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2017 Tea Festival and Trade Show Schedule

World of Tea - Fri, 10/21/2016 - 18:10

There are a growing number of tea festivals, industry trade shows and conferences around the world. This list is an attempt to capture them all and it will be updated as more dates are released. If I have omitted an event that you are aware of, please reach out to me and I will add it to the list. Which ones are you going to? Be sure to chime in the comments below!

January February March May June July September Not Yet Scheduled

Photo Credit: Terry Madely

Soothing Rose Hibiscus Skin Detox from Yogi Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 10/21/2016 - 17:00

I have been a fan of Yogi teas for quite awhile. I discovered this skin detox tea a few years ago, and I love it so much. It tastes a little sweet, a little floral-y, and very refreshing. The rose seems to balance out the hibiscus, so there is none of the hibiscus tartness. It tastes delicious hot or iced. As far as the benefits to the skin, I really do notice that my skin Read More

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Friday Round Up: October 16th - October 22nd

Tea For Me Please - Fri, 10/21/2016 - 16:56
2017 Tea Festival and Trade Show Schedule
Looking for a fun tea event to attend? +Tony Gebely put together a list of some of the upcoming festivals and trade shows for next year. Those dates will be here before you know it!

Uji Press Tea Tour 2016
+Ricardo Caicedo had what sounds like a once in a lifetime trip to the Uji region of Japan. How lucky is he! I'm definitely living vicariously through this blog post.

Dong Ding Near-Death Experiences
+Geoffrey Norman is one of my favorite tea storytellers (in case you couldn't tell from his many appearances in this round up). This week he wrote about a near-death experience that Shiuwen Tai of +Floating Leaves Tea had on her first visit to Dong Ding.

Jump start your own tea journey with these books on tea
+katherine bellman put together an awesome list of some must check out tea reads. Many of these are permanent residents on my bookshelf but I'm also adding a few to my "to read" pile.

Pacific Northwest Taiwanese Black Tea Comparison
+Charissa Gascho relocated and I've been loving all of the posts focused on the Pacific Northwest. In this post, she compares Ruby 18 offerings from three different vendors.

Favorite Tea Ware - Jeff Cleary of UNYtea Guy

Notes on Tea - Fri, 10/21/2016 - 14:42
As a tea drinker, and I am sure this is true for you, I adore teaware, from the chasen to the yixing teapot. Everyone has their favorites! This series showcases the favorite teaware of folks in the tea blogging community as well as people who enjoy drinking tea. The series kicks off this fall with tea objects from UNYtea Guy blogger, Jeff Cleary. You can also find Jeff's luminous photographs of tea @unyteaguy on Instagram.

One thing that is equally exciting for tea lovers other than tea itself is teaware. There are so many different vessels and tools used to make tea. One person could look at a “gong fu cha” setup and wonder what all the clutter is about, but each piece has a purpose. So, here are my top pieces of teaware.

Totem non-slip tea tray
from Totem Tea

This tray is small and light and has a thin coating that keeps your teaware from slipping and sliding. I love using it with my cupping sets when I’m doing tastings. It also makes a great tiny travel tray.

180ml Duani yixing pot 
from Yunnan Sourcing (no longer available)

I bought this little guy very lightly used from a tea friend. A few factors make this a favorite. The unique lid and its simple, smooth design is what originally peaked my interest. The pot functions very well, it pours well and holds heat for an appropriate amount of time. 180ml is a little on the big side, but nobody says you have to fill it all the way!

Mixing cup

I bought this at a local market soon after receiving my Duani pot because I needed to find a cup that came close to matching my pot. After not being able to find anything that matched the way I wanted it, I “settled” with this cup for $3 at a local lounge. This cup is a perfect example that great teaware doesn’t need to be expensive or flashy. Everything about this cup works for me; its nice and smooth and feels nice against my lips, it stays warm but doesn’t get to hot to hold, and it holds the perfect amount of liquid (50-60ml). If you like oolongs or puerh tea and you're into that whole seasoning thing, get a simple yixing cup, you’ll thank me later.

Hu Cheng (pot stand/support)
from Bitterleaf Teas

Every now and then we all need a little support, even your teapot. This is more than decoration because it is made of clay and holds heat just like a clay pot or gaiwan. As your tea session goes you just pour a little water on your pot to keep it warm and cozy. Any excess water will drain into your tea tray helping maintain a clean, orderly setup.

I've long admired Jeff's Duani yixing teapot so am glad it's one his favorite tea objects. A non-slip tray seems almost essential when you are styling your teas and wares for photo shoots. Although these pieces were purchased from different vendors, they make a lovely set. A big thanks to Jeff for giving us a peek into his teaware collection!

P.S. Catch up on all the posts in the Favorite Tea Ware series.

Tea Basics: 6 Golden Rules for Making Perfect Tea

T Ching - Fri, 10/21/2016 - 12:02

The sweet aroma of warm tea has the power to wake up all the senses. Tea lovers always aspire to make a perfect cup of this drink, which is both healthy and soothing. You don’t need to be the master of Chinese or Japanese tea ceremony in order to make yourself the best cup of this liquid delight. Keep on reading and you’ll find some useful tips that will change the way you prepare and consume your tea forever.

1. Tea Leaves Instead of Tea Bags

Using a tea bag might seem practical, but with so many interesting tea leaves infusers available on the market today, you too can experience the completely new and unique taste of using tea leaves in your beverage. Once you try this for the first time, you’ll see for yourself that tea can be as rich and pleasantly scented as a cup of coffee for example.

2. Brew More than Once

Old tea drinking cultures believe that the tea gets better the more it gets brewed. For example, Chinese claim that tea leaves provide the best possible taste and aroma after the second or third brew. Still, for this technique to work, it’s essential to remove the leaves once the tea is brewed so that they don’t get further stewed in the pot.

3. Water Temperature

People nowadays often make the mistake of waiting for the water to boil and then pouring it over the tea. Such high water temperature can actually kill the flavor as well as health properties of specific tea leaves. Therefore, the next time you decide to make some tea, make sure to remove the kettle just before the water starts to boil. Little bubbles on the side of the kettle can signify the moment when it’s time to remove it.

4. The Amount of Water

The taste of tea can also be lost when tea leaves are poured over with the excessive amount of water. In that respect, you can use the appropriate measure of loose tea for a cup size and calculate the amount of water you’ll need by pouring the water into the cups first (before adding tea of course) and then pouring the water into the kettle from the cups. Of course, always use fresh water for brewing the tea because stale water can change the tea’s taste and aroma.

5. Appropriate Teaware

Like there is a perfect type of glass or cup for every drink, there are some suggestions for the perfect kind of teaware when trying to experience that perfect sip of tea. It’s believed that the most gratifying and tasty tea comes from porcelain cups. Nowadays, porcelain cups are easy to find and one can get them in various creative designs thanks to unique stores such as Peter’s of Kensington that pay attention to customer’s demands and personality.

6. Storage Tips

When you store your loose tea, make sure that it’s away from any other foods and spices that might change the tea’s scent. It’s also important to keep it away from the ground and walls, in an airtight container so that there’s no possibility of moisture damaging the tea’s quality. When it comes to said quality, definitely opt for top quality tea when purchasing some. You might think it’s too extravagant, but if you want to make that perfect cup and get all the benefits from it, you’ll find it well worth it.

Once you know these tips and tricks, you can enjoy your tea in a way that you’ve always wanted. Make sure to try different teas and even combine them with milk, so that you can get to know all the different tastes and aromas that this warm beverage has to offer.

The post Tea Basics: 6 Golden Rules for Making Perfect Tea appeared first on T Ching.

Rose Chai from Tea Dude

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 10/21/2016 - 11:00

I’ve had Rose Chai before from a few different companies. Some have been extremely floral because of the rose and others being extremely chai because of the spices. Rose Chai from Tea Dude went about this offering in a different way Tea Dude’s Rose Chai has – what I would consider – mellower spicy chai flavors and more delicate rose flavors, too! Both the chai and the rose are a bit more muted than other Read More

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Enchanted Narnia from Bluebird Tea Co.

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 10/20/2016 - 23:00

I love the inspiration for this tea and the references to Narnia and Turkish Delight. While the ingredients are rather simple: rosebuds, cocoa shells, rose petals, lemongrass and raspberry leaves, the combination seems a little odd. I personally wouldn’t think that lemongrass would work with roses and cocoa shells, but since I enjoy these ingredients on their own and in other teas, I think they just might work in this blend! The main flavor that Read More

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Mandarin Masala Chai (powder) from Blue Lotus

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 10/20/2016 - 17:00

Fall is time for Chai. Fall and winter is when I want to start my day with the warm spiciness of a good cup of Chai. While everyone else is craving all things pumpkin, I’ll be over here drinking Chai. I always use Chai teabags, but over the years I have seen powder Chai mixes pop up, I think even Trader Joe’s has one, but they all have milk in them, and so as a Read More

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Blast from the Past: Defining Quality in Tea

T Ching - Thu, 10/20/2016 - 12:31

The uninitiated might expect the definition to be something as simple as: “A quality tea is one that represents the ideals of its varietal and production style and offers superior taste and aroma.”  But you’d be wrong…that definition no longer applies to a large percentage of tea drinkers.

Today it seems as though “quality” has become all tied up in grey areas of emotion and perception.  For many tea drinkers, the mental experience trumps the taste of the tea.  I’ll give you three examples:

1.    Visit any high-end grocer and a lot of tea shops and you’ll see teas packaged in elaborate containers that often cost nearly as much as the tea inside.  Apparently, many tea drinkers have yet to truly appreciate the differences in taste and are still making their buying decisions based on packaging.

2.    The incredible explosion of tea options in the U.S. over the past few years has created a group of tea drinkers that are on pilgrimages of discovery, savoring teas for their unique characteristics and nuances rather than their taste.  A rare pu-erh, for example, may lose just about every blind taste test among the larger population of tea drinkers, but is prized because it is rare and its flavor profile is so unique.

3.    For reasons of world-view and self-image, many contentious tea drinkers are only able to truly enjoy an organic, fair trade tea purchased from a local, independent retailer.

Aside from those retailers that put a $1 worth of tea in a $2 package, I don’t really take issue with any of these.  I do worry, however, that the power of marketing may be slowing the spread of tea that actually tastes good.  I worry that someone new to tea will be sucked in by packaging, story, or certifications and buy a tea that they don’t really enjoy.

I had the privilege recently of talking at length with the buyer for one of the most respected premium tea companies.  He made a statement that shocked me and really gave me a different perspective.  He said that this is the first year that he has consistently seen organic green teas that approached the quality (taste) of conventionally grown teas.  Now, I was well aware that organic teas cost a lot more (the tea he was showing me retails for more than $25 per ounce).  I had not, however, realized that it was nearly impossible to grow top-quality teas in any meaningful volume using organic production techniques.

So it’s good news that organic production techniques have improved to the point that the taste differences are difficult for even an expert to discern.  But it’s concerning that all this time people have been paying a significant premium for a tea that just doesn’t taste as good.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m not out to destroy the environment for the sake of a rapidly growing industry – but it’s also possible to focus so much on secondary definitions of quality (such as packaging, marketing, and certifications) that the experience of actually drinking the tea disappoints and deters future purchases.

So what does quality mean to you?  Are you willing to sacrifice quality for ideals like sustainability?  And how much extra are you willing to pay?  There’s really no right answer, but it’s been interesting to watch the debate unfold.

This article was originally posted to TChing in October of 2009.


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Firebird Chai from Wendigo Tea Co

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 10/20/2016 - 11:00

I regret to inform you, darling Tea-ple, that there is nothing I could possibly say about this tea that has not been said better on the tea’s own description. Said information implores you to “brace yourself” for “an imposing beast” that “leaves scorched remnants of other Chai teas far below ferocious wings.” Have I just been schooled? Does Wendigo keep its own Starling! on staff? An even more super Super Starling! ? The tea’s description Read More

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Masala Chai from Hope and Glory

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 10/19/2016 - 23:00

I love that chai is the mingling of the world’s tastes. It’s the tea culture from China; the spice from India; and the English’s ability to spread and co-mingle the two. It’s impossible to untangle chai from its history. Britain colonized India around the time America escaped it. It was called “the jewel in the British crown” because it was so profitable. The English used their property in India and Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) to Read More

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Muse from Tay Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 10/19/2016 - 17:00

Muse. Say it with me…Mew-zzz! Muse from Tay Tea is an herbal tisane that I am rather smitten by. Muse from Tay Tea is blended with 100% organic botanicals: lemon verbena, peppermint, spearmint, lemongrass, lavender, rose petals and lemon balm Upon opening the sample bag and again while infusing my surroundings were pepped up by the wonderful peppermint and spearmint that filled the air! Mint is one of my FAVORITE aromas! The more intense the Read More

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Mandala Tea Temple Stairs 2014 Ripe Pu'er

Tea For Me Please - Wed, 10/19/2016 - 16:00
Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: dark brown with visible golden tips
Ingredients: puerh tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: dark reddish brown

There's a chill in the air and I find that my tastes are changing with the shift in seasons. Cravings for roasted oolongs and dark, inky shou puerh has been dominating my tea drinking. There's just something comforting about these darker teas. This tea immediately came to mind on a particularly nippy fall evening.

This 100g cake from +Mandala Tea was beautiful to look at. I almost didn't want to break into it. The leaves were a million shades of brown and gold, especially when I put it inside of my light tent to pictures. They weren't super tightly compressed so I was able to easily break off a portion with just a small needle.

After a quick initial rinse, this tea brewed up an inky dark color. The taste was earthy and sweet with woody notes and hints of vanilla. This is a great introductory tea for those that are new to cooked puerh. It wasn't overly earthy and there was absolutely no fishiness. I did at least five consecutive infusions and then continued to brew a bit the next morning. Later infusions brought out cacao and brown sugar.

Since this shou is on the milder side I definitely recommend being a bit heavier handed with leaf volume. I wound up using about 8g in a 150ml gaiwan. Increasing your steeping times as you go will help to maintain strength as well. Mandala Tea's website is down at the moment but once it's back up you should definitely check out what they have to offer. Their customer pressed teas, like this one, are among some of my favorites.

Temple Stairs 2014 sample provided by Mandala Tea.

Can You Still Drink Bagged Tea?

T Ching - Wed, 10/19/2016 - 12:30

As we become accustomed to higher-quality teas, we naturally tend to set the bar higher. The same can be said for coffee, wine, beer, and just about anything else. After having spent so much time trying things like Chemex-brewed coffee and smoked beers, I can’t go back to more mass-produced versions. If you’ve been drinking high-quality loose tea for a while now (and I assume you have), can you drink bagged tea anymore?

I find that bagged tea is one of the things I am still able to drink. It’s not exactly good, mind you, but whereas I can’t choke down “break room” coffee or most light beers, I can still drink (and sometimes enjoy) lower-quality teas. This is I think due to the fact that most conventionally-marketed tea in the West is very mild in flavor in comparison to things like coffee and beer, and in this case, it’s to its benefit.

If my previous ruminations on things like Dunkin’ Donuts’ experiment with loose tea are any indication, I don’t hold high opinions on a lot of teas sold in places like DD or McDonalds. But I can force myself to drink subpar tea because it is still preferable to a poorly-made cup of coffee.

Before I got into tea, I couldn’t bear to have to drink a cup of bagged Lipton. But now, and God knows why, I can drink it just fine.

But is this just me? Are you able to drink bad coffee just because you’re used to it? Is bad tea just “hot leaf juice” as my father likes to put it? I’m curious to see what everyone else thinks.


The post Can You Still Drink Bagged Tea? appeared first on T Ching.

Caramel Walnut Shortbread from Simpson and Vail

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 10/19/2016 - 11:00

The first thing i noticed about this green Rooibos blend is that it smelled rich and coffee like. In fact, it reminded me of a flavored coffee I used to buy, maybe caramel or something? I can’t remember because it’s been so long since I’ve bought coffee! But this tea made me want a cup as soon as I smelled it. I would serve this tea to die hard coffee drinkers that can’t imagine why Read More

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Matcha to Go from Aiya

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 10/18/2016 - 23:00

Today I am reviewing Matcha to Go from Aiya!! When I first opened the stick-pack (easy to use, and perfect for while on the go), there was a very earthy scent. There was a scent that I couldn’t quite place, but after a while I realized that the scent reminded me of seaweed. Once I stirred and let the tea cool for just a bit, that allowed the earthy matcha scent to become pleasantly strong. Read More

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Thyme Chai from Balcony Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 10/18/2016 - 17:00

When I first saw this, I thought it had to be a mistake. When I think of traditional chai tea, I think cinnamon and anise and all those sweet, warming spices, and I just can’t imagine thyme lingering in the mix. I love thyme when I’m cooking up some hearty, savory dishes, but in tea? I resisted trying this tea for awhile because well, fear. But finally, I decided to open my mind and give Read More

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When Disease Brings Ease with Herbal Teas: A Wild Leaf Teas Review

T Ching - Tue, 10/18/2016 - 12:43

For those of us who have been hit with a medical crisis, we know how it can truly rock our world. For those lucky enough to get to the other side, we often gain valuable experiences that cause a shift in our lives, long after the illness has passed.  Susan Parnell had her world turned upside down when she was stricken with Lyme Disease. For those who fail to catch it early, it can have devastating long term effects on the body. Susan’s journey through the rigorous assault from Lyme disease treatments was to become introduced to herbal teas. She believes that her healing was positively impacted by medicinal herbs which allowed her to support and strengthen her body.

Susan’s passion led her to create healthy tisanes for a variety of obstacles.  I was delighted to be offered an opportunity to try her brews. As we both hail from New Jersey, that was yet another connection we had, beyond our love of medicinal herbs and tea. I requested her SMART tea and received a few others as well.

I started with the SMART tea of course, as who could pass that one up? Checking out the ingredients, I was surprised to find green tea along with a variety of herbs including ginkgo biloba, gotu kola and a nice offering of tasty herbs such as peppermint, rosehips, blueberry and black currant. As this is touted as a healthy beverage, it is of course organic across the board. I was a bit concerned about the high temperature requirements of herbals and the likely bitterness from the more delicate green tea but with all of those tasty herbals, it wasn’t a problem. I found the drink to be quite delicious and fruity. Having not slept well the night before, I must admit that the drink seemed to provide me with a bit of energy and enough cognitive abilities to write this post.

I found HAPPY tea to be equally enjoyable with wholesome herbal selections of tulsi, lemon myrtle, chamomile, rose petals and stevia to sweeten the deal. Again, this company uses organic teas and herbals exclusively.

The lively containers provoke a smile when ever I reach into the cabinet to grab a canister. I think you’ll be glad you checked out Wild Tea for what ails you.

The post When Disease Brings Ease with Herbal Teas: A Wild Leaf Teas Review appeared first on T Ching.

Inner Fire from Urbal Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 10/18/2016 - 11:00

Sometimes a tea aroma stumps my nose and today that tea is Inner Fire from Urbal Tea. This flavored Oolong/Green Rooibos/Yerba Mate blended base smells like cinnamon apple sauce with a hint of blueberry. The funny thing is I can’t see that it has ANY apple in the blend! Inner Fire from Urbal Tea contains Dandelion leaf, Chickweed, Bilberry, Horsetail, Fennel, Yarrow, Eleuthero, Burdock root, Green Rooibos, Cinnamon, Rhodiola root, Dandelion root, Wuyi Wulong Oolong, Read More

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Sweet Pear from Dave and Solomons Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 10/17/2016 - 23:00

I love the idea of pears in teas more than my experience with them in the past. For some reason, I always detect something artificial and medicinal.. I think it might just be from the pear flavoring, unfortunately. I do well with pear jelly beans and candies, but the pear flavoring in tea bothers me. The scent of this tea is reassuring as it’s a nice balance of sweet pear and a rather woody rooibos. Read More

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