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Sweetfern Tonic Tea from The Algonquin Tea Co.

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 01/03/2015 - 23:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Herbal/Functional Tisane

Where to Buy:  Algonquin Tea Co. 

Tea Description:

Delicious daily tonic formulated to assist every major organ in the cleansing of toxins. Immune boost and detox. Great iced tea. Tastes similar to black tea

Learn more about this tea here.

Learn more about subscribing to Postal Teas here.

Taster’s Review:

The above description suggests that this tisane tastes similar to black tea.  And despite this ‘promise’ – I found myself still hesitant to try it because … well, because it’s a tisane.  And I know that I’ve mentioned more than once or twice my apprehension when it comes to tisanes.

But I finally decided that it was time to try it.  So, to brew this, I measured out three bamboo scoops of the tisane into the basket of my Breville One-Touch tea maker and added 500ml of water to the kettle.  Then I set the temperature for 195°F and the timer for 7 minutes and I let the tea maker do it’s thing!

I let it cool for a few minutes before taking the first sip.  And yes, it does taste a bit like black tea.  More accurately, it tastes like a ‘thinned’ black tea with herbaceous notes.  Like maybe someone took half a cup of black tea and topped it off with an herbal tisane.

It’s actually quite pleasant to sip.  And this tea has a few “pros” to it:  a) there’s no hibiscus!  Yay!  b)  it has echinacea which is a fairly well-recognized herb that boosts the immunity system.  c) it’s pretty tasty.

Unlike many tisanes I’ve had in the past, this tisane is more like a unified flavor of all the components.  That is to say – this tastes like one flavor and I’d find it difficult to discern the different flavors/ingredients of the blend.  I taste a gently warm flavor to it – like a subtle spice.  I notice a slight “root-beer-ish” kind of note that I attribute to the burdock.

But other than the “thinned black tea with herbaceous notes” – that’s really all I can taste.  I taste a thinned black tea, herbaceous flavors, warm, subtle spice and a hint of root beer.  It’s a tasty tisane.

The brochure from Algonquin that was included in this edition of the Postal Teas box suggests that tea is an effective “cleanser” or detox type of tisane and this is a detox tea that I wouldn’t mind drinking now and again because it does have that black tea + herbal tea taste to it and I’m finding it to be pleasant.

One thing I gotta say about Algonquin, their packaging is beautiful!  If I saw these packages in the store, I’d definitely be tempted because the artwork is stunning and as I’ve said before, I’m a sucker for artwork!  The packages that we got from Postal Teas are not as lovely as what I see on the Algonquin website, but if it wasn’t for receiving this 9th edition of Postal Teas, I probably wouldn’t have discovered the beautiful artwork!

The Humorous Incident

The Devotea - Sat, 01/03/2015 - 22:22
In a blog post I am writing, and have been writing for a while, I mention The Humorous Incident. Not the Hilarious Incident, not the SideSplitting Incident, but just a Humorous Incident. As I didn’t want to insert the details into an already lengthy blog, I’ve decided to relate it here. And thus: On the […]

Taiwan GABA Oolong Tea from Fong Mong Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 01/03/2015 - 11:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Fong Mong Tea

Tea Description:

GABA tea is an all-natural source of GABA. It was discovered more than 20 years ago by Japanese researchers looking for a natural method to preserve food. They discovered that tea which is oxidized in a nitrogen-rich atmosphere has a higher concentration of GABA elements than any other types of tea.  

GABA tea production involves exposing fresh tea leaves to nitrogen instead of oxygen. The fresh tea is placed in stainless steel vacuum drums and the oxygen is removed and replaced with nitrogen. The tea leaves are exposed to this nitrogen-rich atmosphere for about 8 hours. The temperature must be kept above 40 degrees Celsius for the duration of the processing. This procedure produces the highest concentrations of natural GABA.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Of the different Oolong types that are out there, I think that the one I’ve had the least amount of experience with are GABA Oolong teas.  To my recollection, I’ve had fewer than a handful of GABA teas.

But since it is an Oolong and not a “flavored” one, I’m going to brew it the same way I’d brew other Oolong teas:  in my gaiwan!  I “eyeballed” an amount of tea leaf that looked to be about a bamboo scoop.  I didn’t use the bamboo scoop because this leaf is so large and bulky and stemmy that it wouldn’t measure properly anyway.  So, I just eyeballed it.

The reason this tea is kind of “stemmy,” according to Fong Mong Tea:

The twigs contain the most enzyme. For the healthy purpose, we kept the most twigs for our tea consumers. 

I heated the water to 180°F.  I did a preliminary rinse of the leaves (15 second steep, then I strained the liquid and discarded it) and then I steeped the first infusion for 45 seconds and added 15 seconds to each subsequent infusion.  My first cup is comprised of the combination of infusions 1 and 2, the second cup is infusions 3 and 4, and … you get the drift.

This does taste different from the Oolong teas I’m typically drinking, but there are some familiar flavors here too.  It is sweet and nutty with delicate notes of spice.  It has a lighter flavor than a lot of Oolong teas – this doesn’t have that heavy “creamy” taste and texture that so many Oolong teas have.  There is some creaminess to this, but it’s much lighter.  I like the texture – it’s refreshing.

So it started me wondering, what is GABA Oolong, anyway?  I found this information on the listing for this tea in Fong Mong Tea’s ebay store:

GABA is an amino acid that is produced by the human body. GABA stands for Gamma-aminobutyric acid. Its main function is to inhibit the firing of neurons in the brain. Because of this inhibitory function, GABA sends messages to the brain, spinal cord, heart, lungs, and kidneys to slow down.

The second cup was a bit darker in color than the first and the flavor was also stronger.  It has a strong nutty flavor to it, and a roasty-toasty quality.  I’m picking up on subtle peach notes now.  The spice notes are more pronounced in this cup, I can taste mild notes of cinnamon and it’s quite nice!  Very autumnal tasting, this tea.

My third (and final) cup had a smoother taste, where the flavors – nutty, toasty, peach and spice – seemed to come together in a seamless flavor.  It’s quite pleasant and relaxing to sip.

A really lovely cup of Oolong.  Different, yes.  But different can be good and it is definitely good in the case of this GABA Oolong from Fong Mong Tea.

Spiced Orange Iced Black Tea from Southern Boy Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 01/02/2015 - 23:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Southern Boy Teas

Tea Description:

Premium Organic black tea with organic flavors.

Learn more about this tea here.

Learn about SBT’s subscriptions here.

Taster’s Review:

Yum!  This tastes like a “holiday” tea blend – only iced!  It has a great flavor with the warm spices and the burst of orange.  It’s a little sweet and a little spicy and I love the way the bright citrus notes perk up the flavors of the spices.

The black tea base is flavorful and has a refreshing yet bold, brisk flavor.  This isn’t your average black tea that you’ll find in the yellow, white and red box in the supermarket.  (You know which tea I’m talking about, don’t you?)  You can taste the quality in this tea.

It isn’t overly spiced.  But I can definitely taste clove and cinnamon.  The photo above shows star anise but I don’t taste it.  I don’t really taste a strong presence of any spice – it’s more like a zesty medley of spices to add some depth to the iced tea.

I like the way the spices accent the vibrant orange taste.  Like the spices, the orange isn’t overdone.  There is a really good contrast between juicy orange flavor, lively spices, and brisk tea notes.

It may not be as unusual as “cotton candy” or “garlic toast” iced tea but this is a tasty, flavorful, refreshing iced tea that will quench the thirst and it has a certain holiday flair to it, making it seem quite alright to be drinking iced tea when it’s chilly outside!  This is something that I’ve started doing over the last few years – keeping a pitcher of iced tea in my fridge even in the cooler months.  A few years ago, I limited my iced tea brewing to the warm months when I really needed some cold drink waiting for me in refrigerator, but now I’ve come to embrace drinking both hot and cold teas year ’round.

And this tea would be great any time of year!

Friday Round Up: December 28th - January 3rd

Tea For Me Please - Fri, 01/02/2015 - 17:00
Dobra Tea Pittsburgh:"Memories of Prague", Chai and Mochi Bethany over at All tea. No crumpets. visited a tea place that has been on my to do list for some time. Someday I'll have a car and I'll be able to visit all of these far off places. Why do you choose your teaware? I was pleasantly surprised to see a new post from +Adam Yusko in my feed. We share an affinity for Hagi Yaki and Wabi Sabi Nicole Martinhttps://plus.google.com/103097147251455801975noreply@blogger.com0

Back Seven: LuYu Visits a Tea Water Well

T Ching - Fri, 01/02/2015 - 13:01

On a cold winter night
A friend dropped by.
We did not drink wine
But instead drank tea.
The kettle bubbled,
The coals glowed,
The bright moon shone
Outside my window.
The moon itself
Was nothing special –
But, oh, the plum-tree blossoms!

Tu Hsiao Shan
(Song Dynasty)

Loading Image:

This post first published on the blog January 18, 2008.

The post Back Seven: LuYu Visits a Tea Water Well appeared first on T Ching.

Tink’s Fairy Dust White Tea Blend from Tealee

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 01/02/2015 - 11:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  White

Where to Buy:  Tealee

Tisane Description:

There’s something magical about this aromatic combination of soothing ingredients. Perfect for the moments you find yourself day dreaming about Neverland.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

The dry leaf aroma is absolutely beautiful!  I smell strong notes of lavender and I love the way they meld with the lime leaves.  Lovely!

To brew this tea, I used my Breville One Touch – yeah, I don’t usually use my Breville to brew white teas, but because the leaf is a little smaller here, I felt comfortable using the Breville this time.  I measured 2 heaping bamboo scoops into the basket of the tea maker and poured 500ml of water into the kettle.  I set the timer for 3 1/2 minutes and the temperature for 165°F.  Then I let the machine do it’s thing.

The brewed tea is almost as beautifully fragrant as the dry leaf.  This is a tea that you want to inhale deeply when you lift the cup to your lips – smell it first! – and then take a sip.  It will make the experience even more enjoyable!

Nice!  I was a little worried when I smelled the strong lavender – I worried that maybe the lavender had been overdone.  Too much lavender ends up tasting too perfume-ish or soapy and even though I love lavender, I don’t want to drink something that tastes like I should be bathing in it instead.

Fortunately, the lavender is just right!  It is strong enough to offer a powerful aromatic experience but not so powerful that I am not able to enjoy the flavor as much as I enjoy the fragrance.  This is really lovely!

The lavender is the strongest flavor of the cup, and it has a sweet flavor that is distinctly lavender.  Sweet and floral, but not perfume-ish.  When I drink teas with lavender, I feel an almost instant “calming” effect and I don’t know if that’s because my brain knows that it just drank lavender and lavender has that effect on me, but I’m starting to feel that – I feel relaxed and as I continue to sip, I feel myself becoming more and more calm.

The lime leaves taste light and citrus-y, and this citrus note is especially noticed in the aftertaste.  I can feel a distinct “lime” note on my tongue – as if I just had tasted a tiny bit of lime.  I like the way the lime notes play with the lavender – it’s an unexpected but delightful flavor combination.

The white tea is a delicate flavor.  It’s soft and sweet.  It’s a nice base for these flavors, because a more aggressive tea would be less “calming” and I like the way the lavender is soothing me.

A really pleasant blend!  Tealee has some really enticing tea blends on their website.  Lots of teas to explore!


A Tea Addict's Journal - Fri, 01/02/2015 - 09:39

Time passes of course, and every time you make tea you have to consider that passage of time. Unless you’re making some abomination like instant tea powder, the amount of time you allow the leaves to interact with the water changes what your cup will taste like. Unlike coffee, which has many ways of brewing that more or less take time out of the equation (hello drip coffee), tea usually asks you to pay attention or you can suffer a nasty cup of astringency, especially if you’re dealing with run of the mill teabags. So controlling time has always been an important part of tea making.


One way to do it of course is to use timers. These guys at Revolver in Vancouver, typical of many coffee joints, do it with timers (and cups that leave no space for tea leaves to move – you see them behind the chemex, but that’s another matter). I didn’t watch them for hours, so I don’t know if they make adjustments for different kinds of tea. A tightly rolled Taiwanese oolong would need probably 10 seconds to just open up, whereas a black tea will be well on its way to bitterness by then. In a cafe setting, you only get to drink once, so if it was screwed up, it’s over. Getting it to be palatable without under or overbrewing is very important. I can see why a cafe that brews the tea for you will need a timer.

Gongfu method is a little more forgiving – if you mess up one infusion, you can always adjust the next. I find timers distracting and more or less a waste of time in this sort of setting. You only need to know if the last cup was infused too long or too short, and adjust accordingly. Differences of one or two seconds on the timer isn’t going to change much of anything, because there are so many other things that can change as well – the speed you pour, the temperature of your teaware, how long you waited between infusions, etc, that will affect the outcome. I’ve even seen people claiming they need highly precise timers down to the hundredths of a second; that’s just being silly. Timers only get to be useful for tea brewing if you’re measuring something over 30 seconds. Splitting hair won’t help you make better tea.

More than just the immediate question of infusing tea though, tea drinking itself takes time, especially when done gongfu style. The time it takes to drink tea in a session is probably at a minimum 30 minutes. You need time to boil the water, and then drink a good 4-5 infusions; that’s half an hour right there, and that’s if you’re fast and are totally focused on the tea drinking itself. If you want to be doing something else while drinking tea, it can go on forever. When you have a cup of coffee, there’s a natural halflife of how long it can last – if you wait too long, it gets cold, and unless you dunk ice in it, the quality of the brew is gone. So you pretty much are limited by that amount of time, dependent on room temperature and such things. With gongfu style tea brewing and a ready supply of hot water, you can literally go on forever if you’re willing to drink tea flavoured water.

That explains why it’s so hard to find places that provide space for tea brewing in gongfu style. During the tea renaissance in Taiwan in the 70s and 80s there were a lot of these chayiguan, “tea art houses”, but the vast majority of them have died and very few survive with serious tea still being their main focus. In Hong Kong it never became a thing, because a customer will easily sit there for a few hours while paying only one price; here that price needs to be very high or you can’t cover rent. China, funny enough, is the only place that has a bunch of chayiguan, but most of them serve very mediocre teas at an unreasonable price. At the end of the day, none are very good options, and that’s all because tea takes time, easily a lot of it. In that amount of time you can sell a lot more cups of coffee.

I think this is probably why a lot of us, even in Asia, end up drinking at home, often alone. Some would have regular gatherings of friends who share the interest and drink together, at which point time passes pretty quickly as you go from tea to tea and chat about it in the meantime. Otherwise, committing to a couple hours of tea drinking together is not too easy to coordinate. Shops where you can hang out and meet others naturally are rarer still, and require a patient owner who is willing to put up with customers who lull around and not buying much and who can still pay the rent (while often doing the brewing themselves). It’s a difficult environment to survive in. If you have a local shop like that which also doesn’t gouge you for the privilege, cherish it.

While it probably isn’t too likely, here’s hoping that more interesting tea places open, or stay open, during 2015, and that all of you will have new and meaningful experiences with tea in this new year.

Tea Feature - Lapsang Souchong

The Tea Horse Road - Fri, 01/02/2015 - 08:00
Grown in the WuYi mountains of China.This is a wild crafted tea from tea trees that from in a semi wild environment growing in altitudes more than 1000 meters.Teas are dried over local pine that naturally imbue the pine scent and aroma into the tea leaves.Has a distinctive smoky flavor and is the world's first black tea.The liquor is bright and reddish, with reddish brown leaves.Has a sweet, smoky and rich flavor.

Tea in the desert

Gongfu Girl - Fri, 01/02/2015 - 00:18

After encountering an article on the band Tinariwen, I went searching for some additional information on them. Their music is a distinctive blend of multiple traditions, including those of the members’ own Tuareg culture from Mali.

As I browsed the names of the songs for which there were videos, one title caught my eye: “Iswegh Attay,” which I suspected meant something to do with “tea” since I knew that the Moroccan Arabic word for tea is “Atay” (اتاي).  As I began to watch, I was pleased to discover a beautiful film of a man brewing and serving tea in the traditional manner of the Tuareg nomads. This way of tea is similar among many of the desert cultures of Western and Northern Africa. It differs from the Moroccan tradition in its absence of fresh mint and use of much plainer, rustic tea wares.

From the band’s website:


One translated line of the song: “I drank a glass of tea that scorched my heart.

Read more about the method of brewing and serving tea shown in the video on the Cultural Website of the Sahara. The photo of the Tuareg man pouring tea accompanying this article is used under Creative Commons license, and was taken by Garrondo.

Possibly Related Posts:

Golden Monkey Superfine Grade – 2014 Harvest from Capital Tea Limited

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 01/01/2015 - 23:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Capital Tea Limited

Tea Description:

Young, fine and tender prominently golden tea leaves with an intensely forward aroma. These leaves produce a rich, medium bodied tea liquor with a very smooth and sweet flavour that is full of finesse. This tea has a wonderful depth of flavour and is highly recommended.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Really nice!  This Golden Monkey has a rich, full-flavor that I want in my first cup of the day, the kind of tea that will help you get a move on!

I received a sampling of this tea from a friendly sipper on Steepster, which is an excellent community of tea drinkers.  I like to call Steepster “Facebook for tea drinkers.”  Anyway, I’m so grateful to the community because it allows me the opportunity to try some teas that maybe I wouldn’t have been able to try otherwise.

Like this Golden Monkey, for example!  To brew this tea, I poured the sampling I received in the basket of my Kati Tumbler and heated 12 ounces of tea to boiling and let the tea steep for 3 minutes.

The aroma is sweet and chocolaty with notes of smoke, earth and leather.  These notes translate to the flavor as well, because that’s exactly what I’m tasting!  Notes of earth and leather, with background notes of smoke.  There is an overtone of chocolate with a sweet undertone of caramel.  Luscious!

It’s a remarkably smooth tea – I’m getting virtually no astringency.  In the aftertaste, I experience a very slight dryness, but it is so slight that if I wasn’t focusing on it, I don’t know that I would have noticed it.  It’s not bitter.  It’s just pleasant deliciousness from start to finish.

Another great tea from this company!

A Year In Tea: 2014

Tea For Me Please - Thu, 01/01/2015 - 17:00
What a year it has been! 2014 was filled with lots of ups and downs. I finally made the jump to doing what I love, working with tea. My first attempt didn't end well but I met some great people and learned a lot. Afterwards, I took a position as Assistant Manager at David's Tea. It wasn't necessarily the best move for me but bills needed to be paid. Just when I thought that I had things figuredNicole Martinhttps://plus.google.com/103097147251455801975noreply@blogger.com0

Happy New Year!

T Ching - Thu, 01/01/2015 - 13:01

I am reminded of New Years’ 2013: I had resolved to lose fifteen pounds (just 18 to go)!  And, I made a list of foods I would give up to achieve that goal: haggis, kimchi, and tripe topped my list.

Then my husband came by, looked at the list and declared, “But you HATE haggis, kimchee, and tripe!”

“PRECISELY!  Then it won’t be too difficult, right?  Not like I’m giving up chocolate, cheesecake, or cheese, right?”

Here we are, New Years’ Eve of 2014, and as mentioned above, there are still 50 lbs too many of me and I still despise haggis (that revolting image just above and to the right of this sentence), kimchee, and tripe, pictured respectively, below.


Perhaps kimchi has the best chance of making it into the 2015 lineup of foods I will attempt to like.  Although, given that extra 50, perhaps I shouldn’t eat anything.

What I WILL do in 2015 – and I hope you do, too – is try new teas!  I have demonstrated great versatility in black teas, enjoying those from mellow to brisk, from India to China to Ceylon and Kenya.  My green tea habit is static at jasmine pearls and matcha.  I need to branch out, into the toasty oolongs and the high mountain oolongs.  Please give me your recommendations and I will try them!  Now that my little town has a tea lounge with some 150 different teas and state-of-the-art brewing equipment, it will be easy!

To you and yours: let us hope that 2015 brings peace to our troubled world, that conflicts are discussed and resolved over cups of tea, and much, much laughter.


IMAGE 1:         IMAGE 2:           IMAGE 3:

Loading image courtesy of the contributor.

The post Happy New Year! appeared first on T Ching.

Vibrant Morning Green Tea Blend from Because UR Priceless

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 01/01/2015 - 11:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Because UR Priceless on Etsy

Tea Description:

Are you having one of those days where you just want to snuggle under the covers and go back to sleep…but you can’t? Are you in the middle of one of those afternoon lulls when you just want to rest your eyes for a wee little bit?

GOOD NEWS! Let the naturally caffeinated green tea found in Vibrant Morning Herbal Tea help put a little pep into your step! You don’t like green tea, you say? Well, to be honest, I’m not a fan of its rather sharp taste either. However, Vibrant Morning’s added combination of lemon verbena, spearmint, lemongrass, and lemon peel will whisk that astringency right away. Whew! Green tea for all!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Yes, I’ll get into my review of this Vibrant Morning Green Tea blend from Because UR Priceless in just a moment.  But first, a rant:

I find myself in disagreement with the above description – I am a fan of green tea.  I LOVE green tea!  I don’t find the flavor of it to be sharp at all.  In fact, when brewed properly, green tea is buttery, soft, and silky.  Vegetal, yes.  Most green teas are.  But they’re also beautifully sweet, smooth and complex.

Some green teas are astringent, but I find green teas to be on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to astringency. Sharp or bitter?  No, not if you use a good quality product and brew it properly.

I think that the reason so many people dislike green teas is because either:  a)  they’re brewing a sub-par product, and/or b) they’re steeping the tea incorrectly.

To address matter a):  as with just about anything, you get what you pay for.  If you’re going to the grocery store and buying the cheapest green tea off the shelf, green tea dust and fannings that have been stuffed into teabags and then packaged in boxes that have probably been sitting on that aforementioned grocery store shelf for the last year (or longer!), you know what?  I wouldn’t want to drink that stuff either.  I’m not a fan of that stuff.  Do yourself a favor and find a reputable purveyor of loose leaf green teas.

Which leads me to matter b):  Learn how to brew those loose leaf teas!  Because green tea leaves have not endured an oxidation process the way black tea leaves have, they are more delicate.  They can’t withstand boiling water temperatures because boiling water can and most likely will scorch the leaves.  They don’t need to be steeped as long as black tea either – usually 1 – 2 minutes will do.  Some green teas should only be steeped for 30 seconds!  A purveyor that knows their stuff will be able to tell you the best way to brew the tea to get the most out of it.

Now … on to the review!

What a lovely green tea blend!  I love the combination of spearmint and bright, lemony notes!  The green tea offers a soft, sweet background note.

The lemon-y notes are prominent and when I sip this, I find myself thinking:  vibrant.  Sunny.  So … yeah, the name of this tea works.  The burst of lemony flavor is very Vibrant and makes me think of the sunshine in the morning.  I like that the lemon notes are tangy and tart, but not so tart that I’m puckering.  The presence of the crisp spearmint and the smooth green tea help to soften the tartier notes of the lemon.

The spearmint adds a fresh taste to the cup.  I like the choice of the spearmint here, which I find to be a little less aggressive than peppermint.  The spearmint doesn’t overwhelm the flavors.  Rather, it complements the juicy flavor of the lemon.

And the green tea isn’t lost in this blend (and I admit that I was a wee bit concerned that it might be after reading the above description).  I taste the light vegetal notes.  It has a light buttery taste and a silky texture.  And this blend of spearmint and lemon-y herbals would not have the same flavor or mouthfeel without the presence of the green tea.

A very enjoyable, satisfying blend that’s delicious served hot or iced!

Happy New Year 2015

The Tea Horse Road - Thu, 01/01/2015 - 08:00
A very Happy, Prosperous and Healthy New Year.
Retrieved from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/suzee_que/3736303473/

Celebration Medley Rooibos Blend from Sloane Tea Company

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 12/31/2014 - 23:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Rooibos

Tea Information:

Sweet spice and delightful seasonal aromas! Meet the perfect tea to get you through the cold months. Warm baking spices of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg blend seamlessly with citrus and the natural sweetness of apple and rose petals. This is a unique blend destined to become one of your favourites.

This tea is available from Amoda Tea.

Learn more about subscribing to Amoda Tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I loved how apple-y this smelled when I opened the pouch.  And as it steeped, I was treated to more apple notes – it smelled a bit like apple cider!  YUM!

The apple notes are well-defined as are the spices.  The cinnamon and clove add warmth and I’m getting a hint of “spicy-hot” cinnamon, like someone added a red-hot candy or two to my cup and let it dissolve.  It’s not overly ‘hot’ but there’s just a hint of that candy-like cinnamon-clove-y hot-sweet flavor.

The nutmeg adds earthy and nutty flavors that meld nicely with the rooibos.  The orange is more of a background note, but it adds a tangy, bright taste that is rather pleasant.  The orange note also plays with the red-hot flavor of the cinnamon and clove.

I don’t taste a strong rose note, but every once in a while I get this lovely floral note.  It seems to weave its way in and out, not always making itself obvious or apparent, but this blend wouldn’t be the same without that gentle whisper of rose.

To steep, I used my Kati Tumbler and added 1 1/2 bamboo scoops of tisane to the basket and 12 ounces of water heated to 195°F.  I steeped it for 10 minutes.

I enjoyed this and would be happy to drink it again!  It’s a little spicy-hot, it’s sweet, it’s fruity, and it’s got enough going on with it to keep the palate interested.  It’s a fun and tasty blend!

It’s a Mugs Game

The Devotea - Wed, 12/31/2014 - 21:30
New Year’s Day is a time for reflection, and as I am writing this on just that day, I’ll reflect. 2014 was the best of times and the worst of times, to paraphrase Dickens, and over that year I blogged a little less due to being extremely busy, living in several different locations across the […]

Tea Blog Maintenance: Fixed 57 Broken Links

Alex Zorach's Tea Blog - Wed, 12/31/2014 - 18:57
This blog is pretty inactive; nowadays I put most of my energies into RateTea, while also publishing on my newer blogs Teacology and SpontaneiTea. I also run the RateTea Tumblr, which I highly recommend checking out, especially if you're on Tumblr, but even if you're not.

But this blog still gets a lot of traffic and visibility. Many of the posts receive a lot of Google search traffic.

Today I ran an automated check to scan for broken links, and I turned up 57 broken links! It took considerable effort to fix these, but I've fixed all of them, because I realize that many people use this blog as a reference, and I want to keep it as up-to-date as possible.

Why did links break, and what can businesses and webmasters learn from this?

The links that broke on my blog broke for a wide variety of reasons. An overwhelming majority of links that broke, however, broke due to changes, sometimes very minor, in the URL scheme of the websites they were hosted on. In one case, the NY Times had changed one link from a .htm suffix to a .html suffix, without a redirect, and this caused my link to break. In another case, a journal had changed the order in which they put the two unique numerical identifiers. In other cases, the page was still up but had been moved to a completely different URL. These moves all caused an unnecessary loss, including a financial one, both for the publishers of these websites, and for my site and its readers. Redirects are so easy to carry out!

I want to draw attention to my old post on link permanence and the importance of keeping the same URL scheme.

Some of the links broke for other reasons. In many cases, tea blogs or businesses, have been closed down, and in a few cases, individual articles or posts were removed without a clear explanation, even though the rest of the site was still up.

When possible, I tried to find the original articles when the site had taken them down. In many cases, this was possible with the help of Archive.org. I also found one article on The Free Library, which can be a good place to look for journal or magazine articles that are no longer available on their original sites.

I hope people can continue to enjoy and use this site as a reference. I'm surprised not only by how many views and visits this blog continues to get, but that I am still getting comments actively as well! Thank you to all the readers of this blog out there, and also thank you to all the companies, bloggers, and webmasters that have kept consistent URL schemes and/or used redirects so as to help save me the work of fixing broken links.

And Happy New Year too, when that comes in just a few hours!

Shan Valley Kokang Green Tea 2014

Tea For Me Please - Wed, 12/31/2014 - 17:00
Country of Origin: Myanmar Leaf Appearance: jade green, lots of buds Ingredients: green tea Steep time: 3 minutes Water Temperature: 185 degrees Preparation Method: Teavana Perfect Steeper Liquor: deep gold +Shanvalley is a family owned business that directly imports tea grown in Myanmar, also known as Burma. I've reviewed several of their teas and found them all very drinkable and economical.Nicole Martinhttps://plus.google.com/103097147251455801975noreply@blogger.com0

Tea in Estonia

T Ching - Wed, 12/31/2014 - 13:01

One thing I’ve learned about love is that it transcends time. When you meet someone that you’ve known from another incarnation, you also know that you loved them then as well. It is obvious to see your love for a friend extending into the future, but what is more amazing is that our love also seems to blanket our past like the snow that came with me to Estonia. I meant that when I try to remember my childhood I do so with a heart that loves Kaiya, and I cannot therefore imagine what it was like before I knew him and we became brothers. Similarly, I can’t remember a time from my past without a deep love for my wife, because that love is present and so is my act of remembering. It’s as if we have always loved one another, long before we met in this life.

As I travel the world, I often have the very distinct feeling that this person is familiar to me, and that we have worked together before. I often know immediately who will play a deeper role in the spread of this tradition, and what that role will entail. It is hard to imagine that as I was starting to teach students in Tai- wan, Steve was on vacation in New York and decided to take a drive out to a small Japanese market to see what they had. On some dusty shelf, he found my book. He says he almost put it back, as he had collected so many unread or half-read tea books. Something inside told him this one was different, though. When he read it, the words resonated with him, because they were an expression of the same tea spirit he had often felt in his own sessions. From a dusty book, almost forgotten, Steve walked into our center around a year later.

I’m not sure I had ever even heard of Estonia before Steve’s visit, but the moment he arrived I knew he was familiarly important—the way so many have been—and that we had worked together before and would do so again in this life. I knew I would eventually go to Estonia, and told him so. I think he was a bit shocked to hear that, having just arrived in Taiwan and only just met me (at least this time!). Well, it’s always present and time flows by in torrents. In another Now, I was on a plane bound for Estonia with a full schedule of tea workshops and tastings.

Being an unconscious shaman, I brought a huge snowstorm with me and the mild weather of the past two weeks before I arrived was blown away by what Estonian meteorologists were calling, be loosely translated, “the WuDödiludö Storm.” Snow is fun when you haven’t seen it in a long time, but the cold isn’t. Still, Estonia is a beautiful country and Tallinn an amazing city. There is an old town built in the medieval times, with cobble-stone streets and charming little shops, turrets and walls and excellent views from the higher parts. It was amazing to walk down such ancient and haunted streets.

I had been warned that Estonians were cold, but I found them to be a lot like Japanese and/or Chinese in that they just don’t show emotions so easily and are concerned with ‘face’—what others are thinking. In that way, I was already prepared and though I had some trouble reading them sometimes, I found them anything but cold.

It was so great to finally be able to situate my dear old friend Steve in his home and work, as we often think about him here at the center. Now it is so easy to imagine him at his desk, talking to Triin or driving and admiring the bleakness of a winter afternoon. He is also surrounded by some of the most beautiful people I have ever met, his two assistants Triin and Siim. Triin is a gorgeous woman who loves tea and has helped Steve since he opened his shop. Siim is a young man with a passion for life and tea, and who was eager to learn and grow. Needless to say, I fell in love with both of them before my trip was finished.

Steve had told me all about his tiny little shop in the old town and I had the impression that it was going to be the kind of kitsch tea shop you find in some places in the West and that I would have to be polite and not talk too much about what I thought. Fortunately, this was another of my life’s many blunders. Chado is a gorgeous little shop: quaint, with good warm energy and a very surprising collection of fine teas and chocolate. (It didn’t hurt that the stunning shopkeeper Maria was behind the counter when I arrived, either.) It felt great to hug Steve and tell him I love his shop, would frequent it if I lived nearby and that I was so proud of what he has created. If you are in Estonia, be sure to drop in (especially if Maria is working!). It is small, but the old town is so atmospheric, lending its charm to the shop as well. And I think a teahouse of some kind will follow soon enough.

We did two one-day workshops the first weekend and a two-day workshop the second weekend, with three of the biggest public tastings I have ever done during the week—the last of which had thirty people! The first Saturday workshop started our work out gently, as it was small and intimate. I met some great tea lovers, like the unforgettable Edgar who is the tea expert at a small tea shop and Chinese restaurant in Tallinn. He was full of tea spirit, and asked nice questions. It was amazing to see him open up after each bowl as the day wore on. The second one-day work- shop, on Sunday, was incredible—maybe my favorite of the trip. I met a beautiful Chinese woman named Rui Rong who hardly spoke any English, yet was in- tent on coming and sharing tea with us. I translated some for her, but she said she was very contented to sit in quiet. Later, she hugged me with moistened eyes and said the day was pivotal for her life. She owns a Chinese restaurant in Tallinn and possibly faces a lot of stress. Everyone in that workshop was amazing: and Triin, Siim and Steve did a great job with the water for tea and food for lunch. Some of you who have attended such workshops know that they often seem timeless, as if we have been in that room sharing tea for eons. I also won’t soon forget the bright smile of Jaanus, another whom I immediately felt familiar with. Many of our new Estonian friends are, in fact, sitting with us in the hut sharing this month’s tea!

The tastings were at a trippy-hippie yoga studio in the old town. I have never served tea to such large groups at once. We boiled up some Five Element tea and sent them all to the moon! We sat in silence for around forty-five minutes and then I asked them if they had any questions. I think Estonians are shy about asking things in public. Fortunately, I had some Russian friends who came mid-week so there was some discussion. Then we watched the Global Tea Hut video and chatted for a while. The tastings were a bit shocking for a lot of the people, I felt. They had maybe come think- ing to have some tea and ask about its flavors and origins and were instead cast into a dark and psychedelic yoga studio with Sixties décor and lifted out of them- selves via Five Element tea. In all three tastings there was a different group of old ladies in the back right corner who—all three tastings—looked like they were freaking out a bit. Many people were touched, though, and I even saw some moistened eyes.

Speaking of Russians: one of the greatest joys of the trip was reuniting with Dennis who you remember from my trip to Siberia. He flew over to Estonia from Moscow to join the two-day workshop and help out with the tastings. It was wonderful to see him again and meet his friend Nikita, a bright tea lover with a real palate and a great soul.

We did have a three-day break in our schedule. We headed down to the small town of Viljandi where Steve has a small country home with a ghost in it. It was nice to see some of the Estonian countryside, forests and so-called “bogs”, as well as to rest in preparation for the work we did later in the week.

The last workshop was one of the most intense Five Element workshops I have ever given. Dennis said that the one in Russia was so loving, whereas this one was so deep and intense, “but both good!” He exclaimed in a thick accent. There were many beautifully sincere questions, notes and a deeper exploration of the elements of tea alchemy than is usually possible with beginners. They often asked such insightful questions that we were covering things way beyond an introductory course and doing some interesting experiments as well: tasting waters, differences in heat sources, teaware, etc. I think everyone was touched.

As usual, I gave all those who attended the workshops a bowl and some tea and told them their homework was to drink at least three bowls every day first thing in the morning (yes, it was Sun Moon Lake Red Tea). So far, we have found that most all of them have done so faithfully, and some have even continued weeks later. I hope that the love for tea we kindled in Estonia is fanned and fuel is added so that it burns brightly til next time. To that end, I asked Steve and Timo to host some weekly tastings in Tallin. Timo is another Estonian who has made his way to the center. He now hosts small gatherings in his hometown of Tartu. The three of us had a great time eating, laughing, drinking tea and goofing around at night after the workshops and tasting—brothers, indeed!

If you had asked me a few years ago if I would ever be going to Estonia, I may have exclaimed “Where?!” Follow the Cha and the Dao where it leads: through tea make friends, Estonian friends! I couldn’t imagine a life without my new Estonian family, and look forward to all the amazing tea we will share in the future. If any of you out there in the Hut find yourself in Estonia, look up Steve and your other brothers and sisters for some magical, medieval tea!

*This is the part where Kaiya makes air-guitars and I throw up the ol’ Devil’s horns and shout, “Estonia Rocks!” At which point we both start pumping our fists and howling, jumping around like idiots…

This article was written by Wu De and published by Global Tea Hut in November of 2012. Images courtesy of Global Tea Hut.

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