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How do you do tea at work/school?

Walker Tea Review - 5 hours 33 min ago

Making your own tea at the office or at school can be a very healthy, affordable and rewarding experience, if preparation and clean-up are simple and convenient. Take a look at how easy the steeping cup can be, and try for yourself. I used Dragon Pearl‘s steeping cup which is FREE with an order of...

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The post How do you do tea at work/school? appeared first on Walker Tea Review.

Tell us about your favorite tea shop!

T Ching - 8 hours 18 min ago

Most of us in the tea-loving community have that one tea shop they love to go to. Maybe they make the best cup of tea in town. Maybe they have the best selection of loose teas in the city. Maybe the people are just great! Some of us are lucky enough that we have many places to choose from.

But what about you? What is your go-to tea spot?

Part of what we do at T Ching is spreading the love and knowledge of tea to the world. But it is also important that we also spread the love and visibility of our local tea businesses. Without them, it would be that much harder to share the tea love!

Is there a tea shop by you that deserves some extra visibility? Have you had a stellar experience at a store you visited while on a trip? Are you a small tea business that would like to share your story? Tell us! Send your stories to editor@tching.com or post them on our Facebook page, and we will share some of them on our site!


The post Tell us about your favorite tea shop! appeared first on T Ching.

Creme De Menthe from Clearview Tea Co. . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - 9 hours 17 min ago
Clearview Tea Co’s Creme de Menthe. Black Tea. Vanilla. Mint. Sounds like the perfect makings for an after-dinner latte to me. Preparing this latte, I noticed that the dry leaf even had a creamy smell to it, probably thanks to the vanilla. The mint, though abundant, did not take over scentwise but rather balanced the sweet creaminess. As I steeped the tea for 3 minutes in 200F water, I hoped that quality would transfer over to the taste as well. Sipping on it now, I can say that this is quite lovely. It is a touch more muted than I Read More

An NYC Afternoon of Tea and Friendship

Tea For Me Please - Tue, 10/17/2017 - 04:34

I live in a quiet little corner of New Jersey. It's not always perfect but it does have the advantage of easy travel to NYC. I am also lucky enough to have a small tribe of wonderful women there who all love the leaf as much as I do. From time to time an email will go out like the Bat-Signal, gathering us all together for tea.

We started our day off at La Colombe Coffee Roasters' Chelsea location. Alexis from Teaspoons & Petals is their tea consultant and we were all excited to see the debut of their newest tea offering, Silverton pour over Matcha Gyokyro! The Silverton pour over brewers they had in the cafe are seriously drool-worthy. I don't need one...but I definitely want one after seeing them in action. My cup was expertly brewed, a perfect blend of everything that I love about both matcha and gyokuro. This is definitely one to check out if you are ever in one of their cafes that offer it. Once we had all gotten our fix at La Colombe, it was time to hop in an Uber to the International Culinary Center.

Pour Over Matcha Gyokuro at La Colombe
The International Culinary Center was kind enough to allow us to hold a small tea party in their library. Surrounded by beautiful books and wonderful friends, my senses were quite overwhelmed. Keiko from Rishi Tea put together an incredible exploration of Japanese green teas. I was particularly excited to have the chance to compare different teas. Yabukita is by far the most prevalent cultivar so my not-so-inner tea nerd was ready to really dig into teas made with Okumidori, Saemidori, and Machiko.

So many delicious teas to taste!
One thing that our group has in common other than tea is that we all have a bit of a sweet tooth. Not only did she lay out a beautiful table but Keiko also tempted us with delicious mochi and macarons. Darlene also surprised us all with raspberry flavored Kit Kats, a perfect accompaniment for all of the matcha that we were drinking. The black lilies made for a really striking visual and I'm still admiring one in a vase on my kitchen table as I'm writing this post.

The Shincha Machiko was a definite standout for me. I tried it at a previous tasting and enjoyed it just as much the second time around. Machiko is a cultivar known for its unique cherry blossom aroma. Although the entire tasting consisted only of Japanese green teas, they were each distinctive and unique. Vertical and horizontal comparisons help to increase our understanding of tea. I highly recommend putting together a similar menu of your own if the opportunity ever presents itself.

Needless to say, I was more than a bit tea drunk by the time we were finished. That didn't stop me from wandering over to T Shop afterward with Jo. After sharing many sips of Yu Shan oolong (anything but green tea!), I was ready for the train ride(s) home.

I'll be sure to link to other blog posts about our gathering here:

Do you have a favorite kind of Japanese green tea? Let me know about it in the comments!

Pancake Breakfast from 52Teas. . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 10/17/2017 - 02:00
I’m really excited to be reviewing a tea that is part of 52 Teas’ permanent collection! Its nice that they started this because I like having options that aren’t always Limited Edition. I never tried their Pancake Breakfast Black Tea before, but when I saw it I had to grab a sample pouch because anything that involves pancakes or waffles always peaks my curiosity. Smelling the dry leaf of this smooth black tea blend I could definitely smell the maple syrup. Now- something that happens with a lot of teas that are created after a pancake or waffle usually end Read More

A Kid-Friendly Novelty, Delicious, Gross Swampwater from David’s Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 10/17/2017 - 00:35
David’s Tea company always have the cutest seasonal mugs, and I just can’t help but check out their fall collection as soon as it goes up on their website.  Their loose-leaf teas are generally all blends, and tend to be on the sweeter side.  That said, it is a colorful and friendly place to get started for those who are new to tea.   This Halloween season, I ordered a cute ceramic jar with glow-in-the-dark ghosts.  To get the jar, it came filled with tea, and this blend was such a good time I had to write a review.  The Read More

Boba Fett Fandom Blend from Adagio Teas. . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 10/14/2017 - 23:00
The fandom blends section of the Adagio website is a wonderful, wacky, wild west of tea blends. Any movie or video game or book you can think of has a series of community-made teas meticulously blended and designed for your tea-brewing pleasure.  One downside is that the blend creators can change or remove their blends at any time.  I’ve got a tea today from the Adagio fandom vault, a blend that’s no longer posted, but we’ll still take a look at it’s fun, fandom flavors: Boba Fett from Chelsea Drangsholt. This green tea blend is fruity with a bit of Read More

Apple and Cinnamon from Teapigs. . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 10/14/2017 - 14:39
Recently I ordered the “cheeky” sample set from Teapigs and got a small taste of a dozen of their teas.  One of my favorites from the bunch was Apple & Cinnamon. When the weather gets cool, my apple and cinnamon consumption grows exponentially, (I mean, for breakfast I’m exclusively eating these apple pie overnight oats).  And this tea is my new obsession for an herbal evening brew. Apple & Cinnamon tea from Teapigs is fitting into my autumn menu perfectly.  This herbal blend is all fruit and herbs, no rooibos or honeybush or decaf tea leaves.  Lots of little yellow Read More

A Grown Up Chocolate Experience: Cacao Tea from Mi Cacao

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 10/14/2017 - 01:19
Chocolate tea can be a decadent latte, or a great dessert-replacement.  But most of the chocolate teas I’ve tried, have black tea or honeybush tea as a base, mixed with chocolate chips and chocolate flavors.  This tea, Cacao Tea from Mi Cacao, is a completely different chocolate experience. You may have heard about cascara tea at your local coffee shop, which is a brew made from the husks of the coffee cherries.  Similar to cascara tea, cacao tea is an herbal brew made with cacao shells.  These shells are the exterior pod that hold the cacao nibs, the essential chocolate-making Read More

Friday Roundup: October 8th - October 14th

Tea For Me Please - Fri, 10/13/2017 - 16:00
Tea Recipe: Chocolate Masala Chai with Turmeric

Sara from Tea Happiness posted a recipe this week that really grabbed my attention. I rarely drink flavored teas anymore but there's definitely still a soft spot in my heart for a well-done masala chai. She really upped the ante by adding chocolate and turmeric.

How to Season and Clean Clay Kettle Boilers

I've been wanting a clay kettle for some time now. Cwyn's Death by Tea must have read my mind. She posted a comprehensive guide to caring for and cleaning them. Who knew that a potato would come in handy?

Just a quick note: Last week's roundup and regular posting schedule didn't happen due to my little sister's wedding festivities. Now that my maid of honor duties are completed I'm hoping to get things back on track. Thanks for bearing with me folks!

Tea Review: Yunomi Teas from Yumomi Farm Direct, Tsukigase Kenkō Chaen, and Kurahira Tea

Connie at Tea in Spoons reviewed three different teas from Yunomi, one of my favorite Japanese specialist vendors. I know I've said it in past roundups but I really love her photography style! The tencha, in particular, is something that I'd like to try since I have had relatively little experience with it.

Earl Grey Milk with Cotton Candy

Jee from Oh, How Civilized always comes up with the most decadent recipes. Tea-infused milk topped with a cloud of cotton candy just might take the cake though. I have got to give this one a try!

Tea Infused Deserts: Panna Cotta & Pots de Crème

Speaking of decadent sweets, Lu Ann at The Cup of Life shared two amazing sounding recipes with the help of blogger and cookbook author Tracey Ceurvels. I love her suggestion to experiment with different types of tea.

A quick note: Last week's roundup and posting schedule couldn't happen due to my little sister's wedding festivities. Now that my maid of honor duties are completed I'm hoping to get things back on track here. Thanks for hanging in there folks!
Jason and I at the reception. We clean up well :)

Blast from the past: the need for spice and warmth – fall baking and tea

T Ching - Fri, 10/13/2017 - 12:51


This article was originally published to T Ching in October of 2010.

I grew up under the perpetually sunny skies of California.  I did not have the concept of the air cooling and becoming crisp, of the leaves changing and covering the streets in red and gold, and of the need for spice and warmth, making you want to bake.  This fall in Milwaukee has been unseasonably warm.  My fall vest is still in the closet, but the urge to bake is still strong and has led me to my collection of squash.  There’s pumpkin pie, but that’s too predictable.  So, I decided to experiment with butternut!

It only made sense to pair my butternut with the aromatic spices of chai and because I love chocolate, I combined them all to make Butternut Chai Chocolate Chip Muffins!

Recipe for Butternut Chai Chocolate Chip Muffins

Wet Ingredients
1 cup of butternut (Cube and bake it at 375 degrees for about half an hour, then mash with a fork – that way you end up with a few chunkies!)
2 eggs
1 stick of butter (cream with sugar a bit)
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1 cup of Rishi Tea chai concentrate or one cup of strongly brewed chai

Dry Ingredients
2 cups of flour (I used a half-wheat, half-white blend)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp star anise
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp salt

1 cup of chocolate chips

Mix the wet ingredients together.  Then mix the dry ingredients together.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients without over-mixing.  Mix in the chocolate chips.

Bake at 375 degrees for 24 minutes.  Bake until a toothpick comes out dry.

Makes 18 small muffins.

Enjoy with a cup of chai!

The post Blast from the past: the need for spice and warmth – fall baking and tea appeared first on T Ching.

Jasmine Dragon Pearls from Enjoying Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 10/13/2017 - 11:15
In the early days of my loose leaf tea drinking, I first encountered jasmine green tea pearls.  I was working evening shifts at the college library and we had a small, varied supply of tea, mainly our favorite tea bags.  But one night, one of my coworkers had brought in loose leaf teas they were looking to share.  I was fascinated by these little green pellets in one of the tea canisters and dropped a few in mug even though we didn’t have tea bags or filters.  I watched the balls of tea unfurl and fill my mug with flavor. Read More

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie from Tealyra. . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 10/12/2017 - 23:00
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie is one of many Tealyra teas shared with me by a friend. It is also the first Tealyra tea I am ever trying. Comprised of apple pieces, hibiscus blossoms, rose hip peels, white chocolate chips, flavoring, freeze-dried yoghurt and rhubarb pieces, I decided this might be best as an iced tea. I steeped the tea per the recommended steeping parameters, brewing this for 4 minutes in 200F water and topping it with ice. In light of the hibiscus and rosehips, I expected some of that familiar tartness but there is none of that here. None at all. Read More

Lose Weight and Detoxify Naturally With Iaso Tea 

T Ching - Thu, 10/12/2017 - 12:47

-by Lucy Wyndham

Are you overweight or feel physically and mentally drained? Besides exercise being extremely important, you need to look at your diet.  If you’re looking to boost your health while using a herbal slimming supplement, Iaso tea could be the solution for you.

The Iaso Tea Detox and Weight Loss Solution

With the added benefits of soluble fiber, Iaso Tea flushes body toxins from the intestines, cleansing the digestive system and supporting the liver and kidneys. Being 100% organic and with its gentle taste, Iaso tea helps in removing excess fat from the body and assists in the purification and circulation of the blood, promoting cardiovascular health. Iaso tea contains no stimulants such as caffeine and is a natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.


Iaso Tea is a popular herbal tea consisting of a combination of natural ingredients like Persimmon leaves, Malva Leaves, Holy Thistle, Blessed Thistle, Marshmallow, Chamomile, Ginger and Myrrh.  These ingredients work together to give you the detox and weight loss you are promised. These are some of the results you can expect when using Iaso Tea.

Weight loss and detox

Iaso Tea contains Ginger which increases the ability for your body to burn cholesterol as well as Persimmon leaf extract that boosts digestion by helping the body eliminate toxins.  Holy Thistle and Blessed Thistle play a role in neutralizing toxins thereby supporting liver function and Malva leaf extract controls indigestion, lessening inflammation in the colon.  The cleansing and detoxing of vital body organs in the digestive system prevents unhealthy weight gain.

Iaso tea is rich in antioxidants and anti cancer compounds like flavonoids and vitamins that protect your cells from the damaging effects caused by free radicals. Persimmon leaf extract contains antioxidants reducing cell damage and protecting your body against life threatening conditions, all of which have an adverse effect on weight maintenance.

Inflammation may also be the culprit when it comes to unexplained weight gain. Permission leaf extract, Marshmallow and Myrrh all have anti-inflammatory properties in Iaso Tea.


Another health benefit of Iaso Tea is the calming effect of Chamomile which can help reduce stress, anxiety and insomnia.  Sleeping well and feeling happier can lead to a more active lifestyle where you burn more calories and lose more weight.

Iaso Tea is a zero-calorie beverage that can replace sugar loaded soft drinks or sweetened fruit juices, reducing your calorie intake immediately.  Drinking eight ounces of Iaso Tea twice a day will help shed the pounds and keep the doctor away.

Photo by Suhyeon Choi on Unsplash

The post Lose Weight and Detoxify Naturally With Iaso Tea  appeared first on T Ching.

Yunnan Gongfu Fragrant Black Tea from Teavivre. . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 10/12/2017 - 11:04
It is gray and overcast with rain threatening to move in and stay a while. That’s a real tea day in my book! But my breakfast tea caused extreme pain to my delicate esophagus, which has endured years of reflux. I have tossed out that cup and moved on to try this. I love Teavivre’s Yunnan Dian Hong Golden Tip tea. It is a staple in this house. I am betting this one will be good, too! First, the dry leaves live up to that title – fragrant, indeed! Steeped western style, I have a hearty, rich cup. I used Read More

The Sharing Economy

The Devotea - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 21:44

“The Sharing Economy” is one of those phrases that kicks around at the moment, along with the Gig Economy, the Social Economy and The Beard-Oil-Led Recovery, which basically all imply that hipsters know what is good for you. A better term is “Collaborative Consumption”, merely because of the possibilities of working it into a hip […]

The post The Sharing Economy appeared first on Lord Devotea's Tea Spouts.

Sonwu Tea Rou Gui, Spring 2016, Tea Master Zhou, Wuyi Mountain Inner Circle

Tea For Me Please - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 16:00

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: dark, slightly curled
Steep time: 3 seconds, increasing with each infusion
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: deep reddish brown

Things have changed quite a bit since I first started reviewing tea. For a long time, email was the primary method of communication between tea companies and bloggers like myself. Nowadays I am more likely to receive a direct message on Instagram. Being a pseudo-millennial, I am OK with this. When I received such an inquiry from new-to-me Sonwu Tea my interest was definitely piqued. A glance at their website showed a focus on single-origin Chinese teas.

I'm a sucker for handwritten labels and although just a single serving, this package was beautifully done. Rou Gui roughly translates as cinnamon. The name might lead you to think the taste would be spicy. There are hints of that but I would say the defining characteristic is a fruitiness reminiscent of dark red fruits. Although it is an individual cultivar, Rou Gui is often used for blending with famous Shui Xian varieties like Da Hong Pao and Tie Luo Han. It is one of my favorite Wuyi oolong varieties and I have been lucky enough to try many excellent examples over the years.

The brewing directions for this tea were a bit lighter than my personal style but I always try a vendor's recommendation first before experimenting. A quick initial flash brew of 3 seconds produced a surprisingly robust cup. The taste was fruity with hints of chocolate covered espresso beans. Yum! Later brews revealed a slightly drying minerality along with a sweet woody tobacco-like character. By gradually increasing my infusion time, I was able to make at least 10 to 15 infusions before the leaves had given their all.

This tea is definitely not a daily drinker. It might just rank among the priciest that I've reviewed here on the blog. That being said, sometimes you do get what you pay for. It was everything that a Rou Gui should be. Note the "Inner Circle" part of the name. It indicates that it was grown in the protected core part of the Wuyi Shan region making it a Zheng Yan, or true cliff, tea. I also have a Huang Guan Yin from Sonwu Tea in my to-be-reviewed pile. After enjoying this one so much I can't wait to dive into it.

Rou Gui, Spring 2016, Tea Master Zhou, Wuyi Mountain Inner Circle sample provided for review by Sonwu Tea.

Dive Into the Magical World of Herbs

T Ching - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 12:46
While few people are aware that pharmacy-sold medications are often derived from plants, such as the willow bark-based aspirin we typically use to relieve headaches, or the mighty morphine from opium poppy, even fewer people know the full extent of herbal powers.

There are so many of them that are simple to obtain and even simpler to use in order to boost our health, so learning about their application can help us at least sneak a peek into their incredible potential and start using them to improve our lives on so many levels.

Kitchen as your medicine cabinet

Nature offers many delicious and convenient ways to relieve your various aches and pains, from muscle soreness to a headaches. However, it seems to be a matter of habit and cultural norm to reach out for the pills instinctively rather than brew a few cups of peppermint tea, or the soothing lavender, both of which are very easy to come by.

In addition to these, you can infuse your diet with herbs that are perfect for boosting your immune system and protecting you from bacterial and viral infections all-year-round. One such super-herb is the potent matcha green tea powder, which is brimming with antioxidants to soothe inflammation, and vitamins and minerals to improve your resilience.

Go green with your cleaning supplies

On the other hand, you might be surprised to discover that some of these tasty plants can also double as your homemade cleaning agent, free from all the toxic chemicals typically found in the harsh store-bought detergents. For example, mixing lemon and peppermint essential oil can provide you with a brilliant window-cleaning solution that not only smells divine, but also helps you live a more Earth-friendly life.

Essential oils derived from lavender, mint and eucalyptus are wonderful sources of home-friendly cleaners that can serve to disinfect your bathroom and kitchen, while even waxing your furniture can be achieved with the help of lavender oil mixed with beeswax and olive oil.

Spice up your menu

In addition to a hot cup of herbal tea, there is a whole range of commonly underestimated spices you can introduce in your diet to improve your health, purify your complexion, and ward off illnesses. For instance, despite its unpleasant smell, garlic is a powerful cancer-fighting ingredient, especially when consumed raw. Add a pinch of cinnamon to your rice cooked in milk, and you’ll have a satiating, healthy treat perfect for winter, while cinnamon makes for a delicious tea, as well.

Add some anti-inflammatory cumin to your morning omelet and you’ll find that your breakfast not only tastes better but also protects your immune system and improves your digestion.

However, if you find it difficult to incorporate more herbs into your diet, there are many digestive health supplements that contain aloe vera, ginkgo biloba, and similar herbs, proving that medicine is, simply put, going back to its green roots.

Herbal beauty

Another industry that has also started learning from nature in the past few years is the beauty industry, turning to plant-derived ingredients that protect and nourish your skin, whether it’s already healthy, or if you’re struggling with a condition such as eczema or psoriasis. What’s more, as the sun’s harmful radiation is only growing stronger, sun protection products based on skin-friendly zinc-oxide, chamomile and other herbs are another step forward in utilizing elements directly from Mother Nature.

Calendula, for instance, is known to have soothing effects for sunburns and insect bites, and it doubles as a wonderful way to lighten your hair. You can use many dried herbs, including lavender, calendula once again, and peppermint to steam your face and cleanse your pores. Finish off with a gentle, home-made, herbal moisturizing cream, and your entire routine can be natural and infused with herbs.  


The post Dive Into the Magical World of Herbs appeared first on T Ching.

Earl Grey Cider from 52Teas. . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 11:00
The Earl and I have been buddies for a long time. He’s begun, gradually, over time, to let his guard down. This weekend, in fact, he invited me out camping. “There’s going to be cider,” he said. “I’m going full Johnny Appleseed on this.” “That’s rustic!” I said. “The castle’s a little stuffy. I’m branching out,” he said. “BRANCHING?” I said. “I LOVE IT WHEN SOMEONE GETS MY PUNS,” he said. After a long day of hiking around a charming English forest, we set up our tents for the night. The following morning, he slow-simmered some tea over a small Read More

How does a tea hunter hunt for tea?

T Ching - Tue, 10/10/2017 - 12:00

I’m a Tea Hunter living in Kyushu. It’s here where some of the very best Japanese tea leaves are grown, processed, blended and produced. But the question I’m asked most is, “how do you find your teas?”

And what a brilliant question that is! The simple answer is to hunt…and hunt and HUNT, usually getting lost in the process. And folks, only the brave trust Google maps, which will usually take you where no man has dared to go before. Back roads are a Tea Hunter’s dream and Kyushu’s network is one of the best, often revealing an unknown artisan producer or leading to a rare tea from a hidden location.

In the quest for hunting down the finest leaves in Kyushu, it surprised me that I hadn’t found amazing, mind-blowing tea on the eastern side of the island in the four years of living here. But that changed just two days before Typhoon Talim smashed into the eastern side of Kyushu in September.

Friends in the tea community had given me a tip that there was a small farmer somewhere in Miyazaki Prefecture, producing some pretty remarkable tea, and award-winning no less. That’s all I needed to know to jump in the car and head east.

Miyazaki is laid back. It’s where the Japanese go to surf the big waves. It has some of the oldest trees in Japan with shrines built around them. It’s also famous for the labyrinth of multicolored wildflowers in spring calling out to millions of visitors and of course home to the breathtaking Takachiho gorge.

Even with all of the natural beauty, one thing Miyazaki Prefecture isn’t synonymous with is Japanese tea. When you think of Kyushu teas, Chiran (Kagoshima Prefecture) and Yame (Fukuoka Prefecture, near Saga Prefecture) claim the fame. But Miyazaki’s climate is ideal for growing tea and the soil is incredible. It’s rich and dark: comparable in color to a block of Valrhona 86% cacao. In fact, I haven’t seen soil as dark as this anywhere else in Japan.

As I was trying to recover from a Google map mishap, I saw a child-height plastic Matcha ice cream cone proudly displayed in front of a small tea shop. Having driven in circles for what seemed like hours, I was in dire need of Matcha in any form it was delivered and stopped at the tiny shop for a cone.

As I parted the outdoor curtain and excused myself upon entering, I found a clean, wonderful, fairly modern little tea shop. The aroma of fresh tea leaves filled the air. One side of the shop was filled to the brim with cold tea brewers, tea snacks of all shapes and sizes, tea cups and pots. Along the adjacent wall was a very tidy display of teas packaged in simple but elegant bags. Two large award certificates hung proudly on the wall. I knew this must be the place my tea friends were mentioning.

Within seconds of entering, a young girl rushed over with a small cup of tea, explaining that it was their new autumn blend. The color was intense and the taste deep and layered with a roasted backend. I knew they added a higher heat during the final stages of drying to achieve that fired characteristic. I personally like teas that don’t use too much heat at the end as I don’t want to mask the true taste of the leaves. However, this tea was lovely and certainly not over fired.

The Master blender, Kuroki-san, suddenly appeared on the scene to answer some of my questions. I was immediately taken by his joyful energy and passion which bubbled over as soon as he found out that he didn’t need to speak English. He spoke enthusiastically about the cultivars in each of his teas and how he perceives their specific personalities. “Saemidori to me is like royalty and Okumidori reminds me of an elegant lady that lights up a room!” He went on to discuss how he likes to bring certain flavors to the forefront using temperatures to control the tea’s release.

Master Kuroki also explained that while they weren’t certified organic, they favor natural farming techniques and are well below the government standards on mild pesticides, unlike the large farms that often blanket the fields with protection using remote controlled planes.

As a Tea Hunter, I’m looking for that something special…a particular way a farmer goes about producing his tea. Does the farmer look at the different cultivars and blend them to bring out the best flavors? Or does he simply stick to Yabukita, the main cultivar known for being robust, and use steaming times to achieve a flavor? Does he choose to use heat during the drying cycle and cover up some of the leaves natural personality? How does he treat his Hojicha, the roasted tea – leaves only, twigs only or a mix of both? How about his Shiraore (karigane) – is it milky or fired and where do the stems come from? What kind of rice does he use in his Genmaicha and are his leaves first harvest or the standard Yanagicha? And one look at his packaging says a lot: can you see the tea through the package? Are there any bulk bins of teas with glass lids that let the sun in?

Master Kuroki certainly knows his tea, but I wanted a taste. I suggested trying his Shiraore (stem tea). Since I’m so particular with how it is handled during the final stages, this would be a good indication if we were like minds…

On the very first sip of his Shiraore kabusecha, I knew we were kindred spirits! There was a milky, creamy feeling on my tongue and none of the roasted backend that so many producers use to mask the perceived inferior stems. Master Kuroki is as picky about the stems as he is the processing method. He selects only kabusecha or gyokuro stems, and processes it in a way that allows the natural taste of the leaves and stems to shine through. One look at the cup and you can SEE the energy bounding forth.

After that sublime Shiraore, I knew I needed to try all of his teas and scooped up the lot. We are currently tasting them… It’s pretty clear that Master Kuroki will join our team of Rockstar producers!

The post How does a tea hunter hunt for tea? appeared first on T Ching.

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