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Word Tea Expo 2016 - The Booths

Tea For Me Please - Mon, 06/27/2016 - 16:00

This year got a bit hectic so I wasn't really able to see much of the show until the very last day. Jason and I hit the show floor hard as soon as I got out of +Darlene Meyers Perry's morning session on teaware. Going systematically row by row, I somehow managed to see almost everything. It was lucky that he brought his backpack because it was quickly filled with purchases and samples. In this post I'll list some of my favorite booths from the expo.

BitacoI first discovered this purveyor of Columbian grown tea (that's right, not coffee!) at last year's expo. They were kind enough to send me home with lots of samples so I'll be sharing those with you all soon.
Eastern ElmI'm a sucker for beautiful teaware and Eastern Elm's booth drew me in every time I passed by. Although I tried to be good a gaiwan and derpy teapet still managed to follow me home.
Gorgeous puerh wrappers at Denong's boothDenong Premium Puerh TeasI was exhausted and tea-less at the end of the second day. With 15 minutes left to the show, I grabbed +Geoffrey Norman and told him to bring me to tea. I instantly felt better after sipping some really great sheng puerh at Denong's booth. Their staff were so sweet and friendly to boot. I couldn't stand going home without some of their tea. They were sold out of the one that I had my eye on but I did bring home some Elegant Tranquility. They threw in a pretty little puerh pick which caused the TSA to open my checked suitcase but thankfully it still made it home with me.
Nepal Tea LLCIt figures that I would go all the way to Vegas just to find a tea outfit in my backyard. I tasted some really nice Nepalese teas that are produced by a coop of small farmers. What struck me most was their initiatives to improve the lives of the farmers. More than 200 of them are provided free housing and a scholarship program has paid school tuition for more than 2,000 children.
Tsou-Vayiyana Alishan High Mountain TeaLeave it to +Geoffrey Norman to lead us to an amazing fermented Taiwanese high mountain oolong. Not only was I crazy about the tea but I also finally had a chance to been Greg Glancy of Norbu Tea. I've been a fan of the teas he carries for years so it was a real treat.

The leaves, they smelled awesome!
The tea being expertly prepared for us
I was in love with this piggy lid rest
Teforia doing its thingTeforiaIt was great to see the Teforia in action again. Jason even said he'd buy it for me (if we win the lottery). I really haven't had any tea maker wow me in quite the same way. Although it does carry a pretty hefty price tag, it does so many cool things! The level of customization it offers the end user is unheard of in the tea world.
Qi AeristaI'm always on the lookout for new tea gadgets and this one definitely caught my eye (once +Rachana Rachel Carter and +sara shacket told me that I had to see it). Think Breville One-Touch but with next level technology and a smaller footprint. I'm really excited to see what they do in the coming months.

Royal Tea NYI was very much impressed by the teas offered by this new wholesale outfit. There are so few places on the east coast for tea stories to find quality products. I'm happy to have someone I can confidently refer people to.
Young Mountain TeaIt was so nice to finally meet Raj of Young Mountain Tea in person. He's seriously one of the nicest guys in tea and his team was super sweet. I have some of his Kumaon White headed my way from the Tea Journey Kickstarter and I can't wait to dig into it.

The spread of delicious teas at Young Mountain Tea
Harendong Organic Tea Estate
I've been a fan of the teas produced by PT Harendong in Indonesia for some time. Their organic black tea smelled amazing. Even on a busy floor with lots of aromas we could smell the tea in the gaiwan. That first cup of black tea was exactly what I needed at the moment. They also offered samples of cold brewed medium oolong and they were incredibly refreshing. I was beyond flattered when Melanie told me that she reads my blog. Tea really is a world-wide and I love it can connect me with someone in Indonesia without my even knowing about it.
Harendong Organic Tea Estates' offerings

Joseph Wesley Tea ImportersOne of my favorite tea companies made the trip all the way from Detroit. I was really excited to see some of their new limited edition teas. We usually associate them with black tea but there was white tea, green tea and oolong to oggle at their booth.

ScentoneOne booth that really caught my eye, especially as someone who tastes a lot of tea, was Scentone. They manufacture aroma kits that help to train your palate. Similar kits are used in the wine and coffee worlds. I'm excited to see the possibilities for tea education.

Scentone aroma testersThese smells were spot on
There really was so much to see that I could go on forever. I'll leave you all with a picture of everything I brought back with my from expo. If you attended World Tea Expo, I'd love to hear about your favorite booths in the comments!

My World Tea Expo haul
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Illustrated Review: Summer Simmers with Gong Ting Pu’erh

T Ching - Mon, 06/27/2016 - 07:00

Can a hot cup of tea really cool you off?

The answer to this question is steeped in science–it all comes down to sweat. If you have a larger amount of sweat, this means more cooling for your body, and this cooling counteracts the small amount of heat contained in a hot beverage relative to your body. The bottom line is if you are experiencing a hot, dry day and you’re wearing loose clothing that allows your sweat to evaporate easily, then drinking hot tea will cool you down.

However, if you find yourself in a humid location with your hot cup of tea, the tea will not cool you down. The cooling of a hot beverage combined with sweat only works if you’re in an arid climate

One wonderful summer day, I chose to cool myself with a tealicious Gong Ting Pu’erh. Let the summer simmer as you enjoy a reddish brown liquor that tastes like raw, sweet chocolate. Steep Gong Ting Pu’erh for 2-3 minutes at 95C–do not over steep this one. Enjoy up to three infusions.

Gong Ting Pu’erh was acquired from SpiceTrekkers.

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

The post Illustrated Review: Summer Simmers with Gong Ting Pu’erh appeared first on T Ching.

'Michigan Tea Rooms' now available at Four Seasons Tea Room!

Barb's Tea Shop - Mon, 06/27/2016 - 00:24

Four Seasons Tea Room opened all year round in downtown Houghton
We are excited to share the news that Michigan Tea Rooms, our book of our favorite tea venues in Michigan, is now being sold at Four Seasons Tea Room in Houghton, Michigan.

Michigan Tea Rooms now available at Four Seasons
Located in the Keweenaw Peninsula, in a city home to Michigan Tech University, this tea room has something for everyone. We first met up with co-owner Andrea Schuldt in 2010 and we were immediately charmed by this venue with its fun and pretty  decor and amazingly delicious menu offerings.

Charming decor

Delicious afternoon tea fare
And, yes, most certainly, they are among the twelve tea rooms in our "Steeper by the Dozen" series, Michigan Tea Rooms.

Four Seasons  gift shop. Lots of fun tea items -and now Michigan Tea Rooms
If you are visiting the upper peninsula, you must stop at this tea room. In addition to tasty food and inviting ambiance, they have a gift shop with lots of  fun items - and, now Michigan Tea Rooms.

We plan to visit this year. We will let you know when we do!

For more information on this delightful tea room, visit their website: fourseasonstearoom.com.  They are open all four seasons!!

Eden from Soleil Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Sun, 06/26/2016 - 08:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: Soleil Tea

Tea Description:

Eden is a premium black tea blend scented with aged Tahitian vanilla extract and Madagascar Ylang Ylang. The liquor is richly floral with warm notes of vanilla beans and sweet spice.

Native to tropical rainforests, Ylang Ylang is known for its intoxicating fragrance akin to jasmine and neroli. Mature blossoms are picked at sunrise and steam distilled to extract the highest quality essential oil. Ylang Ylang has long been used to lower high blood pressure and promote relaxation in aromatherapy.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:


I’m eager to try this blend from Soleil Tea as I don’t think I’ve tried Ylang Ylang in a tea before. I think I’ve probably tried some kind of a body wash with Ylang Ylang scent of some kind, but I’ve never eaten it. The scent of this tea is really lovely.. quite delicate and sweet. It reminds me of a very floral perfume.

Sipping… I’m really enjoying the floral notes of this tea and the way they blend with the black tea base. Normally I avoid flowers in tea since they can be too strong, but those in this blend are quite mild. It’s a strange because they remind me a little bit of bitter orange peel, but also give off that nectar sweetness I find in most floral teas. One thing that I wish I could taste is the vanilla. It seems to be missing, unfortunately, and the focus is on the Ylang Ylang instead. I also don’t taste much of the Fujian black tea either. It’s mellow, a little watery and slightly boring.

I think this would be a great choice for someone who is just getting into blended teas and who wants to try something floral. The flavors are soft, but present. This is a very unique tea that I’d recommend especially to those who haven’t tried Ylang Ylang yet!

The post Eden from Soleil Tea appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

Penang: Over and Out

The Devotea - Sat, 06/25/2016 - 23:10

My last blog – before the Pictorial Interlude – ended with Lady Devotea and I in Little India, Georgetown, Penang, hailing a cab to go back to our accommodation. Over dinner, we’d discussed the idea that we would do something in morning and then head back to take it easy for a few hours before […]

The post Penang: Over and Out appeared first on Lord Devotea's Tea Spouts.

A Pictorial Interlude

The Devotea - Fri, 06/24/2016 - 21:34

My last blog post was a bit of a teaser on our last night in Penang. Then… nothing for two weeks! I’m sorry about that. A combination of lack of time and illness and then technical difficulties at my scheduled blogging time meant I missed last week’s entry. As I work to rectify that, I […]

The post A Pictorial Interlude appeared first on Lord Devotea's Tea Spouts.

Moonlight Beauty Raw Pu-erh Loose Tea From Teavivre

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 06/24/2016 - 18:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Raw Pu-Erh Loose Leaf

Where to Buy: Teavivre

Tea Description:

The moonlight beauty tea is developed by the local Yunnan tea makers based on the continuous summarization and deepened understanding of the new trend of pu-erh flavor. It is a new breed of pu-erh tea. Made of the tender buds of large-leaf tea and processed with the method similar to that of Fuding White Tea. Moonlight beauty tea has a rich bouquet and clear yellow soup broth. As for as taste is concerned, this tea has a smooth, pliable, sweet and fresh mouthfeel without any bitter note.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Thank you Angel from Teavivre for sending me this sample to try.

I love the name of this tea, Moonlight Beauty sounds so pure and happy. The website says that though this tea is a raw Pu-Erh it is also similar to a white tea due to the processing of the leaves. You can see the similarity when you inspect the leaves.

In appearance the leaves are long and fairly thin with lots of downy hairs. They are a very pale green, almost white colour and they bare a soft, fresh scent of grass and pepper. Enough to smell like a Pu-Erh but living up to it’s subtle nature. The leaves are also crisp to the touch and could easily be broken into small pieces with fingers.

I will be using 5g of leaf in a 220ml teapot with boiling water. 

First Steep – 1 minute 

After the first steep the leaves now smell malty and wooden, a real contrast to their dry form. The tea also shares hints of wood and malt, with pepper and sweet pine. The liquid is very light yellow.

In flavour this is more subtle than it smells. The first thing I notice is the smoothness of a fresh pine and sweet peony notes. The after taste is dry and slightly nutty. It actually reminds me of a Bai Mu Dan white tea in flavour.

Second Steep – 2 minutes 

More peony and slightly sweeter than the previous steep, though just as mild. More drying in the after taste too. It tastes like spring rain drops that have landed onto flower petals, that imagery is in my mind every time I sip.

Third Steep – 3 minutes

Slightly sour during this steep but with a creamy finish and just as much peony. It has to be said that the dryness is somewhat spoiling it’s subtle elegance.

Overall – I am not a fan of white tea usually and that is exactly what this tea reminds me of. It’s not very Pu-Erh like except for the peppery, wood notes in the leaves once you start to infuse it. That being said it was still a pleasant and non offensive tea. I don’t think I could drink it all the time though, it’s just too mild for my personal taste. I imagine it’s great to keep hydrated with on hot summer days though. I also imagine that the mild nature of this tea would make it rather forgiving should you over steep it. Essentially it remained very similar throughout all three steeps.

Thank you again Angel for the opportunity to try this tea.

Until next time, Happy Steeping Everyone!

The post Moonlight Beauty Raw Pu-erh Loose Tea From Teavivre appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

Friday Round Up - World Tea Expo 2016 Edition

Tea For Me Please - Fri, 06/24/2016 - 16:00
All of my World Tea Expo coverage will be coming out next week. This week's round up should get you all through until then. These brave souls managed to get their blogs up right away. There will be a part 2 to make sure that we don't miss anyone next week!

Niu Gu: Tealet After Hours (World Tea Expo 2016)

My Japanese Green Tea
World Tea Expo 2016
World Tea Expo 2016 Part 2

Oolong Owl
Oolong Owl Hoots the World Tea Expo 2016 – Day 1
Oolong Owl Hoots the World Tea Expo 2016 – Day 2
Oolong Owl Hoots the World Tea Expo 2016 – Day 3
Sunday Tea Hoots 22 – Tea Binge and Withdrawal
Oolong Owl’s World Tea Expo 2016 Hooty Haul

Scandalous Tea
World Tea Expo 2016

Steep Stories
Tea-Fueled Las Vegas Tourism

Steph's Cup of Tea
World Tea Expo: New Product Showcase and Regional Events

The Tea and Hat Lady
Immersed in Tea

Blast from the Past: Kukicha Citrus Pacific Sole

T Ching - Fri, 06/24/2016 - 07:07

I often combine my passions and this tea adventure – a combination of tea and food – was no different.  Kukicha, a green tea, has great citrus notes that I thought would go well with the fish I was going to make for dinner.  The marinade I describe below can be made with any tea and ingredients you desire.  The beauty of cooking with tea is that once you learn the basics, you can incorporate them into your favorite recipes.  I used the first infusion for the marinade and I drank the second with dinner.


The kukicha marinade
2 tablespoons of Rishi Tea Organic Kukicha green tea (I can’t help but love Rishi!)
8 ounces of water
1 orange
1 lime
1 lemon
Grated ginger (to taste)
¼ cup of chopped cilantro
1 sliced jalapeno
3 sprigs of green onion, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

The rest
1-1/2 pounds of wild-caught Pacific Sole fillets
1-1/2 cups of shiitake mushrooms
½ cup of oyster mushrooms
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons of butter
Dash of salt and pepper

Prepared rice


1.    Set oven to 350 F.

2.    Make Kukicha green tea.
a.    Boil water (212 F).
b.    Let water cool to 185 F.
c.    Add 2 tablespoons of tea to 8 ounces of water.
d.    Steep 2-3 minutes.
e.    Pour tea into a bowl.
f.    Make Kukicha green tea.

3.    Make Kukicha marinade.
a.    Squeeze the juice of 1 orange, 1 lime, and 1 lemon into the bowl with the brewed Kukicha.
b.    Grate a piece of ginger.
c.    Add the chopped cilantro, chopped green onions, and sliced jalapeno.
d.    Add a dash of salt and pepper.
e.    Set aside half a cup of the marinade for the mushrooms and bell peppers; the rest is for the fish.

4.    Bake fish.
a.    Place cleaned fish in a shallow baking dish.
b.    Add a dash of salt and pepper to each fillet.
c.    Pour the marinade over each fillet.
d.    Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
e.    Lay each fillet on a greased, flat baking sheet.
f.    Bake for 20 minutes, or until the fish is opaque.

5.    Saute vegetables.
a.    Melt butter and add the chopped garlic.
b.    Saute the garlic, and then add the mushrooms and bell peppers.
c.    Saute for 2 minutes and add the remaining marinade.
d.    Cook for an additional 3 minutes.

Serve with rice and enjoy!

Make your second infusion of tea and enjoy with dinner!

This article was originally posted to T Ching in June of 2010.

The post Blast from the Past: Kukicha Citrus Pacific Sole appeared first on T Ching.

Book Review + Recipe: 'New Tastes in Green Tea', by Mutsuko Tokunaga

Notes on Tea - Thu, 06/23/2016 - 18:48
New Tastes in Green Tea © 2004, 2010 by Mutsuko Tokunaga. Photos by Kenji Shinohara
Matcha might not be the new chocolate but I have not disliked any matcha drinks, dishes, or desserts I have consumed. I have reviewed a couple of matcha cookbooks and what distinguishes Mutsuko Tokunaga's New Tastes in Green Tea from the other titles is the attention to Japanese green tea culture and matcha's place within it. The book is divided into four sections and two of these provide extensive detail about types of Japanese green teas, how to prepare them including tea utensils, and the cultivation and processing of green tea in Japan. The book is not limited to Japanese green tea, however. Ms. Tokunaga  provides a short history of tea and how different teas are processed. You will find recipes for contemporary sencha, gyokuro, and matcha drinks as well as blending herbs, black teas, and flowers with green teas. In a separate section are the recipes for dishes and desserts. There are five matcha spreads, many savories, and several cakes and sweets.

The flow of the book could be improved if drink and food recipes were consolidated in one section. I appreciate the compactness of the book but it does not stand out among other more traditionally sized cookbooks on my shelf. New Tastes in Green Tea contains numerous photographs but in the world of tea and cooking bigger might be better. It is worth noting that I have a 2016 paperback edition and it's likely that the 2004 hardcover edition is more substantial in terms of overall size and photo presentation. Overall, New Tastes in Green Tea is well written with a balanced mix of science and prose and well-placed and illustrative photographs.

New Tastes in Green Tea © 2004, 2010 by Mutsuko Tokunaga. Photos by Kenji Shinohara
I am sharing one of the matcha drink recipes from New Tastes in Green Tea with you today. The drink is Matcha Coconut, pictured bottom left. It is prepared with matcha, milk (I used whole cow's milk), coconut milk, and sugar. You could probably use the milk and sweetener of your choice. The finished drink was delicious though it was not photogenic because the coconut milk separated. Next time I will use coconut cream to achieve a smoother consistency. I could taste the earthy green notes of the matcha which were balanced by the cream flavor and texture of the two milks. The amount of sweetener called for was just enough to round out all the other ingredients.

Matcha Coconut Drink
serves 1

1 tsp matcha + 2 tsp hot water
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup coconut milk
1 Tbsp sugar
a little aloe or any cut fruit

1. Mix the match and hot water, and stir briskly until the paste becomes smooth.

2. Add the milk, coconut milk, and sugar, adjusting the proportions according to taste.

3. Serve garnished with diced aloe of your favorite fruit.

Recipe courtesy of New Tastes in Green Tea © 2004, 2010 by Mutsuko Tokunaga.

The next recipe I will share on the blog is the Matcha Yogurt Sour, pictured bottom right. One of the ingredients is condensed milk. Don't miss the recipe! Subscribe to Notes on Tea.

P.S. For more recipes check out my review of The Healthy Matcha Cookbook and The Matcha Miracle.

Favorite Tea Ware - Linda Gaylard, The Tea Stylist

Notes on Tea - Thu, 06/23/2016 - 16:27
As a tea drinker, and I am sure this is true for you, I adore teaware, from the bombilla to the whisk (aka chasen). Everyone has their favorites! This series showcases the favorite teaware of folks in the tea blogging community as well as people who enjoy drinking tea. Today's guest is well known in the world of tea. I am excited to present Linda Gaylard's favorite teaware. Linda is a Certified Tea Sommelier, author of The Tea Book and the blog The Tea Stylist, and a former wardrobe stylist.

I have hundreds of pieces of tea ware, so it was a fun exercise for me to chose just five. I have prep vessels for different types and styles of tea for tasting as well as sentimental pieces and items that I use during tea sessions and classes. Some I use only as props for photoshoots. I’m always looking for new places to display them as I’m quickly running out of storage space.

Small glass teapot
This little glass teapot is the work horse of my collection. It may be fragile, but it has been used thousands of times since I purchased it 7 years ago. It has no chips or cracks, which one worries about with something that seems so fragile. Holding only 12 oz it’s just the right size to fill two teacups, so it's good for sharing between 2 people. I like the fact also that I can admire the colour of the tea's liquor through the glass.

Handleless cup with saucer
I don't know the provenance of this set as it was bought at rummage sale, but from what I've been able to discover, it may be close to 200 years old and quite likely from a pottery in England. This style of set was made from mid-1700's to the early part of the 1800's. Cups from this period were made to resemble the first porcelain cups that arrived with tea from China. They were adapted as larger cups with deep saucers that were often used to cool the tea. Every time I use this set I imagine the stories around its decades/centuries of use.

Porcelain kyusu
Handmade by Quebec ceramic artist Reynald Sauve, this exquisite kyusu has a perfect pour and well calculated balance and its tiny strainer holes block any leaves from entering the cup. I use it for Japanese Sencha green tea. Its little sister is a sweet factory made kyusu with an ingenious tubular strainer that circles the interiors walls of the pot, catching the leaves while the tea is being poured. Perfect size for tiny cups of Japanese Gyokuro.

Blue and white rice grain gaiwan
This may be a run of the mill gaiwan that I purchased in Los Angeles Chinatown, but it has a nice light feel and refinement that makes it easy to handle when pouring. I also like its "rice grain" pattern which gives it a transparent quality.

Japanese flower cup
This sweet little cup has travelled many places with me. It’s been to Europe, China and South Korea as well as throughout Canada and the US. It was given to me as a set of 5 from my son’s girlfriend. There are only 2 left – a blue one and a brown one which I travel with (shown). It is just the right size for holding on a plane or train. It is so nice to drink from a porcelain cup rather than a paper cup. I wrap it in a linen cloth to keep it from getting damaged.

The idea of teaware used only for props in photo shoots seems so luxurious. I am in the market for a kyusu so it is useful to read about features that work well. Thank you Linda for sharing some of your favorite tea vessels with us. And all the best for World Tea Expo 2016. All photos and stories courtesy of Linda Gaylard.

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Favorite Tea Ware - Boychik

Notes on Tea - Thu, 06/23/2016 - 16:26
As a tea drinker, and I am sure this is true for you, I adore teaware, from the bombilla to the whisk (aka chasen). Everyone has their favorites! This series showcases the favorite teaware of folks in the tea blogging community as well as people who enjoy drinking tea. It's a pleasure to share the favorite tea ware of "boychik". After joining Steepster four years ago, boychik's tea preferences changed from Assam/Ceylon/Darjeeling and English Breakfast/Earl Grey to Chinese teas (Puerh, Honcho, Yancha) though currently she's "exploring Taiwanese oolongs". Boychik described tea and teaware as obsessions. The teaware shown in this post have all been featured on her Instagram feed

Jian Shui Kyusu

This kyushu is from Yunnan Sourcing. Jian Shui is excellent for shou (I like it more than Yixing for shou or aged Sheng). It's thick, retains heat well and has a nice pour, no leaks.


This shiboridashi is by Greenwoodstudio on Etsy. It is 80ml. It is perfect for sampling any teas since its glazed inside. The size is convenient, pours quickly, no leaks. It is easy to hold, I prefer shibo to gaiwan. It doesn't burn my fingers. I use it all the time.

Ruyao teacup

This ruyao teacup is from White 2 Tea Co. Thick and heavy, retains heat well, very comfortable to hold, doesn't burn my fingers because of ridges.

Damascus steel pu knife

I got it on Aliexpress, after stubbing myself with pu pics (I have several). While they are okay on loose or medium pressed cake, they don't work on iron cakes. This one is a life and hand saver. I don't sacrifice my blood to pu gods no more!

See another view of this knife here.


I always measure my tea. I have my own parameters and try to stick to them. I'm not good at guessing if I got enough rolled oolong or if this chunk of pu is 10g. If my tea session wasn't great at least I know how much tea I should use next time to make it work.

Thank you Inna for participating in this series. I'll keep my eye on the Greenwoodstudio on Etsy for their shiboridashi offerings. Also, between you and a few other puerh fans, I know to use 10g of the tea! All photos are courtesy of boychik. The text was edited slightly.

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Libre Tea Tumbler Giveaway!

T Ching - Thu, 06/23/2016 - 07:35

Calling all tea lovers!

We are running a giveaway with our friends at Libre Tea to give away a 14oz Insulated Tea Tumbler!  These are great for cold brewing tea or bringing tea with you on the go!

The giveaway will run until July 31st, 2016 and a winner will be picked randomly.  The contest is open to anyone in North America, and the tumbler will be shipped by Libre Tea.  To enter, follow the instructions on our Gleam giveaway below, and get extra entries by visiting T Ching every day, and by following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

TChing Libre Infuser Tumbler Giveaway

We will not sell your information to any advertisers or spam you in any way.  Actually, we don’t even see anyone’s personal information, with the exception of the one winner who we are able to contact.

Good luck to everyone!

The post Libre Tea Tumbler Giveaway! appeared first on T Ching.

A Look at Black Tea Leaf Grades with Emrok Tea Factory

Tea For Me Please - Wed, 06/22/2016 - 16:00
Emrok Tea Factory emailed me earlier this year and asked if they could send some samples of their Kenyan black teas to get feedback. It had been a while since I tried any African grown teas so I was definitely game. I thought this might be rare chance to be able to show you all the differences between the different black tea grades.

First up to bat was two teas from their specialty tea line. SFTGFOP1  (Super Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe) and FTGFOP1 were both very nice teas. In both cases, the leaves were mostly unbroken. If I didn't know any better, I might have thought that these were from Darjeeling. There was even a hint of muscatel in the taste along with a pleasant citrus-like quality. The two teas were very similar, even when drinking them side by side. I would say that the FTGFOP1 has a slightly duller liquor with just a touch more astringency.

Kenyan teas have a reputation for being high volume but lower in quality. It's really encouraging to see that change is happening. I was also touched to find out about all of the good that Robert and Emily Keter have done for their community. They even support a rescue center for girls who run away from female mutilation and forced childhood marriages.
Emrok Tea Factory has also started a new commercial orthodox line (plucking standard of one bud and two leaves). I was originally going to split this all into multiple blog posts but I thought there might be beneficial to have all of the teas in one place. As you can see, the differences between the grades are subtle.

CTC - Bracing and astringent but not unpleasant.
Pekoe - Full bodied but considerably smoother
Orange Pekoe - Smooth with very prominent citrus notes
GFBOP - More aromatic, fruity with some astringency
GFOP - Complex with less astringency than GFBOP, muscatel aroma
SFTGFOP - More robust than SFTGFOP1, still had nice muscatel notes

The Citadel Tea Report

T Ching - Wed, 06/22/2016 - 07:00

To be completely honest, when I received the samples of the tea offered by Citadel Tea for this review, I was not expecting to be impressed. I try to avoid bagged tea at all opportunities and I have to admit that my pre-existing thoughts of teabags left me with painfully low expectations. The tea sold by Citadel tea has left me pleasantly surprised and with a great affordable option for drinking tea on the go.

Sourcing their teas only from Ceylon, they actually offer quite a unique range. All of Citadel tea’s flavor infusions are approved by the FCC and are completely natural according to the company’s website.

The leaf material used in the 100% biodegradable tea bags is good and on par with many other Ceylon or India-grown loose teas. The tea is packed in well-designed cardboard boxes with a resealable plastic bag for the tea inside.

Their collection of “wellness” tea features unique blends of tea and herbs to create very interesting flavor profiles.

The following is a brief description and review of the Citadel Tea offerings that I’ve tried.

Green Tea

Citadel’s green tea is unique in that it is grown in Ceylon like the rest of the company’s offerings. Before this, I have never been in contact with a Ceylon-grown green tea, and after trying this one, I may want to find more. The flavor profile is clean with a mineral aroma supported by a thick, smooth body. Grassy notes are present making this a very refreshing summertime drink.

Bael Flowers and Green Tea

I found this one to be the most interesting. It is my understanding that Bael flowers are renowned for their health benefits but having never tried them before, I found this tea to remind me somewhat of dill-pickle-flavored potato chips… It was a bit of a shock taking a sip of this one but I think it would be nice to drink alongside a salad of some kind.


This relaxing blend is very well-executed. It strikes a perfect balance between mint and lemongrass that calms both the mind and body.


The leaf material for this one is very colorful and visually striking from the blend of various herbs. The liquor is dark and the body is smooth and thick. This naturally sweet tea-and-herb combo is light with a gentle kick of ginger adding some spice.

Green and White Tea

The scent and liquor color coming off of this one is fantastic. The light green liquor matches the light and crisp flavor profile very well. Because this blend is made up of green and white tea, using cooler water temperature for brewing will help to maintain the tea’s natural sweetness as well as bring out the lighter, more subtle notes that can be missed if using higher temperatures.

Earl Grey

Citadel Tea’s earl grey is on par with most of the other loose leaf earl grey teas out there. It brews reliably and consistently with the Bergamot adding a light acidity to counterbalance the black tea’s robustness.

While it won’t replace the puerh or oolongs I drink Gongfu style, I find it to be perfect to throw in a mug with some hot water if I’m in a rush. You can’t go wrong with Citadel tea if you need a quick, convenient option for good tea on the go.

Until August 31st, you can use the coupon code “cnradlm-002” to get a 5% discount on Citadel Tea orders!

The post The Citadel Tea Report appeared first on T Ching.

Organic standards

A Tea Addict's Journal - Wed, 06/22/2016 - 03:51

Everyone likes the idea of organic foods. No pesticides, natural fertilizers, etc. What’s not to like?

Well, cost is the first issue. An organic farmer who doesn’t use pesticides is going to have productivity issues. For tea, it can be a pretty devastating drop in overall production. Mr. Gao from Shiding, who grows tea more or less wild on his farm, once told me that his yield is about 10% of what other farmers around him get. A more “conventional” organic farmer in central Taiwan told me that he’s probably getting 30-40% of what he would if he were to farm things conventionally. If you go to the farms you can see the bugs and the weeds – things that hinder productivity in terms of raw tea production. Leaves that are bitten may have that interesting taste, but when whole trees are decimated by bugs that are eating almost all your buds, then you’ve got no tea left to make that beautiful Dongfangmeiren with.

Which means this is all going to cost more. So on the one hand, we love the idea of organic teas, but on the other, are we willing to pay more for it? The taste difference may or may not be apparent – there are so many factors involved in tea production that it’s hard to judge exactly what’s due to the farming methods and what’s due to craft post-harvest. Also, if a farmer’s productivity is only 10% normal, are you really going to be willing to pay 10x the price to get the same amount of tea? That can get quite expensive very quickly.

Conventional farmers, who are still most of them, don’t really seem to think there’s much of a problem. The price pressures of cheaper alternatives – in Taiwan’s case, Vietnam teas and lowland, machine harvested teas – make it so that they feel they just need to maximize the production to get what they can out of the farms. These are not farmers making a lot of money selling a few kilos from supposed ancient tree teas in Yunnan. Regular teas in Taiwan is not very expensive and they harvest 5-6 times a year just to make costs and make a living. The transition to organic methods is very tricky and involves a few years of really low production as the farm recalibrates to a new normal. From what I understand, that’s not an investment most people are willing to make.

More interestingly, during one of my conversations with a farmer who does some organic farming, he said it would actually be better if the organic standards were loosened a bit. At first this sounded counter-intuitive – wouldn’t that be worse? But he has a point as he tried to explain to me. Basically, right now the standards are fairly stringent. That’s great for those of us who are worried about things like pesticides, etc, but in many cases these small-plot farms are right next to other farmers that are practicing conventional farming methods, often farming things that aren’t even tea. If your next door neighbour sprays pesticides, you need them to tell you the day before so you can prepare. You want to make sure that they don’t end up on your tea that then end up in the sample bag that gets sent to the testing centers for organic certification. His argument was this – stringent standards makes it too hard and too risky for people to transition. If you tried, and then failed, then you just invested a lot of time and lost income for basically nothing. That’s not good – and especially no good if you weren’t the one cheating, but you just got caught up because something happened around you. So, his logic goes, if the standards were a little looser, more farmers would actually try to participate and in the end, more organically farmed teas will be available, which is better for everyone. It wasn’t what I expected, but it was a refreshing look at this issue.

It’s Time to CHILL!

T Ching - Tue, 06/21/2016 - 07:00

Japan boasts a tapestry of some of the most beautiful seasonal landscapes in the world. Imagine the snow covered pagodas of Kyoto in winter, then the entire country turning pink with cherry blossoms, to water cascading down the mountains after the rains in June, to a canvas splashed with burgundy, burnt sienna, and Mikado yellow in autumn.

It’s now June and while the seasonal landscape is absolutely gorgeous, in reality, you have to be a virtuous monk to survive a summer here. The heat and humidity are so high and relentless that book pages are always soggy, mosquitoes dive bomb even the dog, and your skin is sticky from June to September. Then just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, that favorite tea beverage you’ve been sipping for most of the year has suddenly gone AWOL from any café or restaurant menu!

We are into our second summer running the Chiki Tea café in Kyushu, and I now know exactly why menus are so sensitive to the weather over here. The ever-present moisture makes baking simply impossible. Ice cream melts 10 seconds after being pulled from the freezer and condensation is a given which is Matcha’s silent killer!

Sensitive Matcha needs special care in summer as moisture and condensation on the tin can suck the freshness right out of it.

Chiki Matcha Tip: Wipe your tin and allow it to come to room temperature before opening it. Trust me, your Matcha will love you for your patience.

We did our best to deal with these logistical challenges but our customers just cared about cooling down! So last summer we went back to the drawing board and re-engineered our entire menu. Here are two of our most popular summer drinks to help you stay cool this summer…

Enter Frosteas and Iced Matchaccinos…

Some of you may be familiar with the term “Mizudashi” in relation to Sencha. Mizudashi means “cold brewing” and the best Mizudashi Sencha comes from using leaves specifically produced for cold brewing. This involves a deeper “firing” in the final stage to yield a stronger brew when extracted in ice or cold water. Using standard Sencha often produces a slightly stale or even fishy odour and taste.

The Chiki alternative to Mizudashi Sencha is Iced Kabusecha. When we first tried this, everyone was surprised at the true depth of flavor and thickness of brew! Kabuse means covered (or shaded) and the range we carry, hails from Chiran, Kagoshima, where the Sakurajima volcano burps ash into the atmosphere on a regular basis (a good thing for tea – think mineral rich!). Don’t worry, our farmers wash the tea before processing it!

To re-engineer our “Mizudashi”, we needed to think out of the box…literally! Our ice box needed as much space for keeping everything from chocolate chips to ice so having huge containers of iced tea was NOT an option! So here’s what we did…

Single-serving Iced Kabusecha:

• Steep 10g of any Kabusecha in 200ml water at 75ºC for 1 minute
• Pour into a shaker (we use Ball Mason jars)

• Add a couple of ice cubes and shake vigorously to cool the tea and diluting the tea concentrate

• Shaking it produces an evenly chilled tea with a foamy head

• Add extra ice and ENJOY!

Iced Matchaccinos and summer are synonymous. Our regular Matchaccino uses steamed milk to give that special froth. For the iced option, we use a HARIO milk shaker. Beware using strongly flavoured milk such as almond and coconut milk as these can smother the delicate Matcha notes. Even rice milk can come through a little strong. Dairy or soy milk is the best for this recipe.

To make a Chiki Iced Matchaccino:

At the café, we use a mixture of premium grade and culinary grade Matcha to get our signature flavor. If you want to keep it simple, our MYSTIC is going to be fine. Make it in the order below – this is key to avoid lumps!

• Add 100ml cold filtered or bottled water to a lidded jar

• Add the Matcha (we use 3g), a few ice cubes and shake it like crazy!

• Add about 6oz milk and a dash of vanilla essence – shake it again!

• Add a few more ice cubes and set the drink aside

• Pour milk into the HARIO milk shaker and shake to get the frothy top – this takes practice so don’t panic if your foam ends up on the counter or floor first!

• This puppy is best enjoyed with fun coloured straws and good friends!

The post It’s Time to CHILL! appeared first on T Ching.

What Tea and Social Media Means to Me

Tea For Me Please - Mon, 06/20/2016 - 16:00

Last week was spent in Las Vegas at World Tea Expo (you all expect in-depth coverage next week). It's an event that I look forward to every year, mostly because it's a time of connecting in person with those who I usually only converse with online. I thought this might be a great opportunity to share my thoughts about what tea and social media mean to me. The topic is particularly timely because I just gave a seminar on this very subject.

When I first discovered tea, I was living in a bit of a vacuum. Dorming at a college about forty miles away from home meant that it was just far enough that I didn't get to see my friends and family as often as I would have liked. Not being able to share my newfound passion for tea with anyone nearby led me to turn to the internet in search of knowledge and a sense of belonging. I found that almost immediately on Twitter. It was so exciting to find real people who were even bigger tea nerds than I was at the time. I'm a rather shy by nature so exploring tea online suited me just fine.

I wrote reviews for Teaviews.com for a number of years but decided to give tea blogging a try after discovering a couple of the tea blogs that existed back then. It was never intended as a serious endeavor. +Tea for Me Please started out as a log of my personal tea experiences. It actually came as a shock when other people started reading what I was posting. Since then I've connected with some truly amazing people around the globe through blogging and using social media. There is a core group of fellow tea bloggers that have become more like a family (you all know who you are!).

For this reason, social media is so much more than analytics and the number of followers. It's how I explore tea and connect with my readers. It has also provided an opportunity to form friendships that I would have struggled to find otherwise. An introvert like myself is very unlikely to speak in public. I was beyond nervous while doing it but I was able to push past those insecurities in large part because of connections formed on social media. Seeing so many familiar faces in the audience was more reassuring than I can find the words to explain.

What do tea and social media mean to you? I'd love to read your thoughts in the comments!

Mason Jar

T Ching - Mon, 06/20/2016 - 12:30

There is not a need for another post on “Mason jars” when so many have already been written. The Atlantic’s article The Mason Jar, Reborn, published on September 24, 2015, entertains and enlightens readers with not only historical information but also the author’s personal experience with this ubiquitous object:

– The Mason jar, created in 1858, was named after its inventor John Landis Mason, a New Jersey native.
– In early 20th century, the Ball Corporation mass-produced the jars etched with the company name “Ball.”
– The Mason jar experienced renaissance a few times, including the World War II era, and quite noticeably in recent years.

The ribbed neck and screw-on cap that create an airtight seal are without doubt the invention’s most noteworthy features and achievement.

A sigh was my first reaction to seeing tea being served in a Mason jar, or was it an eye roll? I approached the shopkeeper to request a menu and was told that if I were to bring back the jar and order another cuppa, I would receive a 5% discount. Since I had not had tea from a Mason jar yet, a purchase must be made. It was not until the tea was prepared and the cap was placed that I realized my jar could have been used and returned by any stranger. I asked the shopkeeper how the jars were washed and cleaned at the premises. Sensing my inquiry’s legitimacy, the honest shopkeeper pointed at a regular household dish-washing machine. Right away I lost all desire to own that jar. Two other customers stood behind me – the jar must have enticed them to wait in line like it had enticed me moments earlier.

Subconsciously I must have wanted to get rid of the jar. I poured some hot water in it a few weeks later; it broke in half and went straight to the trash can.

The story of ‘All My Trash Fits in a Single Mason Jar’
is much more interesting than drinking tea from a Mason jar.

Though readily available for purchase online, according to the company’s website, the Ball Corporation no longer manufactures the glassy canning jars that we all take for granted.

The post Mason Jar appeared first on T Ching.

Why Tea Shouldn't Be Made in K-Cups

Tea For Me Please - Fri, 06/17/2016 - 16:00

Can tea be made in K-Cup? Of course it can! That doesn't mean that it should though. I've tried them while staying in hotels across the country, at friends houses and in office break rooms. Convenience sells but I'm here to tell you that K-Cups are quite possibly the worst thing to happen to tea since the invention of the tea bag. I don't mean to come off as a tea snob but they simply don't work. Here's why:

They're Poor QualityWhile it's certainly possible to make a K-Cup with a high-quality tea, it just isn't very likely to be found on the market. The whole principle behind the product is for them to be cheap (albiet deceptively in the same way that tea bags are priced) and quick. I can very easily find a cheap, drinkable loose leaf tea and brew it myself for pennies a cup. Why would I pay someone more than that for a lower quality alternative?

Tea Needs to Be SteepedCoffee is generally prepared by grinding the beans into very fine particles and pouring water through. Tea, on the other hand, needs to be steeped in water for a specified amount of time. Even when using gongfu methods, the water is not poured immediately through. It is impossible to extract all of the flavors that tea has to offer in this way.
There's No Temperature ControlTeas often require different water temperatures, especially when it comes to more delicate varieties like Japanese green teas. Keurig's website states that the optimum temperature for coffee, tea, and hot cocoa is 192 degrees. Even if the machine is accurate, that's too hot for green tea and too cool for a lot of black teas and herbals. I've actually measured the dispensed temperature on a few different models and they actually vary quite a bit.
Your Tea is Going to Taste Like CoffeeEven after running several water only cycles to rinse the machine I can always still taste a faint hit of the coffee that was left behind. Coffee has a very strong flavor that usually sticks to whatever you make it in. While coffee in tea is definitely a thing (dirty chai lattes are awesome!), this is generally something most tea drinkers want to avoid. I've also had the unpleasant experience of accidentally running hot water for tea through someone else's used coffee pod. Yuck!
What do you think about tea in K-Cups? Have you actually tried any that are decent? Let me know about it in the comments!

If you're looking for easy ways to brew tea, check out my post on How to Brew Loose Leaf Tea.
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