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My birthday is in March and this year it felt like gifts were showered upon me. And I guess a lot of people are picking up on my tea obsession because 90% of those gifts were tea-related, with a fair amount of them being sent or organized by the wonderful CuppaGeek. In fact, the day before my birthday, four tea packages arrived, among them a flat box with a colorful label and my name largely displayed in the center – the March myteabox.ca monthly subcription box had arrived. It was a gift I didn’t even know I wanted but I Read More
I’m TOTALLY LOVING THIS TEA! So much so that I slapped it on one of my personal TOP TEN LISTS even before I gave it a proper review! The tea I’m referring to is Persian Plum Rose Black from Blossom! It smells AMAZING as soon as you open the bag! I ALMOST didn’t want to infuse it – it was THAT amazingly-scented! But I did – and I’m glad I did! It was incredible! Persian Plum Rose Black from Blossom is an exotic black tea blend with sultry notes of plum and rose petals, and a pleasant finish of cardamom Read More
I decided to make this tea into iced tea. The weather is warming up, and I’m dreaming of spring. A nice cold glass of lemon chiffon tea just screams spring to me. This tea has rooibos, honeybush, lemon myrtle, lavender flowers, marigold petals, and lemon and pomegranate flavors. Doesn’t it just sound beautiful? The tea is beautiful, and the smell is amazing. Nice and fruity, you just want to drink it! It’s a beautiful golden color, it kind of reminds me of a marigold to be honest. It has a very sweet and lemony flavor. It’s extremely refreshing. I don’t Read More
Steepster is a website for tea lovers. If you are not on the website and you love tea, I recommend joining immediately because ultimately it is what fueled my love of all things tea and introduced me to the world beyond DAVIDsTEA and Teavana. It is essentially a forum to connect with other tea lovers, write tea reviews, and discuss all things tea. It is through this site that I met wonderful friends, experienced tea swaps, and discovered traveling teaboxes, which is how I came across this tea. For those who don’t know what a traveling teabox is, it is Read More
The Chinese have many words for people who, like myself, have Chinese ancestry but are not from China. They range from the common and innocuous hua ren 华人 or “culture person”, to my personal favorite, the colorful 混血儿 hun xue er meaning “mixed blood son”. Somewhere in between is a fascinating epithet hua qiao 华侨 or “culture bridge”. I like this word, not so much to identify myself with as a Chinese-American person, but as a way to describe a powerful and emergent role that tea culture is playing around the world.
As China comes into its own as a player on the global stage, mutual goodwill and understanding are absolutely essential to harmonious coexistence. The spread of Chinese tea culture means an increase in the number of people who are familiar with and appreciate an aspect of Chinese culture. This goes a long way towards humanizing a people who have historically been thought of as “inscrutable” by those around them. Meanwhile, when a Chinese person encounters a “foreigner” (that’s what non-Chinese are called, even when you’re not in China) who knows how to pour tea, they are generally thrilled, if somewhat baffled. Participating in someone else’s culture is the best way to relate to them – speaking their language, eating their local food, drinking their local beverages. Not everyone is down to learn Mandarin or eat chicken feet, but the simple act of sharing tea with a Chinese person tells them that you think that their culture is valid and worthwhile, and that, far from being an uncultured barbarian, you are capable of enjoying refined and subtle things. In an age of epidemic xenophobia, tea is a powerful medicine.
This effect is of course not just limited to Chinese and non-Chinese. The practice of gong fu cha and enjoyment of Chinese tea is worldwide and growing, but still obscure enough to form an instant bond between people who have it as a mutual interest. Not only does it provide a point of connection and discussion, but the very act of appreciating tea involves drinking it with people, providing an opportunity to share time, conversation, and to show off one’s tea and teaware collection to someone who can appreciate it. The power of sharing tea to form a bond, even beyond language and social barriers, cannot be underestimated – it’s like sharing a drink, having a picnic, and doing something really nerdy like having a Pokemon duel, all at once. And it works just as well even if one serves tea to someone who is completely uninitiated. I first experienced the power of tea while living in Japan more than a decade ago, when my housemate was hosting a couch surfer, an American surfer-type dude. He was passing through the kitchen as I was getting my tea set out to serve myself tea. I offered him some and he declined almost automatically as he looked through the cupboards. Upon turning around, he saw my Yixing clay tea set and immediately said “Oh! Well I’ll have THAT kind of tea”. He had never seen anything like it and we sat and drank tea for nearly 3 hours. When we were done I thanked him for having tea with me and reached out to shake his hand. He took my hand with both of his and looked me square in the eyes and said – this is a direct quote – “No man, thank you, it was like a gift”. To sit down and take the time to prepare tea for someone, to serve it to them, is so much more like giving a gift than just handing someone a can or a bottle, especially if you are giving them a totally new experience.
At the end of the day, the tea itself is just a catalyst – something to do, something to share, something to drink, something to talk about, more often than not for hours on end. It’s what happens during those hours, between those sips of tea, that really creates the bond. It’s so rare in the modern world to sit down face to face with someone and just have a conversation – without watching anything, without getting intoxicated, without staring at a phone. When we share tea we build a bridge, spanning culture, class, gender, race, and religion, and we find that what we have in common with each other is greater than our differences.
Spring is just around the corner. At least in my neck of the woods it is. It seems like everybody is tired of lugging around the winter coats and heavy sweaters and are ready for the change of seasons. Even I’m ready to open up some windows and let the fresh air in. With the coming of the seasons, also comes (for some of us) a change in our tea drinking habits. I’ve noticed that I’ve been craving more bright spring like teas with a floral touch lately. So the other day I prepped up my kettle and checked out Read More
Sometimes I’m Lazy. Yes. That is a complete sentence. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have to explain myself on that because I think no matter how driven or inspired anyone can be – anyone can still be lazy every once and a while. Rich Assam Black Tea Signature Collection from Wissotzky Tea has been my lazy tea as of late. I purchased it prior to Christmas while shopping for someone else. It was on sale for $1.99 at a local TJ Maxx. I see on the company website that it sells for $4.99. I feel I got a great Read More
Rose Garden Puerh by ToCha This tea came in a convenient sachet with rich brown leaves and lost of rose petals. I steeped it in a Kamjove pot because I plan to resteep. Why waste good tea? I am careful to watch a new puerh tea because I have seen a few that steep rapidly. This one was good to go in a little over a minute. I had a rose scented puerh once that was so light on the rose I couldn’t tell it was there, except perhaps for a faint sweetness lent by the flower. Not so this one. The rose is Read More
There’s something about a tea being themed to one of your favorite interests, that just makes the whole experience so much more fun. Having spent some time battling my way through the fantasy landscape of the Skyrim video game, I was more than ready to brew up a cup of Daedra tea from Grimoire on Etsy. This herbal tea is bold and bloody. Big chunks of blood orange are paired with dark berry pieces to help sweeten its tart citrus bite. There’s a dose of snappy hibiscus to add its fruity notes and turn the brew a deep, pink magenta. Read More
A short time ago, I received my final K-1 on a business a female partner and I incorporated in 2004. The business plan was tight, the recipes I’d worked on for years were like nothing out there using tea back then..lattes, blended drinks, favorite vendors secured… the whole 9 yards. The company eventually opened a total of three stores under the name The Tea & Coffee Exchange; the concept store in Lake Arrowhead, and two others in Manhattan Beach and Big Bear.
I won’t go into all the details, suffice it to say that it didn’t turn out to be the dream we had on paper that followed for me. It was ten years of pain, emotionally and financially.
With the company recently sold, I can look back and either dwell on the pain, or I can look at all the practical lessons learned about business and life in general and move forward, which is what I chose to do from Day One when things ‘turned’ in the co-ownership relationship, when a third party entered the mix, and I gave up 30% of my 50% co-ownership to prevent prolonged wrangling.
What my husband and I did, my having refused to sign a non-compete, was decide to immediately move on and open another retail business in tea, which kept us ‘in the flow’ and honed our skills in all areas of the tea niche. We also began to think about what we saw as ‘missing’ in the industry, which was a way to brew loose tea quickly but even better than the thousands-year-old method still being used in most tea and coffee stores, hotels and restaurants, and wherever tea is offered, including fast food places like McDonald’s, which are now offering full-fledged specialty beverages due to high demand for this wonderful Camellia Sinensis plant and its many benefits.
During the ensuing years, we saw a number of quick-brew inventions hit the commercial market, but none like what we were working on. We are planning to introduce our commercial one min. by the cup/multi-cup brewer for licensing to an equipment manufacturer or others who see the potential of an industry-disruptive technology which has been thoroughly taste and utility tested. It is difficult to hold back until you are absolutely sure of what you are bringing to market, and not to worry about ‘missing the timing’, but it is also essential to do so. I’m not a patient person by nature and this has been a long journey.
Why am I writing this article? I believe it is cathartic, with the selling of the company bringing an end of some sort to this chapter of my business life. I’m not sure during all those years that people in the industry even knew I was a co-founder or involved in any way because my name was never mentioned when interviews were given to industry trade magazines, that I saw, and I had given up any part in decision-making or managing the business. In fact, I read about things in those publications that I had done, with someone else taking the credit for my hard work.
But the main focus and purpose of this article is to encourage others who have dealt with or are dealing with what seems to be a devastating business/life experience that the best thing to do is ‘keep moving’ if you can, emotionally and physically, stay active in your niche, think positively and proactively and long-term, keep a right attitude, and let hard and painful situations make you better, not bitter!
Check out Diane’s new tea shop, California Tea and Herbal, here.
Fruity meets dessert meets caffeine free. Helloooo! Growing up, my aunt used to make a lemon cake topped with blueberries & homemade whipped cream, so when I saw this tea I HADTOHAVEITRIGHTNOW. I brewed it for 5 minutes in boiled water and waited a few minutes to begin drinking it. I like this tea. Upon first glance, you can see tiny blueberries and cute cornflowers amidst the barky-ness of the rooibos. I was able to taste all three named flavors in addition to the rooibos, although I will say they felt a bit unbalanced. Lemon in general can be such Read More
I’m a fan of Sportland Tea Co. I recently tried their Endurance Blend, which is matcha and citrus and I really loved the flavor, and the way it made me feel, so I was very excited to try the Gingerberry tea. The tea is green in it’s dry form, and then after brewing it becomes reddish from the hibiscus. This blend has matcha, ginger root, Hibiscus, ginseng, lemongrass, lemon balm, cinnamon and orange peel. I usually prefer hibiscus tea iced, and I will definitely be making this over ice next time, but to be honest it’s pretty tasty warm. The Read More
Today is a lazy Sunday. For breakfast I made homemade blueberry muffins and a side of bacon. I always appreciate the combination of salty and sweet. The two flavors are just a match made in heaven. The sweet blueberry muffins and the salty bacon made for a delectable breakfast, that even my guy enjoyed. Thinking about the combo of salty and sweet reminded me that I have a delicious tea just begging for me to try it, PB & J by Tea and Tins! Peanut butter is salty and jelly is sweet, so clearly this is right up my ally! Read More
The birthplace of oolong is the Fujian Province of China. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly when production first began but it is likely to have been after the Ming Dynasty as this area was known for its compressed teas prior to that time. Oolong is the anglicized version of the Chinese Wulong, meaning black dragon. There are many legends about the origin of that name but it seems to mostly be tied to the dark, twisted appearance of the oolongs produced in the Wuyi Mountain area. Tea plants from Fujian were first brought to Taiwan in the early 1800's.
Oolong is one of the largest and most diverse categories of tea. The oxidation levels can range from as low as 8% to as high as 80%. For that reason, it is a tea of many faces. There are a massive number of varieties so a list of all of them could go on forever. For the sake of simplicity, I'm going to list a select few that oolong beginners should definitely check out.
There are also some really tasty oolongs coming from Vietnam, Thailand, and other regions being produced.
Oolong tea uses larger, more mature leaves than those used for white, yellow, or green tea. It's a bit of a misconception that larger leaves are poorer quality and oolong is proof that this isn't always the case. Tender buds just wouldn't be able to survive the rolling process. For this reason, oolongs are harvested a bit later in the year.
After plucking the leaves are withered in the sun to remove excess moisture. This also makes them more malleable. They are then bruised by carefully tossing them on a bamboo or wicker tray. The leaves are then allowed to oxidize, slowly turning from green to red in color. Heat is then applied at the appropriate stage in order to halt oxidation. This is what stops the tea from fully oxidizing into a black tea.
Depending on the type of tea, the leaves may then shaped and/or rolled. Anxi and Taiwanese oolongs usually have a distinctive ball shape while Wuyi and Guangdong oolongs have a long, skinny appearance. The leaves will then be heated, often by charcoal roasting, to remove residual moisture and make them more shelf stable. Some types of oolong also have a roasting step that takes place after processing. This is frequently done by tea merchants rather than the producer themselves.
Due to the wide range of oxidation levels, the taste of oolong can be just as diverse. Lighter oxidized teas will usually have a more grassy quality. Anxi and Taiwanese oolongs are very aromatic and floral but there are lots of nuances within that. Wuyi oolongs are dark and toasty with a strong minerality. Phoenix oolongs mimic everything from fruits to nuts and even specific flower varieties.
How to Brew It
When using a western method, water temperatures are usually around 180 to 212° Fahrenheit. Steep times can vary between 3 and 8 minutes depending on the tea. Oolong can be difficult to measure as the leaf shapes often don't fit in a typical teaspoon. Weighing your leaves will help make sure that you are using the right amount. Most teas will call for 2 to 2.5 grams of leaf per 8oz cup of water.
Gongfu is definitely my preferred way to make oolong tea. Yixing clay or thicker walled teapots can be a great tool because they retain heat, making sure that you extract all of the aromas from your tea. Gaiwans are also a great method because you can use the lid to control the heat. Water temperatures will range from around 195° to 212° Fahrenheit with steep times between 15 seconds and 30 seconds.
What is your favorite oolong tea? Let me know about it in the comments!
When I sit down to write reviews here at Sororitea Sisters, I like to ask myself, “what does this tea remind me of?” … and usually a memory, a story, a flavor will follow. I’ve gotta be honest with you guys– this year doesn’t really remind me of anything. Or rather, it reminds me of lots of things? It’s a little like lemonade when it’s iced, but it’s got an earthy, almost slightly bitter aftertaste from the herbs. It’s almost like a green tea, in how light and fresh it is, but not entirely. It’s almost a little bit like Read More
“…Hear blessings dropping their blossoms around you.” – Rumi Fluffy snowflakes dance and float, piling softly one on top of other. In the same moment, the silvery hairs of white tea float and dance, delicate as snowflakes in my cup. Snow is white, yet white tea is not white. The whiteness of snow is a result of light scattered and bounced off ice crystals in the snow, and this reflected light includes all the colors, which, together, look white. White tea, however, is not white; when infused it becomes a beautiful, pale yellow. Its name comes from the young tea buds that have fine white hairs. White tea leaves are plucked and delicately processed and oxidized in a shorter time than the leaves for green or black tea. As you drink white tea, you will see fine white hairs drifting like snowflakes in your cup. This silky, aromatic beverage is perfect for any day including a snow day! Fill your cup with this winter blessing Nan Mei Wild Tree Buds White Tea from Camellia Sinensis Tea House. Camellia Sinensis brewing recommendations: use two teaspoons of white tea leaves, with 80 degrees celsius water, steep for 5 to 7 minutes. I hope you enjoy the last days of winter with the magic of this white tea. Interested in individually designed tea reviews? Weaving compelling visual stories for social media is a passion of mine. I love creating immersive illustrated reviews that awaken people to tea and culture. If you desire an illustrated review to engage your followers, please contact me.
Yum yum yum! This pu’erh chai has a lovely sweetness that turns it into a dessert. The sweetness is so strong I didn’t even put milk in it. (Is this chai blasphemy?) The pu’erh has a depth and strength that puts a dimension into it that a normal black chai doesn’t have. It’s a study in contrasts, and it totally works. One of my high school friends loved chai so much he had it incorporated into his AIM screen name. (That’s what the kids were doing pre-texting. Oh, the 1990s.) He’d always get it everywhere he went. He was like Read More
Following steeping recommendations, I steeped 1 tsp of this with about a cup of water at approximately 195-200 degrees F for 3 minutes. My first thought was that this tea smells like bee pollen, although I don’t actually have all that much experience with bee pollen, lol. But when I looked up the ingredients I discovered that bee pollen is actually one of them so I guess I was right! It steeps up a nice golden/amber color, but interestingly cloudy. Instead of a clear amber like many teas are, it had lots of tiny specks like golden dust floating around Read More
Gingerbread Tea from Sunshine Cottage…oh…how I love thee! I’ve had a lot of Gingerbread Teas the last 10 years or so. I have to say this one from Sunshine Cottage went the extra mile. I seemed to stand out over many others. Specifically because of the SWEET notes! Sure…when you drink a Gingerbread Tea you are probably looking for the gingerbread likeness and this tea DID have that but it had a little extra something, too! I kept picking up on a lovely, mellow, sweetness. All I could think of is sweet cinnamon. And sure enough…Gingerbread Tea from Sunshine Cottage Read More
I first had this at a child’s birthday party and totally wasn’t paying attention. I was like “I’m gonna TAKE NOTES in my SKETCHBOOK and write an ELOQUENT POST UPON MY RETURN.” But then I got sucked into pizza! cake! balloons! reading children’s books aloud! putting outfits on toys! The only thing I vaguely remembered was the thought that I wanted MORE HONEY from the tea. So this time I made it again, carefully, at home, with zero distractions* and a tiny half-spoonful of honey. *Except for my dog trying to jump on the couch and falling off. I laughed. Read More