gongju

A Tea Addict's Journal - Tue, 08/23/2016 - 07:04

Yes, another one. These seals are pretty common although they come in different shapes and sizes. 150ml.

Pina Colada Green Tea Blend from Bruu Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 08/22/2016 - 23:00

Our Sister’s Thoughts: Hello Steeping Friends! Today I bring you a review from Bruu Tea, a UK based company that ships worldwide and offers an array of their own creative tea blends. Pina Colada Green was one of three tea’s chosen from my Tea Club box that arrived today and is my first taste of Bruu Tea. I find their style rather quirky, as well as receiving three teas (the others being Vietnam OP and Read More

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Tea Themes – Why hold back?

The Devotea - Mon, 08/22/2016 - 20:49

Last week, Lady Devotea and I found ourselves at an afternoon tea. Not a big surprise, it’s somewhat of an occupational hazard for us. We were surrounded by members of The Bonnet Squad. Now, it is traditional to describe people who are so incredibly lost in the world of Jane Austen as “Janeites”, but quite frankly, […]

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