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Shu, bit and bit more

Life in Teacup - Sun, 01/31/2016 - 20:06
I noticed some change in my tea drinking pattern. Just several years ago, in 2009-ish, I still didn't get what was in shu puerh that could be enjoyable. Sure I could always drink it, most of the time with food, but I rarely found a shu interesting. Later on, I came across with some interesting shu, and liked shu better. But still, for a long time, I didn't think shu was as interesting as some other tea genres such as green tea, oolong, and sheng!

Then, before I noticed it, I have been drinking more and more shu, and enjoying it more and more. I analyzed my behaviors and now understand why I enjoy shu more and more. The simple truth is, I've come to enjoy more of things warm, mellow and rich in a peaceful way, because I'm AGING!!

I still love green tea with fresh youth in it, and oolong or sheng with aroma and strength. But my body system does not like to take too much powerful tea at one time. On the other hand, my body system could enjoy all day long shu or aged tea that may not have a strong "kick" but have a soothing power. Even with some oolong, red tea or white tea, when I receive some new tea, I no longer feel I have to taste them ASAP. Instead, I would feel it's totally ok to wait for a while, and it wouldn't matter even if I forget about them for a couple of years, because chances are, they are going to get milder - because I'm AGING!

In the past, I've heard people (mostly older guys) saying, if someday, you learn to enjoy tea with aged aroma, or enjoy the Chi in tea instead of just the taste, that means you've come to really understand the dept of tea drinking. Well..., DON'T BUY IN IT!! Them old guys always have something recondite to say, to make themselves sound authoritative and wise. One's tea taste could change with time being, not necessarily because one is gaining a higher level of taste or getting spiritually wiser. It could be, simply, because of aging. If I could still handle 8 types of powerful and aromatic teas in one afternoon, I would do it in a heartbeat!

I'm not against aging. But let's not pretend aging means entering a higher level of human being.

On the other hand, I feel there are a lot of interesting things to explore in the process of aging. For example, I feel I've built up a better friendship with me, and have come to know me better and better. In tea drinking (and other types of eating or drinking), my behavior is less driven by wish, but more by intuition of what would make me feel comfortable and healthy. So when me chooses shu, then let it be!


The Twinings English Breakfast Tea Song

Tea Guy Speaks - Sun, 01/31/2016 - 15:30
Not so bad, as these odes to tea go.

The Breville One-Touch Tea Maker

The Tea Song - by Yorkshire Tea

Tea Guy Speaks - Sun, 01/31/2016 - 15:00
A peppy little number and a whimsical video to go with it, from the good people at Yorkshire tea.

Cuisinart TEA-100 PerfecTemp Programmable Tea Steeper

Tea History at Troy Historic Village: Sharing tea with old and new friends

Barb's Tea Shop - Sun, 01/31/2016 - 04:00
Sharing a cup of tea with Stephanie Suszek, Adult Programs Director
This past Thursday, Barb's Tea Service presented "Tea History and Etiquette" inside the Old Troy Church at the Troy Historic Village to a wonderful group of attendees.  We were delighted to meet new friends as well as see so many familiar faces.

A variety of teas served with styleGuests enjoyed a wide selection of teas, displayed beautifully and served with style.

Tasty treats with a Valentine Day themeIn addition to tea, a variety of tasty treats were presented with a Valentine Day theme.

Stephanie Suszek introduces  the programA special thanks to Stephanie Suszek, Adult Programs Director, for extending the invitation to speak last Fall. This is Barb's Tea Service's third time presenting at Troy Historic Village and it's always an honor and pleasure to be part of this special venue. A true treasure in our neighborhood.

Mary Ann and co. recognize the Althorpe tea caddy
The ladies in the front row, including Mary Ann H., immediately recognized my reproduction tea caddy from the Althorpe collection, home decor inspired by furnishings of the Spencer estate. Mary Ann and company also attended the afternoon tea at Scott Shuptrine two years ago when Lord Spencer paid a visit to Royal Oak. I interviewed Lord Spencer and also Mary Ann for the Examiner. (See also . . . Tea with Lord Spencer).  Great to reconnect with these lovely ladies as well as Kathy B. who was in attendance and had invited me to speak at one of her church's Tranquil Teas back in 2010.

Guests share a bit of tea currency from her own collectionAt the end of the program, one guest brought a reproduction of tea currency to show. It was a very interesting piece from her own collection. Thanks for sharing!


We also raffled off two of our "Michigan Tea Rooms" books and  were thrilled to sell and autograph several more to the event attendees.

Thanks to all who came out last week for the Troy Historic Village's Thursday Teas at Two!


We have a very busy February, March and April coming up. Please check out our upcoming events page on our website, barbsteaservice.com  Hope to see you soon!

Man-Bun Theatre

The Devotea - Sat, 01/30/2016 - 21:12

I was all set to write a post on international relations this week, and then a discussion on ABC24 Breakfast TV caught my eye and ear. I have not managed to find the original source, but apparently, some well-known coffee identity has lashed out at Melbourne’s baristas, suggesting that they are way too laid back, […]

The post Man-Bun Theatre appeared first on Lord Devotea's Tea Spouts.

Friday Round Up: January 24th - January 30th

Tea For Me Please - Fri, 01/29/2016 - 17:00
Five Years in Tea: A Retrospective
World of Tea has been posting some excellent blog posts but this one really drew me in. I almost feel like Jordan is a brother in arms after reading this post, I can definitely relate to a lot his retail experiences.

There Is No Money in Tea
I love a good rant and this one from +Geoffrey Norman was awesome. There's been some major drama going on in the online tea world and I appreciated his unusually diplomatic approach.

New Year's Matcha
+Alexis Siemons waxed poetic about Ippodo's special new year matcha. I can't say that I blame her. Their seasonal offerings are always amazing.

Gifts for Tea Lovers (That Aren't Tea) Part 1
The funny thing about tea enthusiasts is that we don't just drink our tea, we buy it in every shape and form that we can find. Marzipan over at TeaLover.Net put together a great collection of everything from soaps to lip balm and spoons.

Yunnan Noir – Embracing the Dark Side
I love love love finding tea blogs to read. I recently came across a brand new one called Tea and That. They're just getting started but Rory is off to a great start!

Blast from the Past: How Mom and Pop Tearooms can Learn from the Big Tea Players

T Ching - Fri, 01/29/2016 - 08:01

According to Wikipedia, “frenemie” refers to either an enemy disguised as a friend or a partner who is simultaneously a competitor and rival.  I came up with the idea for this post when I was talking to one of my clients earlier in the month.  She told me a story that starts with a large tea company that owns several U.S. stores.  As a customer, she walked in and inquired about yellow tea.  The manager and staff member had never heard of it and asked my client how the tea was fermented.  As my client corrected them about the tea-making process, she was also quick to point out that the store sold a book that explained about yellow yea.  The manager and staff member looked at my client stunned and bewildered.

There is no doubt that the big tea chains and large supermarkets have their place in society.  The point is we all have to start somewhere, don’t we?  My tea education started with the milk-and-two-sugars tea in the UK, and as a BBC (British Born Chinese), I was also brought up on Chinese loose-leaf tea from Chinese supermarkets.  The large chains and supermarkets are a great way for people to start their tea education.  Some people start their tea education there and remain there, but for those who want to explore, this is where mom-and-pop tearooms can pick up where the big chains leave off.  Here are a few ideas that tearoom owners can use to differentiate themselves from the large chains:

Staff Training

I am sure many of you readers were nodding profusely after reading about my client’s story; I know that many of you have similar stories to share.  It is unfortunate that staff training at some big chains is not as high on the agenda as it ought to be, and this is where mom-and-pop tea stores can differentiate themselves.  The outcome of training staff well can be three-fold:

  1. People buy from people. To grow your business, you need to make sure that customers get to know you and when they get to know you and your staff – and, if they like your store – they will tell others.  This can stem from the staff’s knowledge of teas and products.
  2. Motivation. By investing considerable time in recruiting and training the right staff, you will keep your staff motivated and feeling part of the tearoom.  This can also help you with staff retention.
  3. Knowledge. With the power of social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), people will know in an instant how tearoom owners treat their staff; staff training will be a reflection of you and your business.

Community Building

Whether physically or virtually (via social media), many of us strive to be part of a community.  Mom-and-pop tearooms are no different and building a community can do wonders to attract business.  Community building can also create the following:

  1. Customer Loyalty. Stemming from staff training as previously mentioned, customers who feel they are listened to will return.  They’ll bring their friends and family.  And their friends and family will spread the word.
  2. Brand Extension. Community building is not only important in your brick-and-mortar tearooms, but also online.  Using tools such as Facebook (fan pages), Twitter, Four-Square, and blogging, you can encourage community building outside your tearoom.  If customers use their smart phones to talk about your tearoom, it can help to extend your brand to other customers.  (Travel and Teahas a great Q&A article about social media.)
  3. Community Strengthening. The tearoom has the potential to be THE place to meet for small business owners to conduct their networking meetings; for bicycle enthusiasts to meet after their two-hour ride; or for children to hang out after school.  Many coffee chains are renowned for people popping in, sipping coffee, and tap-tap-tapping away on their laptops.  As a tearoom owner, why not create your point of difference by building a sharing community, a place to meet, drink tea, and be social with one another?

For more sound advice for tearoom owners, see Dianna Harbin’s T Ching post.

This article was originally posted to T Ching in February of 2011. But you figured that out based solely on the image of the cell phone, didn’t you?

MAIN | IMAGE 1 | IMAGE 2

The post Blast from the Past: How Mom and Pop Tearooms can Learn from the Big Tea Players appeared first on T Ching.

Tea Pets and the Value of Aesthetics

T Ching - Thu, 01/28/2016 - 08:01

Many of the best-loved tools used in tea will never touch your lips, but they will touch your heart. Tea pets are small, generally ceramic animals, traditionally placed on a tea table during a gongfu cha ceremony, or any intense preparation of tea. They can be simple or complex, beautiful, adorable or all of these things at once. The most common animals represented are frogs, dogs, and water buffalo, but many others exist.

During a gongfu cha ceremony, the first wash of a tea is not drinkable, at least for humans. A tea pet will be very grateful for you to pour your wash onto it. Often, tea pets are made out of unglazed ceramic, which can allow them to absorb a tiny amount of the tea you’re drinking. They exist as a record to many cups. A separate utilitarian property of tea pets is to prevent the shock of hot water from cracking a tea table (through the heat conducting powers of ceramic). Some pets contain a clever hollow inside themselves, and with the application of hot water will blow bubbles, due to the heated, expanding air that leaves them.

To sum it up, a quote from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory:

Charlie Bucket: Candy doesn’t have to have a point. That’s why it’s candy.

 Why does this apply? Because not everything in a tea experience is about flavour or temperature, aesthetics is just as important. If looking at a cute, bubbling frog makes you happy, then it improves your experience.

Looking at a tea experience holistically can be dangerous. A flimsy disposable cup with a bag of faded-label Lipton, topped off with a run to catch a bus added together equals a bad time. However, a small cup of something fresh and green out of a modest but pretty tin, poured from an heirloom teapot onto a tea pet while watching a thunderstorm blow outside, composes a lovely memory.

Tea pets new (right) vs used thoroughly (left) from Crimson Lotus Tea

image

The post Tea Pets and the Value of Aesthetics appeared first on T Ching.

Tea Review - Rosali Tea Milk Oolong and Assam

Notes on Tea - Thu, 01/28/2016 - 00:51
I have a crush on this tea box design. My @rosalitea arrived yesterday. I haven't steeped any of the teas because I wanted to show you the package in its entirety. I'll post photos of the dry leaves and steep liquor here, and check the blog for extended tasting notes. The teas are single-origin milk oolong and Assam, and a blended jasmine pearls green.A photo posted by Notes on Tea (@notesontea_) on Jan 15, 2016 at 10:16am PST

Rosali Tea is a young subscription tea company founded by Rosa Li. The company successfully raised $22,977 in October 2015 using Kickstarter. Teas were first shipped in December 2015. I was lucky enough to receive one of the company's early shipments of tea. In my box were milk oolong, Assam, and jasmine pearls. I will review the first two here.


Milk oolong

I'll start with the milk oolong. I really enjoyed drinking this tea. I recorded two of my three sessions. During the second session, I infused a serving of the leaves six times. The first three infusions were 2 minutes long in 185F water. The liquor was sweet -- honey, almost butterscotch -- and buttery like good popcorn. Also, the liquid was creamy. For the fourth infusion, I bumped up the temperature to 195F and only steeped the leaves for 1 minute. The popcorn flavor was front and center on this infusion but I liked the complexity of the tea at 185F. The next infusion was made at 185F for 2 minutes. The liquor was dry with a lingering (not water) melon flavor. I infused the leaves one more time. The flavors had largely dissipated.



The notes for the first infusion of the second session are: "It's so good! Cream, floral, popcorn butter." I can't say what the flower note was but it wasn't overwhelming. I used the last of the leaves in the pouch, almost 3 grams, in 195F water for 2 minutes. Although I liked the diversity of notes that came out using 185F water in the second session, because I had less leaves for this session, I thought I should use a higher water temperature. The second and third infusions had less wow than the first but the creamy mouthfeel was there. On the fourth infusion I detected steamed spinach. It was a pleasant discovery. The leaves began to mellow out by the fifth infusion. The liquor was still smooth and there were subtle vegetable and butter notes. I made a sixth infusion but this was largely flavorless.



Assam

I also had three sessions from the Assam. In retrospect, I should have used a gram measurement to prepare the sessions for all the teas. It's useful to have a measure (pun intended) of consistency between sessions and across tea types. I received my scale after I began preparing these teas and so I wasn't in the habit of weighing my leaves. Also, I need to find a reliable guide for gram measurements for different tea types.

Like the milk oolong, I only have notes for two of the three sessions. I'm going to share a direct quote from my tasting notes, again. After I rinsed the leaves, I wrote: "What a great smell -- malty, semi-sweet chocolate." I prepared three infusions with 195F water. The first two were 2 minutes long and the third was 3 minutes long. I tasted honeycomb candy during the second infusion! The leaves were exhausted by the third infusion (I should have used more leaves).



Given my experience during the second session, I used a lot more leaves for the third session. I used the remainder of the leaves which amounted to almost 4 grams. (I should note here that the serving size recommended by the company for the oolong, black, and green teas is 1 teaspoon.)  For this session I used 195F water. The first, second, and third infusions were 2 minutes; the fourth was three minutes; and the fifth steep was 10 minutes long. The rinse smelled like milk stout beer! The first infusion tasted of bread dough. It was dry. The honeycomb candy flavor was present too. The second infusion was similar but I tasted banana bread. The leaves had expanded and filled up the gaiwan. In the third and fourth infusion there was a peek-a-boo dried fruit flavor which I couldn't name (and still can't). The Assam is a heady tea; I felt tea drunk by the end of the third infusion. The flavors were starting to peter out so I thought I long infusion was extract more flavor. It did and color too. The fifth infusion was similar to an Irish Breakfast Blend. The liquor was dry and brisk and tasted of dried cherry. The bread dough note reemerged.

Based on my sessions of milk oolong and Assam, I would recommend Rosali Tea. You can subscribe to Rosali Tea here. I look forward to seeing what other teas the company will offer.

Tea box of three teas courtesy of Rosali Tea.

Eco-Cha Da Yu Ling High Mountain Oolong Tea

Tea For Me Please - Wed, 01/27/2016 - 17:00
Country of Origin: Taiwan
Leaf Appearance: deep green, tightly rolled
Ingredients: oolong tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gawian
Liquor: pale gold

There are few things that get me as excited as a really nice Taiwanese oolong. Da Yu Ling in particular elicits oohs and aahs whenever I happen across one. They are getting rarer and rarer these days, especially at higher elevations. This tea was grown at approximately 2,200m. Talk about high mountain! I immediately took to Instagram to capture the beautiful leaves, letting everyone know that I wished there was smell-o-vision so that they could experience the aroma of the tea too. The liquor was thick and almost oily with a somewhat creamy after affect. I just had to keep sticking my nose back into the aroma cup after each and every sip. I couldn't get enough of it!! A refreshingly crisp astringency was balanced by natural sweetness. Pine and green apples came to mind in the initial infusions. This gave way to a more floral lean with subtle hints of stone fruit after the third round. I did at least ten consecutive infusions but I lost track of the exact number. Even after it had lost some of its body I found myself still drinking because of the pleasant aftertaste. Once unfurled the leaves were large and mostly intact. I couldn't resist playing with them in between infusions. This tea is a great example of why +Eco-Cha Artisan Teas is one of my go-to's for Taiwanese teas. Although this particular selection is a pricey one, it is actually worth that price tag.

Da Yu Ling High Mountain Oolong Tea sample provided by Eco-Cha.


I wish Instagram had smell-o-vision so that I could share this amazing Da Yu Ling from @ecochateas with you guys #ilovetea #oolong #sundaysipsA photo posted by Nicole Martin (@teaformeplease) on Dec 13, 2015 at 6:24pm PST





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Illustrated Review: Margaret’s Hope Golden Delight, 2013

T Ching - Wed, 01/27/2016 - 08:01

There is a sad yet beautiful story surrounding Margaret’s Hope Golden Delight 2nd flush tea. Originally, the tea hailed from Bara Ringtong Tea Estate. But, in 1927, the owner caught a vision of his daughter standing in the tea gardens while mourning her sudden death. The gardens in India were named in her honor shortly thereafter. Margaret’s Hope Tea Estate continues to produce delicate, flowery tea in her memory to this day, including the much anticipated 2016 flush.

Simply tealicious, Margaret’s Hope Estate is one of the classic Darjeeling gardens in West Bengal State, India, where the soil and climatic conditions produce the treasured and exquisite taste specifically revered in this black tea. Picked during the second flush––end of May through the end of June––the leaves are long and wiry, black with green tips, holding a full, delicious coppery nose. This crisp, medium body is slightly astringent with deep flavors boasting a complex bouquet reminiscent of jasmine. But, to me, sipping the happy flavors of this golden colored tea felt as though I were drinking liquid sunshine.

When steeping Margaret’s Hope Golden Delight, I was rather generous and measured the leaf as two heaping teaspoons for the infusion. This tea is very forgiving if oversteeped, too. Use six ounces of water heated to 180F for 4-41/2 minutes.

To learn more about Lochan Tea’s latest black tea offering––Margaret’s Hope FTGFOP 1––visit their website.

The post Illustrated Review: Margaret’s Hope Golden Delight, 2013 appeared first on T Ching.

Red Miso's Second Birthday!

Black Dragon Tea Bar - Tue, 01/26/2016 - 21:13
On January 26, 2014, I started my first batch of red miso using the recipe in Sandor Ellix Katz's book Wild Fermentation. I'm sharing the process here for anyone who is also a fan of home fermenting!

First I cooked 4 cups of dried soybeans until they were very soft. I also boiled a clean stone to use as a weight.


This is the koji (rice with Aspergillus oryzae) that I purchased from a local Japanese supermarket.


After the cooked soybeans cooled, I mixed them and mashed them with the Koji and a brine made with 2 cups of the beans' cooking liquid and 1 cup of salt.


I'm fermenting it in my Rumtopf crock. I cleaned and dried the crock, salted the bottom, and then pressed the miso inside (taking care to eliminate any air pockets). Then I sprinkled more salt on the top.


I used a ceramic plate and a heavy rock as a weight.


Then I covered the crock with a thick tea towel, labeled it with the date, and stored it in a dark cabinet in my basement.


Exactly one year later (January 26, 2015), I checked on my miso for the first time. It had a tiny spot of fuzzy mold on top and looked a little bit redder than it had when it started. I scraped off the mold and tasted the miso. It was great but not as mellow as I would like. I sprinkled some new salt on top, replaced the weight and cover, and put it back in the cabinet. (Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures that day.)

Now it's time for my miso's two year check-up. Let's take a look!

Looks great. A wee halo of mold grew around the edge. Quick and easy to scrape that off and toss it in the compost.

Definitely looks redder than last year. Smells good too. My wife and I each took a little taste. Very nice flavor with a delicate caramel note. Mellower than last year too!

I'd say it's getting there! I cleaned it up, sprinkled in some fresh salt and put it back to bed. Sandor's book hinted that the third year (or maybe even later) is when the real magic happens. He teased that some 9 year old Red Miso he tasted was "sublime." Not sure I can wait that long but I will update you all again in 366 days! 
Tasty!

2016 Tea Festival and Trade Show Schedule

World of Tea - Tue, 01/26/2016 - 18:36
January February March April May June July August September October November Not Yet Scheduled

Photo Credit: Terry Madely

Cinnamon Phoenix Dan Cong Oolong from Stylin’ Tea Blends

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 01/26/2016 - 17:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy: Stylin’ Tea Blends

Tea Description:

Phoenix Dan Cong is a premium variety of china oolong teas, grown and processed in Mountain Phoenix, Chao Zhou, Guangdong. Dan Dong Teas are noted for their ability to naturally imitate the flavors and fragrances of various fruits and flowers, such as honey orchid, cinnamon, sweet-potato. According to history record, Dan Cong was served as an imperial tribute tea in Song Dynasty. This Tea is very popular in China, Japan and Southeast Asia.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I was in a mood today for oolong. Been drinking it all day actually. Today was just one of those days were you wanted something rich, comforting, and a bit more complex.

Digging thru my tea stash I stumbled upon this beauty.  The leaves were gorgeous- dark and slightly twisted.  They yearned to be brewed up!

Brewed these up with water prepped at 195 per the steeping parameters and I allowed them to steep for about 3 minutes.  I was greeted with the most marvelous flavor! Rich, deep, well balanced, slightly vegetal, but so incredibly smooth.  This is was of those lush silky teas that give you that whole mouth feel and leave you craving more as soon as you finish your first sip. A gorgeous blend for sure and one that I’ve now brewed up a few times-enjoying each cup.

I can’t say that I picked up any cinnamon like flavors but I did pick up the sweet potato like resemblance and oddly enough the honey orchid profile. Those two flavors mingled together so nicely.  Sounds odd to say that they did but I finished off this tea in no time. A really fabulous tea for those days when you need a tea to comfort you all along your way!

The post Cinnamon Phoenix Dan Cong Oolong from Stylin’ Tea Blends appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

EnjoyingTea.com Giveaway!

T Ching - Tue, 01/26/2016 - 08:01

To give back to our fantastic readers, we here at T Ching have organized a giveaway with EnjoyingTea.com. To join, all you need to do is write a poem or short story related to tea in the comments of this post. We will choose our favorite and feature it, along with the runners-up, in a future blog post announcing the winner.

The winner will receive a porcelain infuser mug courtesy of Enjoyingtea.com.

This giveaway will end on February 29th 2016 with the winner being announced shortly thereafter so don’t wait to enter! Good Luck!

The post EnjoyingTea.com Giveaway! appeared first on T Ching.

5 Things You Should Know About Phoenix Oolongs

Tea For Me Please - Mon, 01/25/2016 - 17:00

Phoenix oolongs are one of my favorite kinds of tea but I feel like there isn't nearly as much information out there about them. When I tried my first Huang Zhi Xiang from +Seven Cups Fine Chinese Teas many years ago I knew that there was no going back. They have reputation for being temperamental but patient tea drinkers are rewarded with intoxicating fragrances and seemingly limitless infusions. I'm planning to post some more thorough information in the future but to get you guys started, here's a quick list of five things every tea drinker should know.

1. The Chinese term for Phoenix oolongs is Dan Cong.
Although to an English speaker it looks like it would be pronounced dan-kong, it's actually more like dan-song. The literal translation is single bush or trunk. While some interpret this as meaning that each batch of tea is made from a single plant, we also have to consider the economic feasibility of that kind of exclusivity. Commercially available Dan Cong is more likely to be harvested from clones of the same tree that are planted together.

2. The long, twisty leaves are what is known as a strip style oolong.
When we think of oolong, we usually picture the tightly rolled balls of Tie Guan Yin or Dong Ding but oolong is a broad and diverse category of tea. The shape is produced through a rolling step that breaks down the cell walls of the leaves. Traditionally this was done by hand but is more commonly done by machine now. Medium oxidization and charcoal roasting are the traditional processing methods but there's a lot more experimentation these days.

3. They can only be produced in the Guang Dong of China.
Guang Dong is located on the southern coast of China. Phoenix oolongs are named after the mountain region where they are grown, Feng Huang Shan, in Chaozhou. The combination of volcanic soil and large temperature changes throughout the day create a tea that is unique to this region. Tea always seems to taste better when it has to work harder to grow. :)

4. They're the doppelganger of the tea world.
Phoenix oolongs are famous for their exotic fragrances that mimic everything from flowers and fruit to nuts. The most common is probably Mi Lan Xiang, aka honey orchid fragrance, but there are hundreds of different fragrances. Ju Duo Zai is a hard to find favorite of mine that is reminiscent of almonds. Most of these teas are named after what they smell or taste like with the possible exception of the dubiously named Ya Shi Xiang. The literal translation is "duck shit fragrance" but it most assuredly does not taste like that (as far as my experience goes anyway).

5. Short, hot steeps are best.
Dan Cong oolongs can be a bit temperamental when it comes to brewing. Very hot water is required to extract the full flavor but it can also lead to bitterness. Although they can be brewed in a western fashion I very much prefer gongfu methods because it provides more control. After a very short rinse I'll usually use boiling water and 30 second infusions. The leaf volume depends on the tea and your brewing vessel. If the leaves are more broken (like the ones you'll find at the bottom of a bag) they are more likely to be bitter so I'd recommending cutting back a bit.

There's an astonishing lack of information on this type of tea available for tea lovers here in the states. One resource that I often find myself turning to is  A Tea Lover's Travel Diary by Jason C.S. Chen. Writing this post made me realize that I completely spaced on posting a review of that book here. I promise to get right on that!

Is there something that you think should be on this list? Let me know in the comments!

Comparing Tea and Chocolate Tasting

T Ching - Mon, 01/25/2016 - 08:01

Comparing tea and wine tasting has come up quite a bit, but what about chocolate?  Of course, I mean specialty bean-to-bar-chocolate, the kind of thing many people aren’t aware even exists.

Some chocolate bloggers are just talking about things like how to bake a nice cake, which is surely very useful, but after some searching I found a chocolate blogger that is thorough and analytical, but still personable and genuine.  The reviews seem familiar, even though the subject is very different from tea.

I’m talking about Lisabeth Flanagan, author of The Ultimate Chocolate Blog.  I might go too far in mentioning it but she even reminds me of one of the tea blogging world’s favorite daughters, who hardly even needs to be named after a scan of Lisabeth’s blog mission statement, but I’ll add the link to that tea blog since some chocolate people may read this.

Of course, the point is that flavor description approach is comparable, and so on, but some of the rest of the results might be shocking to you!

Chocolate reviews:

Tanzania Origin Chocolate by Askinosie: 72% Dark Chocolate

This chocolate bar was creamier in texture than the other two origins, and to me, had and an instant bitter flavour reminiscent of tobacco smoke, spice and dark roast coffee before it opens up to a berry fruit flavour and perhaps dried cranberries. Also, maybe a hint of dried grass. It is my favourite.

For anyone else I’d edit those extra “u’s” out of there…

Use of a similar type of taste-by-taste component analysis is clear in this, and to me it’s a nice touch that it isn’t completely objective, that personal preference is included.  In case you wanted to try this at home here is a link on some chocolate tasting basics.  Same post / maker following:

Davao, Philippines 62% Dark Milk Chocolate + Fleur de Sel (Goat’s milk chocolate):

This is somewhat acidic, lightly salty, and has the taste of soft goat cheese, not as strong as in the white chocolate, but still very apparent. Sometimes I love it. Sometimes not. It depends on my taste buds at the time. It tastes great with red wine.

Almost nothing to break down further here; reference to subjective preference changing over time, a pairing suggestion, coupled with a clear and informal writing style.  If you don’t already love her review style then the problem lies with you.  Of course, I don’t know if I’d like that chocolate, and if I had to pick just one I’d go with the Tanzanian one.

A bit more on texture in the next review, seemingly the equivalent to mouthfeel or body in tea.

François Pralus Chocolate: Intended for Indulgence:

Many of the ‘new school’ chocolate makers focus on minimizing the cocoa butter content, and sticking to ‘two-ingredient chocolate’ for health benefits or to highlight the flavour of the bean. These two ingredient chocolate bars are often stiffer, with a slower melt-in-the-mouth effect. 

Okay, so at some point I’d actually have to try the chocolate to experience that, but I guess I could use my imagination based on having tried Hershey’s Special Dark.

So we’ve got taste description by flavor element, feel, pairing, some terroir scope, but it’s still just chocolate, a few of the same ingredients sourced and blended differently, right?  Not so fast:

…on the Pralus chocolate bar packages, I learned immediately that the Djakarta bar is made from Criollo and Trinitario type cacao, whereas the Cuban bar is made from Trinitario-only beans, and the Indonesia bar is made from Criollo-only beans.

So there’s that; cocoa bean cultivars (or maybe it’s actually cacao; per this reference it’s only called cocoa after you roast it, which involves different types of changes).

Still, you might be thinking, this chocolate is relatively large-batch standard ingredients blended per a standard recipe, nothing like tea leaves that are sourced from a small plot of land, hand picked and processed, then carefully brewed, so that each cup of tea is a natural, unique, semi-mystical experience.  Check out this processing step description, from François Pralus, chocolate maker and owner of his own cocoa plantation in Madagascar:

I brew the cocoa in water, rather like making herbal tea and sweeten it slightly with sugar, then I leave it to settle. This gives me a precise idea of what the flavour will be like before I launch the manufacturing process.

So he seems to be a genius French Master Chocolate Maker; nice!  One product is even described as barres infernales; hellishly delightful.  Sounds good.

Just when you worried this post might end I asked her to cover some questions that dig deeper into comparing chocolate tasting to tea tasting, and then some.  She also makes chocolate related products, which helps explain the depth of these answers.

Comparing tea and chocolate tasting:

1.  my question: Tea tasting often compares tea tastes to other foods tastes, which I also see in specialty chocolate reviews.  To what extent do these seem like subjective judgments to you, that different people would cite different taste elements for the same chocolate?

Lisabeth’s answer:  Certainly chocolate tasting is subjective to some extent. Everyone tastes food differently, and so will relate the flavours they taste in chocolate to different foods. In the case of Madagascar-origin chocolate, for instance, the chocolate is so clearly fruity that most people will identify that as a flavour in chocolate made from cocoa beans grown in Madagascar. But whether they taste raspberry versus grape or lemon, is a whole other thing. What we taste is also dependent on what we eat prior to tasting. It is important to give yourself one-to-two hours without eating or drinking (other than water), prior to tasting chocolate.

2.  Do you experience palate training in tasting chocolate?  That is, does it seem like over time with experience you taste chocolate differently, for example, can identify different flavors, or judge chocolate differently, or is it more a matter of just being able to compare the chocolate to more things you’ve already tried?

With palate training, it is more about learning how to identify and articulate what you are tasting. The more you taste, and compare, the more you will be able to identify the flavours inherently within the chocolate. And over time, you will get better at identifying those flavours. It’s about tasting a lot of chocolate bars, and tasting them against each other (i.e. comparing a fruity Madagascar chocolate to a nutty Ecuador or Venezuelan chocolate, and then to a smoky Indonesian chocolate). It’s also about research, and learning about the origin, the processing, etc. and what may affect the flavour within the chocolate. I imagine tea is the same thing – one change in manufacturing process can change the entire flavour. After a while, you will be able to taste it, and know what is affecting the flavour without needed to do research.

3.  In tea, there may be a normal type of preference learning curve, although that’s not something everyone agrees on.  For example, one might normally start with lighter oolongs and later move on to darker oolongs, or pu’er.  Is there such a thing with chocolate?

Over time, your tastes certainly change. As you are exposed to more and more types of chocolate, you might begin to dislike one of your former favourite chocolate bars, and love a chocolate bar that you may have spit out years ago. Certainly I could not palate chocolate with 85% to 100% cocoa solids 10 years ago, but now I enjoy chocolate bars as dark as those. I now love all chocolate and can appreciate it.  But certainly, if I am to enjoy a 100% dark chocolate, I cannot eat a super sweet chocolate bar just before, or sometimes within a few days before.  I work my way up so my palate is used to the bitter taste.

4.  Tea enthusiast circles are generally positive and supportive groups, but there is also the element of “tea snobbery,” people telling others that “you’re doing it wrong.”  Are there examples of such a thing among chocolate enthusiasts?  Related to that, an article about the Mast brothers products seemed to cover some of the same disagreement over perspective (more background on them here, and that article covering that controversy).

It is all about perspective.  For Mast Brother’s – I believe – the complaint is that their chocolate is not consistent.  So I could go out tomorrow and buy a chocolate bar from them that tastes wonderful.  But in a month I may buy that same chocolate bar and it is not tempered properly, or has a funny taste.

The chocolate ‘aficionado’ community is frustrated because Mast Brother’s gets a lot of media coverage, but perhaps should not be the face of the craft chocolate movement, due to their product inconsistency.  They are worried that Mast Brother’s will become the benchmark, and those that have tasted poor quality chocolate from them will never try craft chocolate again.

I have not tasted Mast Brother’s chocolate myself yet, but I still plan to. They may change their processes and become very fine chocolate makers over time. All that said, there will always be those that take tasting – of any food group – to a snobbery level.  But it is just best to ignore that and do it your own way.  Speaking from experience, you can find your own way over time and become knowledgeable and skilled at it, without always following the common ‘rules’ of tasting.

[editor’s note:  later allegations of the Mast Brothers using re-melted purchased chocolate, and their admission of limited early cases of this, not matching the extent of those allegations, made this subject an active news story at the end of 2015]

5.  What is an example of something you would want to tell others that don’t know anything about specialty chocolate?

Two ingredients is all you need for a perfect, balanced tasting chocolate bar. Three can make it better, sometimes. But beyond that….well, let’s just say that less is often better. So if you are looking to taste fine chocolate, seek out chocolate makers that focus on creating world-renown chocolate bars with 2 to 4 ingredients at most (cacao, sugar, cocoa butter and sometimes vanilla or lecithin). Then taste and research and do that over and over again.  Search ‘craft chocolate’ and ‘fine chocolate’ on the Internet and reference lists, like the bean-to-bar craft chocolate makers lists on my blog, or find some in your area, and taste.  Use brands like Michel Cluizel, Valrhona, Bonnat, Amano as starting points – then move on to others from there.

The post Comparing Tea and Chocolate Tasting appeared first on T Ching.

Five Years in Tea: A Retrospective

World of Tea - Mon, 01/25/2016 - 06:57
After working for American Tea Room for 5 1/2 years, I’ve decided to move forward with my career. Although more familiar than some with the world of tea, since the middle of 2010 I began an obsession, first working as a sales associate for American Tea Room, right smack in the middle of Beverly Hills’ Golden Triangle. After a few years, I worked my way up to Store Manager and became intimately involved with the operation of the brand, eventually assuming the role of Beverage Director, officially, and unofficially as Training Director for all employees. I designed American Tea Room’s Tea Bar menu and helped organize, train, and open American Tea Room’s flagship Art’s District store in Downtown Los Angeles and their Fashion Island store in Newport Beach. Finally, at the end of 2015, I chose to move on from my relationship with American Tea Room.   Here is what I’ve learned in my time dealing with tea nerds and novices, customers and companies, importers, retailers, and the tea industry at large. People Love Tea

This may seem obvious, but I was amazed at the diversity of people who find tea to be something truly special. Since Beverly Hills is the jugular for those visiting Los Angeles to pass through, I dealt with every kind of person you can imagine. Old and young, of every practically nationality, male and female, famous, infamous, or normal. Princes and foreign dignitaries, actors and actresses, writers, bigots and misogynists, producers, lawyers, doctors, farmers, constructions workers, criminals, cat ladies, mystics, musicians and rappers, winemakers and spirit producers, potheads, professional athletes, police officers, war veterans, and everyday folk like you and me. They all have a passion for tea. Tea is the language they all speak to some degree or another. I remember a weary looking Scotsman who wandered into the shop one day and asked for a strong Scottish Breakfast tea. I made him a pot, taking my time to be sure I made it the way I’ve come to know those from the UK like it. I waited as he tried it, fully expecting that he may not approve (they are very particular about their tea). But once he sipped at it, his whole body seemed to release. A smile crossed his face, then he looked at me and said, “I don’t know where I’d be in life if it weren’t for tea.” Something about that statement rang so true to me. And it obviously does for countless upon countless others the world over. Until working in tea, I had never realized how we are all connected by this simple (some would say the simplest) of beverages.

There is a new kind of tea lover out there.

I’m calling them the “New Teaists” (don’t worry, I don’t expect the term to stick, I just needed to call them something). Who are they? They are predominantly younger people, lets say folks between the ages of 18-35 (people who can make their own decisions about where they will buy tea for themselves, in which I am included), they are frequently much more knowledgeable about tea than the layman, and are passionate about learning. When people want a caffeine boost, the overwhelming fact is that more Americans are turning to tea every single year, whereas coffee consumption has leveled out. What percentage of this total are New Teaists I don’t know, but I can tell you that they are informing the specialty tea market, whether they mean to or not. It wasn’t always seen this way, but when I was growing up tea drinking seemed like a foppish hobby, or something lonely cat people do, or the pastime of stodgy old ladies, or for people who are really into incense, yoga, and Asian tapestries. Now, it’s seen as the next boom in drink culture. Ask a New Teaist if they were drinking tea regularly five or six years ago and almost none of them were. Now, they know teas and tea regions by name like Tie Guan Yin or sencha or Darjeeling and will ask for them regularly. Everything that a younger generation is turning away from, i.e. mass production and commercialization, hasn’t been relevant to the tea industry in America in the last few decades the way it has been with other drink genres (coffee, beer), thus it remains an open playground for everything that the New Teaist is interested in, e.g. direct retailers, transparent information, and smaller brands that seem crafted to suit their needs and tell a story about the tea and the kind of people that drink that tea.

Everyone likes their tea a different way, and that’s okay.

There is a temptation among some, perhaps influenced in some part by the meteoric rise of third wave coffee ideologies, to hold tea to a standard of purity and force people out of their comfort zone. Does this make much sense? Not really, and a surefire way to make tea drinkers angry is to tell them that they aren’t doing it right. Lets relate this back to coffee: The idea behind wanting coffee to be tasted as pure coffee, without additions, is partially based on the fact that people were already drinking coffee. They simply weren’t aware of the beauty and nuance of the coffee itself because of poor experiences in the past. More importantly, the tradition of coffee in America is one of drinking coffee black, thus its purity is something to be reclaimed. But when it comes to tea, the issue is more complex. America lacks a strong tea culture (besides iced tea, which only Americans want) and the void is filled by the multi-cultural influences of the world. People have their own traditions, history, and culture when it comes to tea and it doesn’t really benefit anyone to tell someone of Indian heritage that spices shouldn’t be in tea, or that they shouldn’t add milk or sugar to it. It doesn’t please someone of Lebanese descent to have their tea brewed to a perfect, unadulterated strength if they wanted it bitterly strong so as to sweeten it considerably. And it certainly won’t make someone with English roots happy to have their English Breakfast brewed in a gaiwan (Yes, I’ve seen this done) when all they really want is something strong and malty, like Yorkshire Gold. Warm encouragement is what people need to try a new kind of tea, or a new preparation of their favorite tea. But this is exactly where I see some in the tea industry trying to push things, including some New Teaists. Dictating such standards, such as all matcha has to be made in a chawan or all heicha absolutely has to be made gongfu style, only serves to raise a barrier around the customer and cement the idea that other kinds of tea aren’t accessible except in some foreign realm of tea drinking. Which brings me to…

I’m not yet convinced that the tea industry is cohesive enough to tell a story that will resonate with consumers enough to compete with other beverages.

But I’m very optimistic! A kind of unification needs to exist; a kind of standardization of terms and concepts. The disparate parts of the industry can be so completely varied, confusing, and contradicting that there are basic concepts that took me the whole length of my tea career to grasp. Cohesion is easier said than done, but not impossible. For instance, why isn’t it an industry standard to use proper pinyin for Chinese words? From my experience working with people who like tea and want to know more about it, I know what works on a person to person level. What will work on an industry-wide level, and how will it be implemented? I have no idea. Needless to say, tea being accessible to a larger market and a wealthier market is fairly dependent on it. As it is, many brands simply go with their best instincts or clever ideas rather than trying to look at the tea industry at large and create equilibrium. Simply look at the unification of terminology and ideas in the specialty coffee market, or in craft beer, or the entire world of wine! They are beautiful for their complex, but structured, organization and you very rarely see producers playing outside of these boundaries, which is why so many do so well. I fully understand that tea is a different matter due to the challenge of unifying terms in multiple Asian languages and that these other beverages have the benefit of being predominantly Western. But that shouldn’t stop us from trying, and indeed it might be imperative in order for tea to take hold on a larger scale in not only America but the world.

So many people have gotten into loose leaf tea!

Which is a huge step and is probably the only time you’ll hear me speaking well of Teavana, in that they have been a huge influence in getting people to make tea loose. But… so many more people still have no idea how to make loose leaf tea. The teabag is the reigning piece of tea technology and may never go away. In response to a demand for better quality tea, many tea brands have decided to simply create more ‘elegant’ teabags instead of casting off the burden altogether and living free. And don’t even get me started on the deplorable world of capsule tea brewing… Furthermore, those that end up trying to steep loose leaf tea generally do not care about the brewing method, water temperature, or steeping time. Excuse me, they don’t want to care about these things, since they come from a world indoctrinated by the convenience of teabags. How do you get people to change? Start with the flavor: Insist that if they’ve never had a cup of loose leaf tea, then they’ve never had a cup of tea like it. The depth of flavor, the quality, and the craftability are unbeatable. Then, once they start to moan about how difficult it is to make a cup of loose leaf tea (and they will moan), insist that you can make a cup of loose tea in exactly the same amount of time it takes them to make a cup of teabag tea. They will doubt you, claiming that is it difficult, but relate it back to the most basic formula for tea the world has ever known, written by none other than the master and semi-creator of the Japanese Tea Ceremony, Sen no Rikyu: “Tea is nothing more than this: heat the water, prepare the tea, and drink it properly. That is all you need to know.” In essence, hot water + tea = tea you drink. The tea bag works as a strainer for the tea leaves, so all you need is a vessel to strain to the tea through. Ask them if they’ve ever made pasta. Yes? Then they can make loose leaf tea and its ten times easier. Finally, when they state that the steeping time and water temperature can’t be that important and they’d rather not bother with it, ask if they like the taste of what they’re making? If so, no need to bother. But remind them that time and temperature are always important. Why do we bake bread at specific temperatures? Why do we cook steaks different lengths of time? Because bread needs a specific temperature to speed up the yeast conversions, the caramelization, and the Maillard reaction to give the loaf its unique flavor and consistency. Similarly, steak needs to be cooked at a specific temperature for the Maillard reaction to occur, and how long you cook it is dependent on your taste, but generally people can agree that a steak tastes better when it’s not pitch black. If these recommendations fail to convince them, they might just be unreachable (although I’ve had quite a few late-life converts). Ultimately, it will be up to the New Teaists to change hearts and minds about making tea in the future.

Consumers will absolutely pay for high quality tea, if the story is right.

Occasionally, it’s possible to get ‘whales’ that come in and simply want whatever your best tea is, which to many of them simply means your most expensive tea. Tea has finally entered the realm of the luxury culinary item and many consumers won’t bat an eye at paying $20 for tea. Over $50 and the story needs to be included. Over $100 and the tea needs to be described like a work of modern art. What makes this tea special? The answer is always “quality and rarity”, as it is with any luxury item, but they want to hear more than that. Where did it come from? Who makes this tea? How was it processed? What are the tasting notes? How do you feel when you drink it? What does the name mean? The answers to these questions may not seem novel, but to a new consumer of quality tea, how they identify with the answers are what makes the tea worth it. Access to top quality tea does not necessarily mean that people will like it, but the goal is have one or two of them stick. It’s also important to remind them that flavor profiles need to be built in the brain over time. The first time someone tries a heicha will most likely not be their favorite time drinking it. Whether it’s the story of the tea that captures the customer, or growing region, or the taste, or the way it makes them feel, so many people burgeoning into the high quality tea market haven’t ever had access to the range of teas now available. That being said, some people will absolutely not pay for high quality tea. The perception of tea as a “cheap” commodity, on par with rice or wheat, is a hard one to beat and many simple don’t believe that tea can be anything special. Imagine someone trying to sell you rice at $100 a bag. How good could it possibly be, right? Yet, this is exactly how many feel about tea, that it is almost a human right to have tea (and who could blame them?). I believe it’s important not to make people feel bad about this perception though. It will be up to us and the New Teaists to drive the market towards higher end teas and the inevitable power of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) will either lead these people to try a more expensive tea, or they will be too old to care.

People want tea to be a panacea.

There is a danger in that. When selling an expensive high quality tea, as mentioned above, the story of that tea should never include statements like, “Helps fight off cancer,” or “Helps fight diabetes.” It is my personal conviction that tea should never be sold as a “Disease Smasher!” or a “Cholesterol Terminator!”, but unfortunately, some in the tea industry have hit upon this as a good way to sell a product. Inherently, tea is seen as a healthy beverage, and I absolutely, wholeheartedly believe that tea is wonderfully healthy. But this general wisdom can lead people to think that tea is medicine, which it is not. Should you drink tea to be generally healthy? Absolutely! Should you drink tea because it will prevent you from having heart attacks? Absolutely not. One of the more poignant examples I can give involves a customer who used to come into the Tea Room. Occasionally, she would bring her brother, whom looked a bit sickly. I came to understand that he had cancer and was dying. She frequently bought him lots of tea and mentioned to me her inherent belief that it would help fight his cancer. I tried my best to keep her expectations realistic, mostly by focusing on the quality of the tea and the soothing properties of it, but she doggedly stuck her belief that it would help. I never told her that it would help with her brother’s cancer and even had to tell her at one point that it probably wasn’t going to help and the doctors he was seeing were the real answer. Sadly, a few months later, he had died and she came in one last time to let me know. I was very sorry to hear it. This, believe it or not, is a story that I have experienced a number of times. Can you even imagine what she might have felt, or how I would feel if I had told her, even once, that tea helps fight cancer? That it would fight the free-radicals in his body if only he drank enough of it? I believe the problem becomes apparent when you are faced with a direct human consequence like this. It seems harmless enough to advertise a tea as a “rejuvenation tea”, and when scientific studies are taken out of context, allowing people to draw flawed conclusions, it’s easy to justify this. But when someone comes back to you and tells you that the tea they bought was supposed to lower their father’s cholesterol and then they died from a heart attack, what could you possibly say to make amends? Once again, don’t misunderstand me: I truly believe that tea is part of a healthy lifestyle. But preying on people’s primal fears to sell a product I believe to be wrong. First off, it’s illegal to make health claims that aren’t backed by the FDA and you can get into trouble for it (which has led to all sorts of vague tea descriptors, like ‘recovery tea’ or ‘purifying tea’). Secondly, it’s enabling people’s unfounded beliefs and distracting from the real problem. If someone wants to loose weight, they should probably start exercising and eating properly, not drink more tea.

Many people, especially in large cities, still have a generic fear of non-organic, Chinese-grown, or irradiated Japanese tea, whether justified or not.

What a producer absolutely can and probably should do is make sure the quality of their tea is extraordinary and have the documentation to prove it. Make sure your tea is certified organic, or if not certified, knowingly grown with high standards. It has already happened to a large extent, but we have to keep the pressure on to encourage farms to migrate to these practices. Perhaps have testing done on your Japanese tea? Many Japanese distributors already provide this documentation, but if they don’t, request it of them. I find it hard to believe they would refuse, and if they do, doesn’t that say something? Make sure your Chinese tea is fairly traded and that you know who grows your tea (pictures are helpful). There should never be a double-layered smoke screen around where your tea comes from. If you don’t know where it’s from, there’s a bigger problem than simply making sales. New Teaists will generally ask questions about these things. Novice tea-goers will not, but in creating the story for your customer, these are details that put them at ease and encourage them to buy. 

British people think they know everything about tea. They are wrong (sorry Brits, I still love you all).

Chinese people think they know more about tea than anyone else. They are right.

Americans still have a ways to go in the world of tea, especially in restaurants.

It’s probably one of my biggest gripes about tea in a modern city! I can go to a top-rated restaurant, have an amazing meal that costs me three figures, and when I ask for tea they throw me a cheap 5-cent tea bag. I see that they have a $3,000+ espresso machine behind their bar for coffee aficionados, but they couldn’t even bother with a teapot for me. The worst of it is, on the rare occasions when I’ve talked to restaurants about setting up a tea program, they’ve been extraordinarily resistant. Why spend money sourcing tea, equipment, and training on something that seems like an afterthought for most people? Cafés have gotten better at this, but still don’t have it all down pat. I’ve been to many a café where they make their coffee like pros, but when I order tea, I get tossed a teabag in near-boiling water. Why take so much trouble to make one thing expertly and then half-ass the rest? Or, even if they do take time to make their tea with care, they store all their loose leaf tea in giant glass containers! I’ve pointed out to owners before that I can taste within a few days if tea has been stored in glass as opposed to in dark caddies (I swear I was trying to be helpful, not pretentious) and that it would do a world of good for their quality if they switched. I was promptly accused of insinuating that they don’t know what they’re doing and that their café is very successful so they don’t need to change. I’ll be fair, it’s not their fault and they’re right. They’re right in that I was insinuating that they don’t know what they’re doing, but not their fault in that the demand for quality tea in restaurants and cafés is simply lacking. Quality coffee has been in demand for decades now, but the idea of even serving a teapot at a restaurant or café seems novel. We have to demand better tea when we go out to eat. I’m not saying you should go to your local Caribbean place and demand a high-mountain oolong. But if you frequent a good restaurant that has tea, and it is obviously the weak link, try suggesting a quality boost? Think about it, out of every category of beverage, what is almost always the lowest priority at a restaurant? Liquor, wine, beer, coffee, tea. Some restaurants have begun this change and I applaud them. But I want to have a tea menu at a restaurant to choose from. I at least want to know that if my options are limited, the tea will be prepared with care. It takes all of us working together to drive the change in the market that we want. I can see the future now…

Tealand - British Tea Documentary

Tea Guy Speaks - Sun, 01/24/2016 - 16:00
"Tealand is a documentary on tea houses in Britain. From quaint tea houses in Dorset to Mr Scruffs Tea Bar in Manchester, including an interview and music from the man himself."

Teas Hope - Tea Shop

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