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Eight Minutes To Normalise

The Devotea - Sat, 07/26/2014 - 06:24
Eight Minutes. I just set the timer beside me for eight minutes. In eight minutes, the cake I have carefully made to Lady Devotea’s exacting recipe will be ready to come out of the oven. It’s strawberry and white chocolate. There is no flavouring except actual strawberries and actual white chocolate. But I digress. I […]

Boost Et Moi Tisane from Les 2 Marmottes

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 07/26/2014 - 03:59

Tisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Tisane

Where to Buy:  Les 2 Marmottes

Tisane Description:

Guarana, ginseng, ginger: a trio 100% plant explosive vitality!  In addition, these pêchus ingredients are not the only stars.  We have put together a stunning blend of subtlety by slipping rosehips for its fruity taste, lemon balm for its sweet and aromatic flavor and tangy hibiscus note and its beautiful ruby color.  A lively and rich in aromas tea for a day full of pep.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I have enjoyed the adventure of these teas and tisanes from Les 2 Marmottes.  Since I can’t read most of the packaging, I have to turn to the website and Chrome’s ability to translate the French language to know what the tea is all about.  It makes for an interesting tea moment.

When I grabbed this Boost Et Moi … I visited the website to see what ingredients I would be encountering with this blend.  Here’s what the translated website lists:

  • Hibiscus Flower
  • Rosehip
  • Melissa
  • Guarana
  • Ginseng
  • Ginger

I wish that there wasn’t hibiscus in this.  Fortunately the hibiscus imparts very little of its tart flavor, mostly it seems it is there for a berry like flavor and the vivid ruby color and a bit of texture.  I’m glad that it’s not a syrupy texture.

There is an interesting contrast of flavors in this blend:  a distinct herbaceous note with a slight earthy character from the ginseng.  There is a touch of lemon-y taste from the Melissa, and the Guarana adds a slight bitter note.  I like the peppery zing of ginger.

This is the third tea/tisane that I’ve tasted from Les 2 Marmottes, and it’s probably my least favorite of the three.  I would rather the hibiscus not be in there, and I’m not wild about ginseng.  That said, this is not an unpleasant functional tea, but I don’t know that it’s one that I’d reach for to drink every day.  I do like the burst of energy that this tea provides, though.

Overall, this is alright, but not my favorite of these little adventures that Les 2 Marmottes has taken me on.

Instagram accounts for tea lovers

Notes on Tea - Fri, 07/25/2014 - 21:52
It was fun to peruse the Instagram accounts featured in Tasting Table's article "Instagram Accounts Food Lovers Need to Follow." I wondered, What are the Instagram accounts tea lovers should follow? Here is a round-up.

I like bellocq teas but love their photos more!
Web | Instagram

Experience tea around the world through Kathy's photos.  There are a fair amount of food photos, too.
Web | Instagram

Another tea itinerant is Jee of Oh, How Civilized. Great photography and original (delicious) recipes. Also, Jee is a reliable resource for fun and special experiences in NYC.
Web | Instagram

I learned about this new tea company on Kathy YL Chan's blog. Photographs of gorgeous packaging and tea landscapes abound.
Web | Instagram

Nicole knows the business side of tea well! She's the new manager of Tea Drunk in the East Village.
Web | Instagram

Lu Ann at The Cup of Life has written about her top tea Instagram ssers. Who are you following on Instagram for tea?  Please share your favorites in the comments.

P.S. I don't have a Notes on Tea Instagram account but you can find me @localecologist.

Tea Review 533: Temple Road’s Crane Monk Light Oolong

Walker Tea Review - Fri, 07/25/2014 - 20:53
  Score: 91 Price (as of post): 25 g = $8.99  to Walker Tea Review. Get complete access to Member Content.   Sign Up For The Newsletter. Sample provided by Temple Road. Walker Tea Review- a tea blog with tea reviews and tea tastings. Want to see a tea reviewed? Contact me: jason@walkerteareview.com

Lovers’ Leap Tea Estate Black Tea from P.M.David Silva & Sons

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 07/25/2014 - 16:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  PMD (P.M.David Silva & Sons)

Tea Description: 

Sitting proudly above the town of Nuwara Eliya, Lovers’ Leap Estate is steeped in tradition and legend. The Nuwara Eliya district is famed for producing the “champagne of Ceylon teas” and is often mistaken for the British countryside with its red post boxes and colonial bungalows. The estate bears the name from the tragic tale of a young couple that leapt of a waterfall on the estate. Moreover, it was the only tea to be served at the HM Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee in 2012 – a tea for those who enjoy the finer things in life!

Lovers’ Leap teas are reputed for their delicate and elegant characteristics. The estate is home not only to tea, moreover, the abundance of eucalyptus, cypress trees and wild mint bushes give the air a pleasant mentholated fragrance. The tea absorbs the fragrances and when infused it bears a remarkable golden, light green infusion. The flavours are bright, crisp and clean – the pleasant mentholated undertones will leave your taste buds tingling! We recommend Lovers’ Leap to be taken without milk or alternatively with a slice of lemon.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I know that I’ve tried Lovers’ Leap estate teas before, but, I can’t recall ever trying one quite like this one.  The description states that this is a Ceylon, and the leaves look like Ceylon to me.  But the color of the brewed tea and the crisp, light flavor is almost Darjeeling-esque to me.  It’s like a beautiful marriage of the two tea types.

As I said, it’s light and crisp … almost effervescent in flavor.  There is something very uplifting about the flavor of this tea.  It is sweet, and I taste the notes of eucalyptus and cypress trees that surround the Lover’s Leap estate, as well as the wild mint!  These aren’t strong flavor profiles in this cup, but they are definitely present in the many layers of this complex cuppa.

I am really enjoying the different flavors this tea has to offer within it’s layers.  Notes of menthol, woodsy notes, grape-like tones, light notes of citrus and sweet whispers of flower are just some of the flavors I’m experiencing here.

The sip starts out with a crisp note.  I can taste the notes of wood and flower right at the start.  As the sip develops, I notice the mint-like notes – very clean and cool! – and then I taste notes of grape.  Toward the end of the sip, there is a brightness to the cup, it’s almost citrus-y and this is noticeable especially toward the finish.  These citrus-y flavors linger in the aftertaste.  It’s not an overly astringent brew, but I’m experiencing some puckering of the inside of my cheeks toward the finish.  If I inhale after the sip is finished, the air that floats over my palate delivers a light mint-y note.

If I were to choose a season to compare this tea to, I’d choose summer, because it has a sunny flavor, reminiscent of a warm day with a gentle breeze blowing through the countryside.  The air is clean and invigorating with notes of the trees, flowers and some of the herbaceous tones that surround you.

This is not a tea that I’d choose for a breakfast or early morning tea, mostly because those earliest cups of tea I want to be more hefty and substantial.  This would make a stunning afternoon cup, though, and one that I’d serve to guests, because it makes a very impressive beverage.

A bright and beautiful cup of tea!  I’m becoming more impressed with the quality of teas that I’m trying from this company – PMDavid Silva & Sons – the more I taste from them, the more I like them!

Handmade Tea Along the River

Tea For Me Please - Fri, 07/25/2014 - 16:00
Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: small, dark green with lots of lemongrass and huge pieces of fruit
Ingredients: Mao Feng green tea, cantaloupe pieces, lemongrass
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 175 degrees
Preparation Method: Teavana Perfect Tea Maker
Liquor: pale greenish yellow

I'm terribly behind on tea reviews which means that I have not been able to indulge in my +Handmade Tea shipments in a timely fashion. This particular blend was sent out in April. Oy vey! Cantaloupe is one of my favorite fruits to eat in this summer so it appealed to me before before tasting. The base was a pre-qingming Mao Feng green teas. I was a bit worried about what the balance would be like because this tea tends to lean very much on the mellow side. The cantaloupe pieces were gigantic. I had to did for some since they didn't quite fit onto my measuring teaspoon. Lemongrass isn't my favorite but Caleb is a flavor combination master so I trusted that he would not lead me astray. The tea was mildly vegetal with a bit of a lemon pepper kick. As it cooled, a sweet melony aftertaste became more and more apparent. It was delicious! My ever skeptical boyfriend even enjoyed it. I can't wait to try it as an iced tea. I have a feel that will help it to really come into its own.

You can find out more about this tea subscription service here.

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A word or two about tea bags

T Ching - Fri, 07/25/2014 - 12:00

The period from 1904 to 1908 was a bellwether one for tea in the United States, or for those with more traditional tea-drinking habits, the beginning of the end of the practice of enjoying properly prepared tea. In 1904, iced tea was popularized by Richard Blechynden at the St. Louis World’s Fair. At about the same time, New York tea and coffee merchant Thomas Sullivan began to send customers samples of tea in hand-sewn tea bags, which were not intended to be used as an infusion method, but customers did so anyway and the tea bag was born. After thousands of years of preparing tea by simply infusing loose leaves in hot water, in a few short years, the ritual of tea drinking became “new and improved” – that is, more convenient and faster.

Yet one person’s creation of a sample bag for tea and another gentleman’s desperate attempt to figure out how to get customers to try more tea during stifling hot summer temperatures could not have spread to the public at large without the ability to market and mass produce these innovations. While many tea specialists like to refer to the evolution of tea as being part art and part science, there is a third component – industrialization – that has played an equally important role. Being able to mechanically produce standardized tea bags at the rate of hundreds of bags per minute allowed moderately priced, yet in many cases, lower-quality tea to be available to a wider tea-consuming public. Within a couple of decades of Sullivan’s introduction of the tea bag, the United States quickly migrated to the tea-bag-brewing habit. Great Britain took much longer and into the 1950′s-60′s was still drinking only a small percentage of their tea from tea bags. Today, according to the UK Tea Council, over 90% of the tea consumed in Great Britain is in bag form, comparable to the popularity of the tea bag in the United States.

In the past, problems with quality have plagued the tea-bag category and to this day most loose-leaf tea drinkers continue to shun almost all tea in bag form. Mass-produced tea bags’ use of muslin, cotton, or woven paper material concealed the contents of the tea bag and with their customers unable to see the quality of the leaves, lower-quality grades of tea were frequently used in tea-bag production, both to lower the price to the consumer and to increase profits to the tea company.

Recently, pyramid-shaped tea bags have improved the standing of the tea bag and the overall taste of the tea. The nylon pyramid bag (or sachet) allows better grades of larger broken loose-leaf teas to have more room to expand and release more of their flavor. Also, the additional space allows for larger herbal ingredients, botanical florals, and fruit pieces in blended teas created for pyramid-style tea bags. These bags also use translucent materials, allowing the customer to more easily see the quality of the tea leaves and other ingredients. While they aren’t necessarily equal to the fuller flavor of loose-leaf teas, contemporary sachets and pyramid bags signal a marked improvement over the limitations of the pillow-shaped tea bag.

While the enthusiasm (and sales) of tea might be at an all-time high in this country, those with a more discerning appreciation of specialty teas sometimes find the reality of their niche category difficult to accept. Yes, a rising tide of popularity of tea raises all boats, including that of loose-leaf tea drinking but it would seem to be a monumental task to raise the percentage of loose-leaf tea consumed to 15%, and to make it to 20% seems virtually impossible. This doesn’t account for new innovations in tea “bag” packaging or other forms of brewing servings of tea that could push the numbers even higher in the opposite direction. Is it any wonder that even small-to-medium-sized tea companies that start out in the loose-leaf tea business quickly gravitate to either creating a line of tea bag offerings or get into the ready-to-drink bottled iced tea market? The tea bag may have had to endure being the object of some derision in the higher echelons of the tea world, but it has been laughing all the way to the bank for over a century now. Although they may not be Lu Yu or Rikyu, Sullivan and Blechynden have in their own way altered the course of tea history. Whether you choose to bury them or praise them is up to you.

First published 26 July 2012.

The post A word or two about tea bags appeared first on T Ching.

Coconut Cream Pie Honeybush from 52Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 07/25/2014 - 03:59

Tisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Honeybush

Where to Buy:  52Teas

Tisane Description:

Sweet, caffeine-free African honeybush combined with our signature honking-big coconut flakes and organic flavors.  Our Coconut Cream Pie black tea is one of our all-time bestsellers.  I can’t fathom why we haven’t made a honeybush version of it yet, but I’m here to fix that now.

Learn more about this tisane here.

Taster’s Review:

As mentioned in the above description, the Coconut Cream Pie black tea from 52Teas is one of their best sellers.  There’s a reason for that!  That tea is seriously, awesomely good.  Their iced tea version from Southern Boy Teas is also quite yummy.  So I was very interested to see how these flavors went with a honeybush base.

The answer:  it’s really tasty!

Now, I have to admit that I prefer the black tea version, but then again, I’m more of a camellia sinensis type of girl than I am a Cyclopia (aka honeybush) kind of girl.  However, I must say that I like the nutty, honeyed sweetness that the honeybush brings to the coconut cream pie flavors!  The coconut and the honeybush meld together nicely, and the honeybush also accents the buttery pie crust notes deliciously.

I taste strong notes of coconut mingling with sweet notes of creamy vanilla and touches of buttery pastry.  The nutty, sweet notes of the honeybush marry together with these flavors in a very pleasing way.  It’s sweet, creamy and yummy!

It’s dessert in a teacup!  It is sweet without coming across as cloying.  This is the kind of dessert that you can “indulge” in without feeling guilty afterward.

And even though I do prefer the black tea version of this tea, I like that this is naturally caffeine-free, making it a nice choice for later in the evening.  You know those late night sweet tooth cravings?  This tea is just what you need to help you satisfy those cravings without eating something that you’ll regret in the morning.

Mint Julip Black Tea from Tea of Life

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 16:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Tea Description:

Black tea with natural mint flavor.

Learn more about Tea of Life and Amazon Teas here.

Taster’s Review:

When I read the name of this tea:  Mint Julip … I expected a little more than a black tea with mint.  I guess when I think Mint Julip, I think bourbon and mint.

But!  Don’t take that statement as me not liking what I’m sipping, because this is an enjoyable drink.  The black tea notes are strong, it’s a brisk tasting black tea with a smooth character.  It’s not bitter or overly astringent, although there is a mild astringency toward the tail.  I like that even though there is this faint “dry puckering” of the inside of my cheeks, the transition from the beginning of the sip to the sensation I just described is very smooth.

I’m a little surprised by the mint notes.  They are quite faint, and generally when I have a minty tea I expect a stronger mint flavor.  This is really quite subtle.  This is definitely more a black tea than a mint tea.

So, that leads me to say this:  if you’re looking for a minty black tea, this is not the right tea for you.  If you’re looking for a black tea with a hint of mint, this is the tea.  This doesn’t have that really CRISP cool minty sensation that you’d probably expect from a minty black tea.  This has a delicate mint note that sort of lingers in the background.

It’s a pleasant, enjoyable cuppa, but not quite what I was expecting!

"A Painful Pot," creepy dragon teapot sculpture by Johnson Tsang

39 Steeps - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 16:00
{ Johnson Tsang, "A Painful Pot" }  Johnson Tsang's sculpture, "A Painful Pot," caught my eye today. A Chinese dragon crushes a vessel, not unlike a boa constrictor making a meal. The malevolent serpent clutches the deformed pot, its claws sinking into the bulging material. A snarling, spitting creature's mouth serves as the spout for an unusual teapot design.

Because this object has no handle, the serpent would likely burn your hand on contact if you were so foolish as to try to pour. This sculpture in the vague shape of a teapot suggests none of the tranquil comfort one expects from a good cup of tea. It's an image of devouring supernature red in tooth and claw; cruel, fiery death; a cold, suffocating embrace.

This is not Grandma's teapot. Unless, of course, your grandmother held no sentimental expectations of well-behaved crockery.

Please visit Johnson Tsang's website for lovely photos of his ceramics studio. Lots of cool, creepy stuff there.Please click over to visit my blog to get to know me better. And if you would be so kind, join the site with Google Friend Connect and share it with your friends on Facebook or Twitter. Thank you for your patronage!

Global Tea Hut June 2014 - Mi Xiang Oolong and Red Tea

Tea For Me Please - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 16:00
I was really excited to dig into the June shipment from +Global Tea Hut because they sent an oolong and a red tea, both made from Mi Xiang leaves. Before I even opened my envelope I received an email from them letting me know that there may be an issue with the packaging. Sure enough when I opened my tin the two teas were hopelessly mixed together. When I let them know about it they were very quick to apologize and send a replacement, even including a bonus of purple red tea.

The difference in the dry leaves was really obvious here. The oolong had the characteristic deep green leaves in a tight ball shape of a Taiwanese oolong. The red tea was dark and in even tighter balls than the oolong.

Brewing two teas at once is a lot of work (and dishes)! I'm so glad that I reserve these shipments as my day off tea. I got so involved in what I was doing that I completely forgot about everything else that is going on in my life. It's important to take a moment to really enjoy tea from time to time.

There was definitely a stark contrast in the colors of the brewed tea. The oolong was a pale gold while the red tea was more of a reddish dark amber.

The oolong opened up quite a bit more than the red tea which makes sense since it is not as heavily oxidized.

Both teas were very tasty, different sides of the same coin if you will. The oolong was aromatic and lingering while the red tea was earthy and sweet. Both shared a honey-like quality that I really enjoyed. It was interesting to compare them with each other because another thing that they had in common was texture. We don't usually think of tea having a texture but it does. These both had the same silky smooth, somewhat thick mouth-feel.
I know I've raved about them here before but I really can't recommend Global Tea Hut enough. The teas are carefully curated and delicious. Each shipment brings new surprises and tea knowledge. It is donation based so it's really up to you how much you want to give to support their work. I'm looking forward to one day being able to visit their center in Taiwan.
Mi Xiang Oolong and Red Tea purchased through a paid Global Tea Hut subscription.

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Life by the Cup

T Ching - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 12:03

An inspirational quotation; exquisite description of a tisane, blend or whole leaf beverage; a story rich with character and conflict; revelation; reflection; as well as exercises for the reader’s growth make up each chapter in this remarkable how-to book. Life by the Cup: Ingredients for a Purpose-Filled life of Bottomless Happiness and Limitless Success. I admit to being put off at first by the deeply personal nature of the author’s disclosure, but this reservation was soon put aside by the splendidly written exposition moved along by compelling narration.  Tea weaves its way throughout, each chapter a cup of tea.

Let me share excerpts from the chapter “Pluck the Positive”: ” . . . fair-trade black tea leaves from the Uva province of Sri Lanka, the Nilgari Mountains of Southern India, and the Yunnan province of China. . . Sipping this morning blend today, I can’t help but reminisce about the importance it had for me when I was first starting out – it meant the world.  This tea was the pure, clean canvas on which I could paint infinite colors and possibilities.  These leaves carry flavor notes of raisin, tobacco flower, rum, hay, and the balmy afternoon rains of Sri Lanka..  This tea also has a bit of caramel on the palate, with high notes of optimism and promise.  The caffeine content is fairly high, waking you up, kicking you in the butt, and sharpening your senses to how amazing you are and what more you can be.”

The chapter goes on to describe the women who pluck the tea, from the staggering number of plucks required for a kilo of tea to the expected daily harvest for each worker.  The author’s connection to and curiosity about the women who labor for her daily cup ends up a fascinating lesson in the amazing accomplishment that makes up that cup. The exercise for this chapter, “Plucking the Positive,” is to compose a prayer of gratitude as you sip your tea.  Say thank you for three things as you sip that first precious cup.  Your day will be better and you will be able to see the good you are looking for.

Along the way, the author’s credibility in motherhood, herbal medicine, and tea blending is firmly established and reestablished.  Although the book can be read as a straight-through crash course, it is best savored chapter by chapter like a good cup of tea.

You can learn more about the book here.

 MAIN:            IMAGE 1:

The post Life by the Cup appeared first on T Ching.

Earl Grey Black Tea from Nina’s Paris

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 03:59

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black & Green Teas

Where to Buy:  Nina’s Tea Store

Tea Description:

Bergamot from Sicily. The smoothness of Keemun (Black Tea) together with the freshness of bergamot. An ancient recipe that was handed down by a high dignitary of China to Earl Charles Grey. A classic that definitely shouldn’t be missed.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

When I opened my sample of this Earl Grey tea from Nina’s Paris, I’ll admit that I was a little disappointed and skeptical about whether or not I’d like this Earl Grey, because the aroma was very faint.  Not just faint, but there was hardly any discernible bergamot fragrance.  And when it comes to Earl Grey, I want BERGAMOT!

Now that the tea is brewed, the bergamot scent is a little stronger than it was with the dry leaf.  And the flavor doesn’t disappoint!  Quite the contrary, this is a superb Earl Grey!

The bold flavor of the Keemun black tea base gives this tea a little added “umph!” that makes a real difference in the overall flavor.  I love that rich, smooth flavor of the Keemun together with the tangy-sweet notes of the bergamot.  The wine-like notes of the Keemun marry beautifully with the citrus fruit, and creates a very harmonious taste.

And the slight smoky note of the Keemun also adds some interest to the cup without overwhelming it.  It’s not a heavy smoky tone, just a little wisp of smoke in there that keeps the taste buds intrigued.

The bergamot is stronger in flavor than the fragrance led me to believe, but it isn’t an overpowering bergamot flavor.  Typically, I like a good, strong bergamot essence, but, I like the subtler approach of the bergamot here, because it works to the favor of the complexity of the Keemun, allowing the palate to explore the many different notes within this cup.  It’s not all about the bergamot, nor is it all about the Keemun.  It’s a really interesting combination of flavors, one that I am enjoying very much.

This is a really good Earl Grey.  Definitely worth a try if you’re an Earl Grey enthusiast like me, or even if you are just looking for the “right” Earl Grey for your tea cupboard.  You should definitely try this one, it’s different enough from the standard to make it stand out from the pack.

JT’s Kitchen: Tasty Tea Popsicles

Joy's Teaspoon - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 23:40

by Naomi Rosen

I live in Las Vegas. I believe when you translate that in Spanish, it’s loosely “So. Hot. Popsicle. Now.” During the months of June, July, and August, I will drink my weight in iced tea and still be thirsty. Since moving out here 5 years ago, I’ve learned all sorts of tricks that help deal with the heat. We have mini pools, water tables, wet towels, covered parks, water guns, and we only go outside before 9am and after sunset. Reaching deep into my bag of tricks, one of my favorite go-to’s for a warm summer day is popsicles! A girlfriend of mine gave me a Zoku popsicle maker our first summer here and that thing has seen some battle time!

You can keep it simple and freeze just the tea itself.  Or, you can get all complex and over-achieverish and create your own popsicle line.  One of my favorites is the Pina Colada…

  • 1 can of coconut Milk
  • 1 cup of frozen pineapple
  • 1 cup of your favorite tea (in this case I used a Sencha, but rooibos based teas are great for this too!)

I put it all in a blender, let that do it’s magic, and then pour the mix into the Zoku. I think it takes about 8 minutes to become a popsicle. I use that time to read some of my favorite tea blogs or keep my kids from destroying my house with a soccer ball. #ThanksWorldCup

Are you a popsicle fan? What’s your favorite tea popsicle recipe? I’m always looking for more ideas and you never know when a discount code might end up in your inbox as a thanks for keeping my recipe file full!

Yin Gou Mei Green Tea from Simple Loose Leaf

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 16:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Simple Loose Leaf

Tea Description:

This Chinese tea is often referred to as eyebrow tea due to its eyebrow shaped tea leaves. The leaves are hand picked during early spring to result in a floral and robust flavor without the bitterness often associated with this type of tea. The rich green tea leaves brew to reveal a bright jade liquor with a fresh aroma, balanced earthiness and smooth, subtle finish. Yin Gou Mei Green Tea is best served hot.

Learn more about this tea here.

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

Taster’s Review:

It’s been a while since I’ve had a Yin Gou Mei, so, I was really looking forward to having this tea when I discovered it was part of this month’s Selection Club sampler box from Simple Loose Leaf.

Yin Gou Mei is often called “Chinese Eyebrows” because of the cute “eyebrow” shape of the leaves.  But, I don’t like calling it Chinese Eyebrows because that sounds … weird and not in a good way.  So forgive me for not calling it by that name and instead going with Yin Gou Mei.

And this is a really LOVELY Yin Gou Mei!

This is sweet and creamy with soft nutty notes, but there is a light crispness to the cup as well.  There are delicate floral notes that meld with the soft, creamy sweetness.  It makes my palate swoon how these two tastes mingle together.  It’s very smooth from start to finish, with no bitter notes and very little noticeable astringency.

What I like about Yin Gou Mei is that it’s a little different from the typical green tea in that it tastes somewhat “earthy” but not really overly vegetal.  While there is a slight vegetative note to this, it’s not a heavy, grassy taste, nor does it taste like steamed veggies or any of the other vegetative comparisons that I often make.  It’s smooth, floral and lightly earthy/vegetal note that is softened with a pleasant creaminess.

I know I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again in the future, but, I just love getting my monthly Selection Club box from Simple Loose Leaf!  It really is a GREAT bargain:  I get five different teas each month and there’s enough for several pots of tea from EACH of the five teas in the box.  Plus you get a sample from the next month’s box to whet your appetite for the teas to come!  And there are a couple of different payment options available to you that have been designed for savings and convenience in mind.

And if you want to save even more, here’s what you do:  use this code - SISTERSELECTION25  - and receive a 25% discount when you sign up for the Selection Club!  This discount is applicable only to the monthly Selection Club subscription and not the retail selection of teas.  It’s an awesome service!

White2Tea 2013 Jingmai - Old Arbor vs Plantation

Tea For Me Please - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 16:00
I posted some questions about how to the age of puerh tea from the leaves on TeaChat and Paul from +White2Tea was quick to respond with information and an generous offer of samples to illustrate the differences. I've got a whole batch of goodies to write about from him but in this case I did a comparative tasting of 2013 Jingmai raw puerh. One is an old arbor tea (many vendors will call this "ancient") and one is from a plantation.

In all of the photos the old arbor version will be on the left and the plantation on the right. Right off the bat, there was a definite difference in the dry leaves. The old arbor leaves had a nice shine to them while the plantation leaves looked quite dull in comparison.

The differences in taste were very subtle at first. The plantation tea was just a shade paler and as the later infusions came, it seemed to have a lot less impact that the old arbor. I was almost reminded of the difference between true cliff and half cliff for Wuyi Mountain oolongs. The plantation tea is close but not quite there. Puerh is one of the most misunderstood types of tea and I find myself diving into it more and more lately. Hopefully as the academic interest in this category increases, we will see more agreement about what is fact and what is fiction.

Some of you might remember my tea pet who unfortunately decided that he wanted to stay in Long Beach after the World Tea Expo. I ordered a close approximation on Amazon and it finally arrived. The original was the same design but a bit nicer. This guy is chubbier and less refined but still cute. Welcome to the world of tea Ribbit II.
Jinmai Old Arbor and Plantation samples provided by White2Tea.

When You Get Your Tea News from a Political Web Site

Tea Time With A.C. Cargill - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 15:55
As of the posting of this article I have been writing for The English Tea Store’s Tea Blog for almost five years and have been its editor for about 3.5 years. One thing I have learned in that time, added to my 30+ years in writing, GUI design, etc., is how to size something up and decide if it’s worth the time of day or not. So, when an article got forwarded to me by someone from a very politically biased news Web site, my alarm system had been triggered. Uh oh. This never bodes well. Nevertheless, in the interest of fairness, I took the time to read through the article thoroughly and could tell almost immediately that it was worthless in the annals of tea knowledge. Better to go read a Far Side cartoon – in fact, it would be a much better use of time. In short, I’m saying that not all articles on tea merit your attention.

The article that was brought to my attention was about caffeine-loaded energy drinks versus tea. It was written by someone who “holds a Master's in Mathematical Behavior Sciences.” Makes him quite an authority on caffeine…not! At least this guy in his article actually bothered to link to something sorely lacking when it comes to anything about tea and health: links to true experts. Yes, tea is the better boost. Time to take a look at why.

An Analogy

Many of us were taught that flooring the gas pedals on our cars to do that zero-to-60-in-5-seconds that car dealers like to brag about burns up a lot more gas that easing up to that 60 mph speed. And you don’t get where you’re going any faster. So chugging a beverage laden with extra caffeine, while giving you that extra jolt, will be a short-lived effect and has some negative consequences.

Just like those “jack rabbit” starts, a sudden jolt of caffeine burns you out faster than the lower dose from tea. In fact, those lower amounts are better overall as shown here:

“The most notable behavioral effects of caffeine occur after consumption of low-to-moderate doses (50-300 mg) and include increased alertness, energy, and ability to concentrate. Whereas moderate consumption rarely leads to health risks, higher doses induce negative effects such as anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, and tachycardia.” [source]
How Tea Is Different

Caffeine in tea is different not only due to its lower quantity but also its make-up. Along with the caffeine, tea has L-Theanine. The common perception here is that the L-Theanine in tea has a calming effect. This study shows that it may actually work with caffeine to give you a bit of a cognitive boost. And this study shows that the combo improves alertness. Again, easing up to that 60 mph and being able to stay there longer.

Get your engine revved with tea and go farther! And get your tea news from a tea site and bloggers like me dedicated to tea.

© 2014 A.C. Cargill photos and text

Special industry: dong ding oolong

T Ching - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 12:03

Recently I attended an event that I believe was a first of its kind here in Taiwan. The Nantou County Government sponsored the Lugu Farmers’ Association to host a public forum on the local specialized industry of Dong Ding Oolong Tea. The renowned tea source of Dong Ding Mountain is located in Lugu Township of Nantou County in Central Taiwan. The event was organized by the United Chinese Art of Tea Promotion Association, and regional representatives from all over the island attended along with many other leading professionals in the field. Along with all these “tea pros” was a full house of tea lovers from all walks of life. It was inspiring to see the level of interest for and commitment to this local traditional treasure of Dong Dong Oolong. A few days before, I had just completed my defense for my MBA thesis on the preservation of the quality and product value of Traditional Taiwan Tea. So needless to say, I was especially interested in this event.

The panel of speakers was initially meant to include a keynote speaker who was a central figure in the promotion of tea as well as a professional tea judge in Nantou County for 40 years. Now in his 80’s, and feeling under the weather at the time of the event, he couldn’t make it. So my tea mentor, who was scheduled to follow his presentation, covered both the historical and current age of Dong Ding Oolong Tea. Presenting as the Director of the Lugu Farmers’ Association department of promotion and senior tea judge, he offered an extensive overview of this world that he grew up in and made his vocation. I loved the images of the beginning of a new era of tea production in this area that began in the 1950’s.

Following the overview of the topic, speakers included the Tea Research Extension Station Director of the Yu Chi (Sun Moon Lake) Branch, a resident of Lugu – who is also a senior judge in tea competitions island-wide. He gave a comprehensive explanation of what makes a high quality traditional Dong Ding Oolong, and how it differs from large-scale modern tea production.

Beyond this were central representatives of Taiwan Tea Culture who offered their perspectives on the consumer’s understanding of specialty teas, classical Chinese music in accompaniment with traditional culture and tea types, tea and poetry, and the promotion of tea regions as agricultural tourist destinations. It certainly was a full panel of professional and academic perspectives, and my Chinese listening ability was definitely on overload by the end of the day!

Of course, being the only very noticeably foreign attendant involves an inevitable trace of self-consciousness, but I have developed enough immunity to this factor over 20 years of living here to not let it be a hindrance. It was a very timely and worthwhile event to experience, and left me feeling all-the-more grateful for being welcomed into this wonderful world of tea.

Let’s not forget the tea! While this very educational event ensued, all attendants enjoyed two wonderful teas brewed and served by local tea club members. The first brew was Dong Ding Oolong that represented the original mid-elevation tea growing region of Lugu Township – from my favorite tea growing locale of Phoenix Village. The second was an aged Dong Ding Oolong that simply imbued the meaning of traditional oolong tea in our current age. This alone was well worth the journey through mid-summer heat to experience.

Andy Kincart is the Sourcing Director for Eco-Cha, Responsibly Sourced Artisan Tea.

 Event photos: 陳信綸 ; historical photo and loading image used with permission from Tony Lin.



The post Special industry: dong ding oolong appeared first on T Ching.

Nutty Mocha Mate Blend from ArtfulTea

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 03:59

Tisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Yerba Maté

Where to Buy:  ArtfulTea orArtfulTea on Etsy

Tisane Description:

The indulgent taste of chocolate and hazelnut, plus mellow chicory, give this mate blend a rich, roasted, mocha flavor. Yerba mate is an herbal infusion, but unlike most herbal teas, mate contains a stimulating caffeine-like compound. 

Learn more about this tisane here.

Taster’s Review:

It’s been a while since I’ve had some Yerba Mate, and this is a great tisane to get myself back into it!  This is really quite tasty!

It actually reminds me a lot of a tisane that I used to make back in my blending days!  I made a mocha flavored Mate, mostly because I was looking for something that would satisfy my craving for coffee back then because I was still missing coffee.  As I’ve said before I couldn’t drink coffee any longer, but there were still times when I missed the flavor of coffee.  I certainly didn’t miss the sick feeling I’d get a few hours later though!

Since that time, I’ve come to really love tea more than I ever loved coffee.  That’s probably pretty obvious, huh?  But I still love it when I find a tea or tisane like this one that offers a taste that is reminiscent of that rich, roasted flavor of coffee that I used to enjoy.

And this satisfies that craving!  This tastes very much like a rich, delicious mocha that you might find in one of those super expensive coffee shops, complete with the sweet, nutty flavor of hazelnut and even a touch of chocolate.  I am wishing there was more chocolate flavor to this, though.  It’s got some chocolate, but as I have been known to say, more chocolate is always better, and that’s true with this tisane too.

As it is, though, I found this to be quite enjoyable and I’m really glad that I got to try it.  Another tasty offering from ArtfulTea.

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