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Transcendence

T Ching - 1 hour 25 min ago

Living here in Miaoli and serving at the Center every day, the only opportunity I have for any interactions with people who aren’t into tea or spiritual work is in the workplace. I’ve been at my current job for one year now, and although I don’t talk much with anyone, over time they’ve reached the obvious conclusion that I’m a weirdo with mixed-up priorities. Recently, an exchange at work resulted in a small explosion on the part of one of my co-workers that I found to be rather insightful.

I don’t really recall how it came up, but somehow I was offered some candy, M&M’s or a Snickers bar. I declined, and was asked why. I can’t remember how I responded exactly. In any case, my co-worker immediately exploded, “Geez! What’s wrong with you? You don’t even eat junk food? It’s like you’re against the whole world or something!”

I have always liked the somewhat comical description from the Dao De Jing, which loosely interpreted is that if you are speaking to a worldly person and they understand what you are saying, what you are saying is not the Dao. As it happens, this is also a pretty good litmus test to have in your pocket for a lot of situations; or a moral compass of sorts, you could say. We have had the experience, for example, when describing our projects to tea merchants here in Taiwan: “Room and board, teaching and tea –  all for free? What a silly idea!” Compass says: we’re on the right track!

Oddly enough, Snickers bars and M&M’s are exactly the two junk food snacks that I used to always eat in between meals, and were the last two junk foods I stopped eating, whenever I stopped eating junk food. As I’ve deepened my practice in tea and meditation, my sensitivity has increased dramatically, and a wide variety of unhealthy habits have quite naturally fallen away as a result. The worldly perspective on bad habits is that you quit them. But I didn’t have to ‘quit’ eating junk food, I simply stopped wanting it, naturally. The spiritual perspective on bad habits is not to quit them, but to transcend them. To ‘quit’ involves some involvement with the thing, a sort of throwing it away forcefully. You are going against whatever it is you want to quit. But I don’t have anything ‘against’ eating junk food any more than I’m ‘against’ putting my hand in fire. You may have done it once as a child, but after that searing pain, never again.

M&M’s aren’t quite so obvious. You read the label, you see they are filled with weird dyes and chemicals. Conceptually you know these aren’t good for you, but since concepts have no reality and M&M’s really are delicious, of course the delicious reality wins. But when you can actually feel those unnaturally slippery dyes and taste the bitter chemicals they carry under that waxy, glibly entitled ‘chocolate’ – when you can feel those chemicals seeping into your body, altering your whole system in wonky ways, every bit as clearly and instantly as putting your hand in a fire, then you have no desire for them anymore. Gone are the sentiments: “I like to eat M&M’s,” or, “I don’t like to eat M&M’s,” or, “Eating M&M’s is unhealthy and may cause liver dysfunction!” I simply don’t eat them. But try answering this question “Why not?” to someone who only knows a life of conceptual and moral positions, and the conclusion is always the same: that guy’s weird.

Positions of any kind are anathema to my spiritual life. I’m not against alcohol, or drugs, or meat, not even war, or anything else you care to mention. There is a caveat though; it’s better to say that I’m not against anything when I’m conscious. Drop me in a war and my practice will need to be much stronger, of course.

I already struggle with trivialities every day, but each situation is an opportunity for practice. If you followed me around each day searching for them, you’d find a dozen or more examples, sometimes in a single hour, of moments of unconsciousness where I’m ‘against’ any number of trite situations: being scolded, contradictions, following directions, dog poop on the floor, being made fun of, the angry way my boss talked to me at work, you name it. In these instances I am quickly throwing up all kinds of defensive postures. The most common formula is, ‘x shouldn’t have y’. In other words, “I am the authority on what should and should not be, and I have concluded that this thing should not be!”

With this in mind, I have given myself permission for a military attack, a reaction to that person, situation or thing, and feel justified, even holy, in my aggression. As though God himself would agree with me and I can do no wrong if my goal is to stamp out this thing that should not be. It may sound ridiculous to move from dog poop on the floor to holy wars, but the difference is only one of degree; the energy itself is identical. This is exactly the same energy that is at the root of all human conflict in the world. Just imagine the difference in our reality if we were somehow all relieved of our plaguing ‘shoulds’ and ‘shouldn’ts’!  And so, that is exactly what all of these daily situations must become for us: opportunities to work through the conditioning that brings nothing but suffering to both ourselves and everyone else.

If I am present, I quickly notice what happens when I react in such situations. Taking a moral position and lashing out or constricting inwardly both have a huge negative impact on my spiritual well-being. I lose any presence or equanimity I may have had. I have moved from consciousness into unconsciousness, and a snowball effect starts to vibrate on the same frequency as that which I claim to be resisting. Someone is angry at me and I become angry at them and shout: “Stop being angry at me, I didn’t do anything wrong!” I have increased anger, not diminished it. It’s just like eating the M&M’s and feeling those chemicals seep into my body, changing it in a negative way. My practice enables me to recognize that taking a stance is also a downward shift in consciousness. Both tea and meditation have taught me that you transfer what is within you into everything you touch, every person you meet. And in my heart of hearts my utmost desire is to raise up the con- sciousness of this planet, not bring it down; so moral stances and righteous indignation must be let go.

As a practice, there is no value in being ‘against’ anything. To be against is a declaration of war, and there are no ‘just’ causes except in the minds of the combatants. Never has there been a war of any kind, whether it be between two countries or a husband and a wife, where either side wasn’t fully justified in their own minds. But the minute you start digging trenches and constructing an offensive strategy, you have invited all the same negative energy into your cause as the cause you are supposedly against, and you have lost, even if you think you’ve won. In this instance, my co- worker couldn’t have been more wrong. Throw me into a swimming pool of M&M’s, and I’m not going to react to them either way. I just don’t eat M&M’s anymore. But there is still something valuable in what she had to say. She had to put it this way because she was speaking from a world where almost all interaction is conducted from the space of “what are you for? What are you against? Let me tell you what I’m for and what I’m against, and why, and let’s have an argument about it.” This is often considered the status quo; it’s just perfectly normal interaction, and if you mention anything else, you will get strange looks and flat denials. It’s a conversation, not a conflict. Weirdo! She didn’t have a word for me other than ‘against’, because we’re standing in two different realities. But if we change the word ‘against’ to ‘transcend’, then it would be a wonderful compliment and a great summation of progress. “Transcend everything in the world, including my self” is a great affirmation to work with.

This post was written by Kaiya for Global Tea Hut, February 2013. Loading image from T Ching archives.  Post images courtesy of Global Tea Hut.

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Mother’s Day Fun with Litehouse Foods

SororiTEA Sisters - 3 hours 31 min ago
Information:

Where to Buy: Where Litehouse Foods are sold.

Description:

Because Taste Matters

Taster’s Review:

Recently, LiberTeas asked if anybody was interested in doing a review on Litehouse Foods product line in conjunction with Mother’s Day.  I jumped instantly at the opportunity. My mom is a huge foodie! She is an amazing little chef and baker in her own right.  My childhood memories are flooded with happy times with family members and there was something fantastic to munch on.  My mom was thrilled to participate and so was my dad.  We had a ton of incredible spices and dressings to play with.

We started the day out with making up some dip.  Salmon dip.  Salmon dip with these amazing freeze dried spices that Litehouse Foods provided.  My mom gave me a face when she saw the jar and I told her that all she needed to do was add water.  She was a good team player and went with it. it I think she is addicted to them now.  Litehouse Foods has an array of different freeze dried spices from cilantro to ginger.  All you do is add water to the spices and Viola! You have instant fresh spices. The taste fresh too.  Just like you bought them fresh from the local market.

Salmon Dip

1-can pink salmon

1 pk cream cheese

pinch of garlic powder (or to taste)

Litehouse Foods Freeze Dried Chives- 2 tablespoons (or to taste)

Litehouse Foods Freeze Dried Dill- 3 tablespoons (or to taste)

We took a can of pink salmon, a package of cream cheese, Litehouse Food Chives, Litehouse Food’s Dill, and garlic powder.  Mix all of it up in a bowl.  We basically added the spices in to taste.  Wowza! The dip turned out so good.  Rich and creamy with a hint of tang from the dill and chives. The dill and chive spices tasted so fresh and bright.

Since we used so much cream cheese, the salmon flavor was very light and subtle.  Such a delightful treat to start our day with.  We all said we could see this being a spread that you could put on break for finger sandwiches.  Since I have an issue with carbs, we stuck to this being a dip instead.

I think my dad single handedly took down half of this dip.  We dipped veggies and crackers into this delight.  Yum!

We also opened Litehouse Foods’ Cucumber Dill Dip.  We are the family that always has the veggie tray at these festivies.  My mom ate half of this dip on her own with carrot sticks.  She proclaimed this to be the best veggie dip ever.  And she has always been a lover of the Ranch Packet dip.

Next, we made my Buffalo Chicken Street Tacos. A recipe I can come up with one day for dinner.

1 can of Buffalo Chicken (I get mine from Costco)

1 can of corn-drained

1 can of diced tomatoes-drained

1 green pepper-diced

1 pkg of taco seasoning

Dump all ingredients into a pan or combine all into a crock pot for ease.  If you want the mixture spicy, add in some red pepper flakes or jalapenos. Warm up the mixture and allow the ingredients to simmer together.

Take either soft tortillas or hard shell shells and pour some of the mixture in.  Add in any kind of cheese you would use for tacos.

Since this is Buffalo Chicken, I was hit with “inspiration” for this dish and thought, Litehouse Foods has my favorite Blue Cheese dressing- Chunky Bleu Cheese.  The best part of this dressing, it is Gluten Free! I try to go as Gluten Free as possible.  So, after we made up the tacos, we added in some of the dressing instead of using a salsa or sour cream.  Oh mama! Were these ever delicious! We gobbled them down like you wouldn’t believe!   The creamy blue cheese dressing calmed the spices in the mixture just a bit and brought out an amazing buffalo chicken flavor.

We are huge salad eaters at our family functions.  One of my aunt’s duties each get together is to bring the salad. She was so excited to see an Litehouse Foods’ Organic Ranch dressing.  She adored it! She said it was rich and tangy with an incredible texture.  All she could say was Yum !Yum! A Yum!

To end our Mother’s Day luncheon with a dessert my mom makes with crushed pineapple, chunks of angel food cake, layered like a parfait with sliced strawberries on top.  It is a MUST for my family.  My 9 year old destroys a bowl full in a matter of seconds.   Too add a bit of a fresh twist, we added in a couple of pinches of Litehouse Foods Mint.  When we received the Litehouse Foods box a few days before Mother’s Day, I was the most excited and looking forward to was trying this freeze dried spice out.  I couldn’t wait to add the mint into teas, dessert, yogurts, smoothies, and possibly an adult beverage or two.  One bite of this dessert and it was this fantastic array of flavors. . the sweetness of the pineapple and strawberries and the fresh mint compounded with the vanilla sponge cake. . just so good! We all were in heaven.

We had a great time with the Litehouse Foods and spices, dips and dressings.  I can honestly say that I have bought Litehouse Foods products in the past and have enjoyed them. But for one reason or another, just never seemed to pick those products up again.  I can say after this Mother’s Day luncheon, Litehouse Foods has renewed customers out of us.  I am dying now to pick up the Cilantro and other herbs they offer.  And I can say without any kind of hesitation that I will never run out of this Bleu Cheese dressing.  Thank you Litehouse Foods for giving my mom and I a fantastic lunch!! We appreciated the products and can’t wait to get our hands on more!

When we got back home from my parents, my boyfriend handed me a bag and said “Happy Mother’s Day”.  He gave me the most thoughtful gift I have ever received! I just had to share.

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Mango Party Coffee Leaf Tea from Wize Monkey

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 05/27/2015 - 03:59
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Coffee Leaf Tea

Where to Buy:  Wize Monkey

Tea Description:

Juicy mangoes all up in your boca.

Stay tuned for the official release of our mango flavour.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

You might remember back in November when I reviewed the Armando’s Original Blend Coffee Leaf Tea from Wize Monkey.  I enjoyed that ‘tea’ – it was different from anything else that I had tried but similar in taste to Guayusa.

Well, the guys at Wize Monkey sent me some more samples to try, and this is the first one I’m trying:  Mango Party Coffee Leaf Tea.  The website says that this flavor is “coming soon” and I’m not sure exactly what that means, but if the idea of mango flavored coffee leaf tea intrigues you, keep your eye on the website for when it becomes available.

This is a bagged ‘tea’ but I appreciated that the bag is an unbleached bag and there’s plenty of room for leaf expansion.  I put a bag in my teacup and added 8 ounces of water heated to 195°F.  Then I let it steep for 4 minutes.

Wow!  Mango!

The mango flavor is very prominent and I really like the way it marries with the flavor of the coffee leaf.   It has a deliciously juicy, fruity flavor and the coffee leaf has a buttery flavor that I didn’t really pick up on when I tried the original coffee leaf tea in November.  I think that the mango brings out the very best in the coffee leaf!

The overall flavor is smooth, buttery and MANGO!  Really nice!  This is something I’d be happy to drink again and again!  Two thumbs up!

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Tea Review: De Pelikaan Guerthee No. 5

Notes on Tea - Wed, 05/27/2015 - 01:46

De Pelikaan is a Dutch tea company which debuted in the US on May 7th at the Kikkerland Shop on Sixth Ave. Sara of Tea Happiness was the tea host! Read her write up of the launch event. Five teas were served at the launch event: an iced 'Mona Lisa Smile' (sencha, rose, strawberry blend), Guerthee No. 5, Wijnhuis Melange, Gyokuro, and Rooibos.


I went home with 100g of Guerthee No. 5 which is infused with bergamot. I enjoyed every cup of it. This surprised me. Why did I like this Earl Grey? Although the tea smells of bergamot oil, its flavors are smoky and earthy, like a subtle version of a Lapsang Souchong.


You can drink it with or without milk. I prepared it using 1 tablespoon per cup with an average steep time of 4 minutes.

Tea (a windup toy and tea filter, too) courtesy of Kikkerland. Special thanks to Sara for inviting me to the press event.

Anxi Tie Guan Yin Oolong from Nan Nuo Shan

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 22:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Nan Nuo Shan

Tea Description:

This tea is produced in Gande, a village famous for the complexity of its Tie Guan Yin tea.  Clear and fragrant, it possesses a mild flowery taste and a milky texture.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Mmm!  In an effort to get all the reviews finished that I want to get finished before May 31st, I’ll be writing about a lot more Oolongs!  No complaints from me!  I love Oolong!

And this Anxi Tie Guan Yin Oolong from Nan Nuo Shan is so delightful.  Sweet and floral with a beautifully silky texture!  It’s smooth from start to finish.

My first cup (infusions 1 – 3 … smaller gaiwan!) has very little astringency.  I do notice a slight drying sensation toward the tail.  Mostly what I notice is the sweet honey-like flavor that is accentuated with the soft, creamy texture and the lovely floral notes that evoke thoughts of orchid.  No sharpness with this first cup – it has an almost vanilla-y flavor to it.  Sweet, creamy and luscious!

And that cup was GONE before I could finish writing about it – that’s how delightful it tastes!

My second cup was stronger in flavor than the first.  The creamy notes have waned and I’m not picking up on as much of the vanilla flavors that I noticed in the first cup.  It’s still quite delicious but definitely different than the first cup.  The floral notes are more pronounced now.  I still get that lovely honey-like sweetness.  The texture isn’t as silky as the first cup but I’m still noticing very little astringency here.

This cup seems to be more rounded – it’s not as sweet as the first – it’s more balanced between sweet and savory elements.

My third cup (infusions 7 – 9) was still really flavorful, even after so many infusions!  That’s one thing you’ve got to love about Oolong tea – they deliver on the flavor and on mileage!  They keep on steeping!

The cup was not quite as strong as the second cup.  The floral notes were softer than the second cup, but stronger than the first.  I still get that delicious honeyed note and I’m starting to pick up on the faintest notes of fruit now.  Apple!  Sweet and even hints of tart that provide a palate-pleasing roundness of flavor.

A really nice Tie Guan Yin, one of the nicest I’ve ever had!  I have been so impressed with the teas that I’ve tried from Nan Nuo Shan these teas are of exceptional quality … seriously, if you haven’t tried anything from them yet, I recommend them highly!

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Cha Ginza: Roasted Matcha Green Tea from Yunomi

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 16:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type: Green

Where to Buy: Yunomi.us

Tea Description:

Have you ever heard of matcha that is roasted? This extremely rare Roasted Matcha is sold only in the Cha-Ginza store located in Tokyo, but we will be offering this to the Yunomi.us tea lovers!

The unforgettable taste of roasted matcha attracts many people that have tasted this at the Cha-Ginza tea room. The process of making a good-tasting roasted matcha is difficult, but the Uogashi Meicha factory was able to make this into a great tasting matcha.  Because it is so rare, roasted matcha is hard to find even in Japan.

Taster’s Review:

After reading about the brick and mortar store in the heart of Tokyo on the Yunomi website, Cha Ginza is now on my bucketlist of tea shops to visit before I keel over in my old age.

This Roasted Matcha from Cha Ginza is the most unique matcha I have ever encountered. The brilliant green powder is the same color as young spring grass. The roasted element is intense. There is still an element of extreme freshness underlying the roasted scent. I was so confused at first, I felt like I was sniffing a high-quality hojicha instead! But no, my nose was simple mistaken.

I whipped this up in my large black chawan to share with my fella. I used 1 and 1/2 scoops using my chashaku, and made a paste using a smidge of warm water. Whisking with my chasen with more water, I made a nice brilliant green froth to share with my mildly impressed boyfriend.

At first sip we were hooked. It had a great full-bodied roasted flavor, and the fresh green marine vegetal notes still very present. It reminds me of wakame or nori. This tea has really got that whole umami thing down. It’s also the smoothest match I have ever encountered. It even has a hint of sweetness that rounds out the intensity of the roast. It’s also a plus that there is virtually no smokiness to this tea. I think that I would not have enjoyed it as much if there was even a small element of smoke.

While this is not a tea to begin your matcha journey with, I would highly recommend this tea for those who have had plenty of good match experiences and wanted to try something unique and high quality.

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Global Tea Hut: April 2015 - Temple Mist

Tea For Me Please - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 16:00
I love that the teas from +Global Tea Hut often seem very seasonally appropriate. In with spring comes a Yunnan green tea called Temple Mist. When I receive my shipments from them, bowl brewing is usually the go to for my first session. The leaves of this tea were wiry and curly, typical of a Mao Feng leaf style. As they unfurled, the leaves were large and quite beautiful to look at. I tend to Nicole Martinhttps://plus.google.com/103097147251455801975noreply@blogger.com0

WANTED: managing editor/entrepreneur

T Ching - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 12:05

I am looking for a teacentric creative to help expand T Ching beyond its impressive current blog position as the #1 tea blog on the internet. We would love having someone from the T Ching community join the team as we bring T Ching to the next level. This opportunity has unlimited potential. The position begins as the assistant managing editor, learning the ropes and getting to know T Ching from the inside out and then moving into the Managing Editor position. Join me in brainstorming what the future of T Ching can look like. I am looking for an out-of-the-box thinker who isn’t afraid to think BIG. Strong computer skills are a must, as expected with any web-based position.  We use WordPress and are will train the right candidate if s/he is not familiar with this program.

Responsibilities include, but are not limited to:  proofreading, editing, and scheduling blog posts, interacting with and inspiring guest contributors, selecting photos to enhance the visual presentation of T Ching (until we find our new photo editor), helping to brainstorm a product line that I’m creating, engaging social media opportunities – and more. This position is remote and time flexible but because we are based in Hood River Oregon (PST), we must limit applicants to those within the U.S. and Canada due to scheduling issues. Work day or night in your pajamas while sipping your favorite tea of the moment.

Everyone currently involved with T Ching volunteers time as a labor of love. Some participate as a way to give back, some enjoy being part of a dynamic team, while others thrive on the creative component. Everyone wants to spread the word about our favorite beverage on the planet . . . TEA!

There is no initial salary but the right candidate has the potential to earn an equity position in T Ching. Perks include wonderful tea samples and opportunities for reviews of tea and new tea related products.

Direct inquiries to michelle@tching.com

Editor’s note: the current managing editor, Regena Rafelson, will remain on the T Ching team as a contributor.

Loading Image:         IMAGE 1:

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Everest Earl Grey from Nepali Tea Traders

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 10:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

This tea is available from Amoda Tea.

Tea Description:

This is perfect Spring afternoon Earl Grey. The black tea is light and works to create an elegant blend. With the added sweet orange peel, fragrant bergamot and a touch of Bourbon vanilla bean from Madagascar, this is delicious with or without milk or sugar.

Learn more about subscribing to Amoda Tea here.

25% of profits from our Nepal teas will be donated to the ‘Nepali Tea’ Restoration Fund for earthquake relief.  Learn more here.

Taster’s Review:

Yay!  Earl Grey!  I was so happy to find this Everest Earl Grey from Nepali Tea Traders in this month’s box from Amoda Tea because it’s a tea that I’ve wanted to try for a while now.  I mean, hey, if it’s Earl Grey – you know I want to try it!

To steep this tea, I used my Kati Tumbler.  At first, I was going to use my Breville One-Touch and use the entire contents of the sampler package that Amoda Tea sends in their monthly box, but, I decided that I wanted to have two separate occasions where I could enjoy this tea so I used my Kati Tumbler, measured a bamboo scoop of tea into the basket and poured 12 ounces of boiling water into the tumbler.  Then I let it steep for 3 minutes.

One tip about this tea:  let it cool a bit.  I find that the flavors emerge when the tea has cooled a little – the tea isn’t cold, not even what I’d call lukewarm, but it’s not piping hot.  It’s somewhere between the lukewarm and piping hot.  Not quite “hot” … it’s a pleasantly drinkable temperature.

The first sip or two was a little less than what I wanted in terms of flavor, to be honest.  Then I let it cool a bit.  (Check out the previous paragraph!)  Once the temperature dropped to the “pleasantly drinkable temperature” the flavors came forward.

The black tea is the strongest flavor I taste here – but it’s not a really powerful or aggressive tasting black tea.  It’s on the mellow side.  Smooth, rich but not overly robust.  As the description above suggests, it makes a nice afternoon cuppa.

Then I taste orange and vanilla notes.  Not bergamot orange, but orange.  It’s bright and a really refreshing orange taste.  The vanilla is soft and not quite as creamy as I expected it to be.  It’s more like a sweet accent rather than the creamy accent that I usually experience from an “Earl Grey Creme” type of tea.

I pick up on the bergamot by mid-sip.  It’s not quite as tangy as I normally experience from a bergamot flavored tea.  At least, not until the aftertaste.  In the aftertaste, I get that bergamot tangy note.  During the sip, I notice a sweet, flavorful citrus-y note with a distinct “bergamot-y” type of flavor.

While the bergamot is ‘distinct’ – it’s not as profound a bergamot flavor as I have experienced with other Earl Grey teas.  This is the Earl Grey tea for someone who typically finds a strong bergamot presence to be a bit too much for them, because this bergamot is rather subdued.   Distinct but subtle in it’s approach.

Overall, this is a really tasty tea.  Is it my favorite Earl Grey tea?  No, not by a long shot and if I were rating it according to my Earl Grey standards, it would probably end up with one or two stars on a five star rating scale.  But, I think that the tea itself is worthy of at least a couple stars on it’s own.  This isn’t a tea that would be part of my Earl Grey collection – but I would definitely enjoy having it as part of my overall tea collection.

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Oriental Beauty (Bai Hao) Oolong from Oollo Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 22:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Oollo Tea

Tea Description:

Renowned for its beautiful five colour dancing leaves. This traditional beauty exudes apricot and peach scents followed by indulging orchid, muscat grape, and apple flavours.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Oollo Tea offers some outstanding teas and this Oriental Beauty Oolong is a perfect example.  It’s one of the nicest Bai Hao Oolong teas that I’ve tasted in a quite some time!

The aroma is lovely – it reminds me of warm peaches – like the filling in a peach cobbler.  Warm and bubbly and sweet!  That’s what I think of when I smell this tea!

The tea has a wonderful fruit flavor – I taste stone fruit and flower.  The above description suggests orchid and when I focus on the floral notes, yes, I would say that the flower I taste is indeed orchid.  I taste notes of peach and apricot and hints of a honeyed sweetness.

I don’t taste muscat grape or apple yet, but perhaps those flavors will reveal themselves in later infusions.  For now, I’m quite happy with the notes of honey, orchid and peach-y apricot!

With my second cup (infusions 3 and 4) I am picking up some of those aforementioned notes of grape and apple.  Really nice!  I taste less of the peach and apricot flavors – those seemed to have disappeared – but I still taste a lovely orchid note and a lovely sweetness that I’d describe as more of a sugary sweetness now rather than a honey-like sweetness.  This tastes a bit like the sugar notes I’d experience if I were to eat a handful of raisins.

This cup is really smooth with just a hint of astringency toward the tail.  I taste a light, hay-like note to this too, similar to what I’d taste from a Bai Mu Dan (white tea).  Every once in a while, I’ll also taste the slightest whisper of vanilla.

I started to notice the flavor waning with my third cup (infusions 5 and 6), so I decided it would be my last of this tea.  But I had three marvelous cups of tea!  The third cup still had plenty of flavor – lovely notes of apple and grape and almost a melon-like background note that I hadn’t noticed in the previous infusions!  Still sweet, still lovely.

A really wonderful tea – this Oriental Beauty from Oollo Tea!  If you haven’t checked out their website yet, you should stop in and check them out!

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Rohini Jethi Kupi Black Tea from Udyan Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 16:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Udyan Tea

Tea Description:

Jethikupi is a word from the Manipuri dialect (from the North-east Indian State of Manipur) and it means ‘jasmine flower.’ In the Nepali dialect the word ‘jethi’ means the eldest girl child, while ‘kupi’ is a funnel or cone shaped object. Hence this tea points out to the earliest first flush of the tea garden. Rohini Jethi Kupi Black Tea brews into a crisp, full bodied, deep yellow cup with a malty finish.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I have enjoyed the different teas that I’ve received from Udyan Tea to review.  But I – without realizing it – think I may have saved the very best for last because this Rohini Jethi Kupi Black Tea is absolutely DELIGHTFUL.

It has that crisp and clean flavor that you expect from a first flush Darjeeilng tea, but this is more full flavored.  It has notes of malt!  It has a richness to the flavor and it’s nicely round.  It’s not “heavy” – it is crisp and light, but it’s not quite as light as a typical first flush Darjeeling.  This has a more robust body to it and it’s SO wonderfully sweet!

It’s nice and smooth with very little astringency and absolutely no bitterness.  It even has hints of muscatel to it – a note that I don’t usually expect in a first flush Darjeeling, but am always happy to find when I do find it.

This is exactly the tea I needed this afternoon.  I’ve been a little stressed out lately (I’ve been SO busy!) and I needed some time to just sit back and have a tea that tastes so good that the stress melts away.  This tea did exactly that for me.  This is one of the best first flush Darjeeling teas I’ve tried this year.  I highly recommend it!

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World Tea Expo - The Last Day and Heading Home

Tea For Me Please - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 16:00
Many of my housemates had shipped out by Saturday so I took advantage of taking a nap in a nice big bed. Tea partying all night takes a lot out of you! The expo being over, +Natasha N and I decided to have a bit of a tourist day. We started things off by walking to the Long Beach Museum of Art. Admission was free since they were having an art auction. None of the pieces were within our price Nicole Martinhttps://plus.google.com/103097147251455801975noreply@blogger.com0

World Tea Expo 2015

T Ching - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 12:01

Air is the key to the success in tea business – this is what I learned on this trip. Air helps deliver the fresh tea in the water – which is the mother of tea.  This may sound new to many in the trade, but it is the truth. Removal of moisture from green leaf is the manufacture of tea,  whereas addition of moisture back is the brewing of tea. This whole process of moisture removal and addition is to give shelf life while keeping the desired qualities in tea. Air is the conductor of moisture and one of the main elements of nature. Its importance in food processing is being more appreciated recently because of increasing pollution and climate change.

Winners look for all the factors leading to their success, so let us think more about air. Recently one of the low elevation tea gardens in Darjeeling cooled the air inside their factory, resulting in producing much better filler teas. They aptly gave it a very fancy name to attract the attention of quality buyers.

Historically, consumption of tea was nearer to the producer – which kept growing with the passage of time, thereby necessitating newer forms of production like green, black, oolong and so on. Transportation required better packaging facilities to keep the teas fresh and the game changer was dictated by air. The need of the present is to learn more about air’s role in these times of rising costs and higher wages.

Japanese tea machinery manufacturers are set to pounce upon the opportunity opening up in America – be it tea cultivation, processing, transportation or storing.  Both are no doubt the best, led by Prof. Hara and Nigel Melican. Governments are coming forward to study the tea sciences led by Jason McDonald; James Norwood Pratt is leading the pack to document everything which we ever knew – and never knew about tea thus far.

I feel lucky to witness the second generation onslaught. The British led the first generation from 1600’s on, following the 5000 year old Chinese tea growing model which is expanding by leaps and bounds now.  This exponential industry growth is fueled by the lure of health benefits for the 7 billion world population. Given the 90 billion US Dollar annual turnover of 4 billion kilos of annual world tea production, we welcome the changes.

Let us be with the winners.

Images courtesy of Rajiv Lochan of Lochan Tea.

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North Winds from Whispering Pines Tea Co.

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 10:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Whispering Pines Tea Co.

Tea Description:

My house black tea for good reason — North Winds is the essence of northern Michigan. A blend of a malty and chocolaty black tea from Fujian and a rustic high mountain dian hong with subtle fruity notes, this tea brings me home every time. Sweet fruity notes of apricot and white grape bring you to Traverse City while heavy dark chocolate notes allow you to have that Mackinaw Island fudge desert without having to take the ferry. Notes of toasted rye with cherry preserves show up mid-sip with a beautiful malt and wildflower honey finish. Light hints of sweet potato and clean white pepper mingle through the malt. These velvety smooth, decadent notes combine into a medium-bodied tea with a bold and rustic feel that makes for a perfect breakfast tea — but you’ll want to drink this all day long!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This is Whispering Pines’ house black tea, and it’s become one of my house teas as well. It sits in a little tin at the front of my tea cupboard, and I drink it several times a week. When I feel like I’m beginning to run low I place an order for a couple more ounces because I never want to run out of this one. Given that I love trying new teas there aren’t too many teas that I say that about! It’s a delicious blend of Yunnan Dian Hong and Fujian Black Tea that makes me happy each time I drink it.

When I first sip this tea I get a nice mix of dark chocolate and malt. The chocolate note is deep but has a sweetness that makes me think chocolate rather than cocoa. There is also a sweet, fruity, cherry note that is eye rollingly good combined with the chocolate and malt notes. The mix of flavors reminds me of the braided cherry chocolate tarts I sometimes buy at Redding Terminal in Philadelphia.  Both the tea and the tarts are sweet but not overly so. There is an underlying earthy flavor to North Winds which I appreciate since it grounds some of the brighter flavors and makes this a tea that’s good both in the morning and the afternoon. I’ve paired this tea with eggs and biscuits for breakfast. I’ve also served it with sour cream chocolate chip cake at a tea party, and my guest really enjoyed it. Overall it’s a nice, versatile, and down right tasty blend.

Whispering Pines recommends Gongfu Style brewing for this tea. I have always brewed this Western Style using 1/2 a tablespoon of leaves in 8 ounces of 205°F water, steeping the leaves for  3 minutes.  I am curious to try the Gongfu Style brewing to see if it’s possible for me to enjoy this tea more than I already do. If you use different brewing styles with this tea leave me a comment below and let me know your thoughts!

North Winds is a winner for me and one that I’ll happily repurchase again. I’d recommend this tea to black tea lovers and anyone who enjoys or is curious about Chinese black teas.

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Fermented Tea Classification

World of Tea - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 05:55

Fermented Teas

  1. China

    1. Hunan Heicha 湖南 黑茶 (Anhua)

      1. Fu Zhuan 茯砖  “fu brick”

      2. Qian Liang Cha 千两茶 “thousand tael tea” (sometimes called Hua Juan)

        1. Bai Liang Cha 百两茶 “hundred tael tea”

        2. Shi Liang Cha 十两茶 “ten tael tea”

      3. Hua Zhuan 花砖 “flower brick”

      4. Hei Zhuan 黑砖茶 “dark brick”
      5. Xiang Jian 湘尖 “hunan tips”

        1. Tian Jian 天尖 “sky tips”
        2. Gong Jian 贡尖 “tribute tips”
        3. Sheng Jian 生尖 “raw tips”
      6. Qu Jiangbo Pian 渠江薄片 (coin shaped)

    2. Sichuan Heicha 四川 黑茶

      1. Nan Lu Bian Cha 南路边茶 “south border tea”

      2. Xi Lu Bian Cha 西路边茶 “west border tea”

      3. Kang Zhuan 康砖 “kang brick” literally “peaceful brick”

    3. Anhui Heicha 安徽 黑茶

      1. Liu An Cha 六安茶

    4. Hubei Heicha 湖北 黑茶

      1. Qing Zhuan 青砖 “green brick”
    5. Guangxi Heicha 广西 黑茶

      1. Liu Bao Cha 六堡茶

      2. Liu Dong Cha 六洞茶

      3. Bai Niu Cha 白牛茶 (loose heicha)

      4. Xiu Ren Cha 修仁茶 (loose heicha)

    6. Guangdong Heicha 广东 黑茶

      1. Zhu Qiao Cha 竹壳茶 “bamboo shell tea”

    7. Yunnan Heicha 云南 黑茶

      1. Puer 普洱

        1. Sheng Puer 生普洱 (not technically post-fermented until fermented)

        2. Shu Puer 熟普洱

  2. Japan

    1. Awabancha 阿波番茶

    2. Goishicha 碁石茶

 

 

Gold Rush from DavidsTea

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 03:59
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  White Tea

Where to Buy:  DavidsTea

Tea Description:

Mulberries are a pretty precious fruit, so you don’t find them in tea very often. After all, mulberry trees are usually reserved for silk making, as they’re the only thing silkworms will eat. No wonder – they’re naturally sweet and rich, with an almost caramel-like flavour. In a word, decadent. Here we pair golden mulberries with creamy coconut and delicate white tea, for a tea that is guaranteed to give you gold fever. Eureeka!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I was very surprised to open up the pouch of this tea to see large chunks of coconut and huge mulberries! Where’s the white tea? There are a few leaves in there, but it’s mostly coconut and mulberries.  The scent of this blend is quite interesting, as well. It smells sweet, tart and a bit like juice. I’m starting to think that this might be a good blend for those who don’t like the taste of tea, but maybe the white tea will come out more in the flavor.

Wow, I wasn’t expecting this blend to taste like this given the ingredients! It’s certainly sweet and a bit creamy. I definitely see the comparison to caramel, but a version that has a tinge of fruit. The finish reminds me of almost burnt, crusty sort of sugar. Yum! I wish that the cup had a bit more body only because I think it would make it a richer treat, but it’s certainly drinkable the way it is.

I would recommend this blend for anyone who is looking for a unique, sweet tea. To be honest, I can’t really taste any of the white tea and wouldn’t know of its inclusion had I not read the ingredients list. I might try to fish around in the pouch to see if I can gather more leaves. I’m not missing the flavor all that much, but I’m not sure if the tea is worth the price given the large volume of coconut and mulberries.

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Brown Sugar Organic Oolong Tea from Tea Leaf Co.

SororiTEA Sisters - Sun, 05/24/2015 - 22:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Tea Leaf Co. 

Tea Description:

A wonderfully bold and smooth organic tea blend of dark oolong and maple, a perfect pairing. While the oolong is bold, full-bodied, and lightly smoked, the maple is light, aromatic, and sweet. The combination of the two flavors results in a well-balanced, featured favorite maple tea blend.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Mmm!  This Brown Sugar Organic Oolong Tea from Tea Leaf Co. is the first from this new-to-me tea company that I’ve tried, and it’s a good one!

The maple flavor is strong but I like that it’s not overpowering the Oolong tea.  Tea Leaf Co. has managed to strike a really delightful balance between the sweetness and rich flavor of the maple and the Oolong tea with its fruit notes and hints of smoke.

The base tea possesses notes of stone fruit (peach) and I taste wisps of smoke.  I like this delicate smoky note and how it plays to the notes of the sweet maple.  Nutty flavors develop as I continue to sip and I like how these interact with the maple notes as well.  This is a full-flavored Oolong, it’s rugged and has notes of wood and earth.  It’s a strong flavor that doesn’t wimp out behind the sweetness of the maple.  The contrasts in flavor from the woodsy, earthy, nutty and smoky flavors help keep the maple in check and keep it from becoming too cloying a drink.

The maple notes are sweet and pleasant.  They don’t taste chemical or artificial.  It tastes like someone drizzled a drop or two of real maple syrup in my teacup!  Quite delectable!

A real treat – this “Brown Sugar.”

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Green Dragon from Canton Tea Co.

SororiTEA Sisters - Sun, 05/24/2015 - 16:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Canton Tea Co.

Tea Description:

Blended for us by Rare Tea Hunter, Phil Mumby, this is a base of China Green Sencha given a full makeover with the citrus kick of lemon zest, lemongrass, lemon oil – and ginger. The combination of the fresh, green grass sencha notes, the lemony flavour and the warming ginger is completed by the subtlest hint of liquorice root to give a lingering sweetness.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Yum!  When Canton Tea Co.asked me to try their new Green Dragon – I was excited!  I’ve been really impressed with the quality of teas that I’ve tried from Canton and I love the combination of lemon and ginger – so I was sure that I’d enjoy this new blend of theirs.

And I do!  The lemony notes are tart with just enough sweetness to them to keep me from puckering when I take a sip.  The warmth from the ginger is mild.  And the licorice root is barely noticeable – even those who don’t typically like licorice root would probably enjoy this because the licorice root doesn’t really stand out as an obvious flavor.  It’s more like a hint of sweetness toward the tail.

The Chinese Sencha is a sweet, fresh taste with a hint of grassy flavor.  It has a pleasant creaminess to it, light and buttery.  I like the way this buttery quality melds with the lemon-y notes, creating an almost lemon custard type of experience with each sip.  It’s very smooth.

As I continue to sip, the warmth from the ginger builds slightly in the back of the throat.  It never gets really warm though.  It’s a very mild, gentle peppery note that offers contrast to the creaminess of the tea and the tangy lemon notes.

A really lovely tea – it’s a delightful summertime tea that tastes great as a hot tea or a refreshing iced tea!

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The Twinings English Breakfast Tea Song

Tea Guy Speaks - Sun, 05/24/2015 - 15:00
Not so bad, as these odes to tea go.

The Breville One-Touch Tea Maker

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