Feed aggregator

Revitalize Ayurvedic Tea from TeaVeda

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 16:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  The Veda Company

Tea Description:

“Revitalize” your mind, body and spirit with refreshing and rejuvenating essences of wild mint, cinnamon and traditional Ayurvedic Indian Gooseberry.  Each blend is mildly caffeinated with green tea, one of nature’s antioxidant wonders.

Learn more about the teas from TeaVeda here.

Taster’s Review:

Indian Gooseberry is not something that I’m well acquainted with, so I googled it to learn more.  Based on the information that I could find, it is high in vitamin C, it is an antioxidant and does all kinds of other good for you things like enhances brain function, heart support and it’s good for your skin and hair among many other benefits.

OK, sounds good to me.

The berry is supposed to offer a very strong sour and bitter taste.  Bitter and sour are not two of my favorite words when it comes to describing tea.

So maybe the Indian Gooseberry is starting to sound less good to me.

But, hey, there are other ingredients in this tea too.  Not just the gooseberry.  Cinnamon and wild mint.  I like them.  And I like green tea.  So, maybe these other ingredients will help make the Indian Gooseberry more palatable.

So, I’ll try it.  Hey!  That’s what I do.  That’s why I’m here.  And that’s why you’re here.  You’re here to read about what I’m drinking.  And I’m about to drink this tea.

To brew it, I heated freshly filtered water to 175°F and I got out my favorite teacup.  Unfortunately, it isn’t the gorgeous Revitalize teacup from the TeaVeda collection.  But I like my sunflower teacup anyway!

I let the tea sachet steep for 2 minutes.  The aroma has a strong fruity essence with light background notes of cinnamon and a whisper of mint.

The flavor is strong.  It has a strong, berry like flavor that is indeed both bitter and sour.  The cinnamon and mint do balance this strong flavor out though.  I’m finding the flavor a little surprising because cinnamon and mint tend to be very strong, aggressive flavors and it surprises me that the Indian Gooseberry is a stronger flavor than the other ingredients.  The gooseberry is what I taste – front and center – while the other flavors seem to temper the bitterness and tart character of the gooseberry.

That said, I find the flavor to be enjoyable.  I am not a big fan of bitter and sour flavors, but, because of the presence of the mint and cinnamon, these two flavors are much more acceptable to my palate … not just acceptable, but actually enjoyable.

I don’t taste a lot of green tea here and if I’m to offer a complaint about this tea, that would be it.  I would like to have a stronger green tea presence.  After all, I’m drinking tea.  I want to taste the tea.

I found this tea to be quite interesting, and I could notice myself feeling revitalized after I finished it.  I would certainly drink this again if the opportunity presented itself.

Beau Bien Fine Foods Apricot Darjeeling Preserves

Tea For Me Please - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 16:00
I love finding tea infused treats almost as much as I love finding new teas to drink. Recently +Joseph Wesley Black Tea was serving uptea in NYC at Michele Varian Home Design. I stopped by to say hello but my eyes lit up when Joe told me to try these apricot preserves that were made using his Darjeeling. It was amazingly delicious! The texture was perfect and I loved that the Darjeeling was really able to shine through. I've been spreading it on toasted English muffins and sipping his 2014 Classic Chinese (review is in the works). If you are in the Detroit area I definitely recommend picking up a jar...or two...or three...or four.

{ "@context" : "http://schema.org", "@type" : "Review", "name" : "title", "author" : { "@type" : "Person", "name" : "Nicole Martin" }, "datePublished" : "date", "image" : "image url", "itemReviewed" : "item", "reviewBody" : "text", "url" : "http://www.teaformeplease.com" : { "@type" : "Organization", "name" : "Tea for Me Please" } }

Taiwan tea drink culture

T Ching - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 12:01

This is the take-out drink store that is just next door to my apartment in Taichung, Taiwan. It also happens to be my favorite of its kind. The main reason for this is the branding of this company. In my eyes, it definitely has the differentiation factor down. I watched the store being built and spoke with owner and founder when he was building. He quit his corporate engineering job and began his entrepreneurial career by developing this company. Three years later, it’s a success.

Along with designing his own machine to control water temperature and brewing time of the tea, he also had a clear vision of product standards, business practice, and service. He sources all his tea in Taiwan and visits the source directly to procure his product. Since this is my personal dedication and role in Eco-Cha, I fully relate to the significance of this.

ODM also differentiates itself by emphasizing the original flavor of its teas. The staff is trained to educate their clientele about the different qualities and characters of each tea type. I was shown one of their educational tactics of allowing customers to smell the chemical additives of flavor and aroma enhancers that the local population of iced tea drinkers has become unknowingly conditioned by. In doing so, tea drinkers are enlightened as to what is, and what is not a natural scent or flavor in tea. The small vials below are labeled Oolong Tea, Green Tea, and Red (black) Tea. When I smelled them I instantly recognized these scents as what the majority of iced teas smell and taste like, and was very impressed by their demonstration.

The manager that I interviewed for this article said that unsweetened Four Seasons Spring Oolong is one of their best sellers.  As flavored, iced teas are the most prevalent beverage in Taiwan, they offer a full menu of fresh fruit juice additions, as well as honey and other natural flavorings. Their product line is quality, but it is their ideology and pronounced representation of sustainable business practice that impresses me the most.

Incidentally, ODM rents its storefront from my neighbor, who is retired now, but used to sell quality Traditional and High Mountain Oolong Tea. Since I moved into my place ten years ago, I’ve enjoyed the smell of roasting tea leaves wafting out of this space and up to my balcony on the fifth floor. The old skool tea oven is still used by ODM as a promotion of their authenticity as a tea merchant. Here I am posing with the manager in their storefront, holding my complimentary cup of Four Seasons Oolong (unsweetened of course) in front of the oven:

Starting with the tea drink store that is closest to my home and to my heart, let’s take a quick tour of what’s around town in order to represent the ubiquitous presence and variety of tea drink culture in Taiwan. Here is a shot of two tea stores side by side, doing their thing by providing the masses with their own version of what millions of people drink every day. Most of these types of establishments do the bulk of their business by offering a free delivery service. Whole office staffs will order up on a daily basis to get their daily tea made to order.

Here is another venue just down the street from the above stores. The elegant sign above the store says “people’s culture tea drinks” and the green signs say “specialty milk tea”, “charcoal roasted oolong tea”, and “Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Tea”.

Along with takeaway drink stores, teahouses are also a very common social venue. They are more like restaurant bars where tea is the featured beverage rather than alcohol. Teahouses are used for business meetings as much as social occasions. This venue below is on a main road in the new business district of Taichung and has been a popular destination for at least a decade. I really like the post-modern design combining rustic and 21st century décor, including the uncut lawn in front – as well as the roof!

And here is one more very popular venue for business lunches and evening dates just around the corner from my home:

This is just a handful of snapshots of a culture that truly is everywhere in urban Taiwan. It is just a slice of the broad spectrum of tea culture that thrives in this 21st century wellspring of tea! Personally speaking, if someone says “tea culture”, I think “Taiwan”.

Andy Kincart writes on behalf of Eco-Cha Teas.  All images provided by the contributor.

The post Taiwan tea drink culture appeared first on T Ching.

Secret Garden Rooibos Tisane from The Secret Garden Tea Company

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 03:59

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Rooibos

Where to Buy:  The Secret Garden Tea Co.

Tea Description:

Our secret, scrumptious blend. Perfect afternoon tea or as a digestif after a heavy meal.

Ingredients: Rooibos, safflower and rose petals, blackberry leaves, natural flavors

Learn more about this blend here.

Taster’s Review:

This – brewed – smells AMAZING.  I am picking up on distinct vanilla notes.  Creamy and luscious!

And it tastes delightful.  I’ve never made any big secret about the fact that I’m not the biggest fan of rooibos.  I’d much rather sip on camellia sinensis.  But, when I shouldn’t be drinking caffeine (later in the evening) but I still want something “tea-ish,” rooibos is a good alternative.

To brew this tisane, I went with my go-to temperature for rooibos:  195°F and I steeped the tisane for 10 minutes.  Because rooibos doesn’t have the high tannin content of camellia sinensis, you can steep it longer to get the most out of the flavor.  I brewed this in my Breville tea maker, using 2 bamboo scoops of tisane to 500ml of water.

Now, most tea purveyors will tell you that you can (or should) use boiling water for rooibos, but I recommend dropping the temperature slightly.  I find that when I steep rooibos with boiling water, the flavor becomes “funky.”  It has a weird taste that I want to describe as “sour wood.”  Like a tisane that was made out of steeped sour wood and sweetened with saccharine.  I’m not a fan of sour wood (not that I’ve actually tasted it, so I guess I should say that I don’t think of myself as a fan of it) and I really don’t like saccharine.  So, I did some experimentation, and I found that by lowering the steep temperature a little, the saccharine-y sour wood flavor goes away and then I experience rooibos as a sweet, nutty, slightly woodsy flavor that I much prefer to the saccharine sour wood.

I noticed the delightful vanilla fragrance immediately as I began to pour the liquid into my favorite teacup.  And this has a delicious vanilla flavor.  I taste light floral notes as well and hints of berry.  And of course, I do get some notes of nut and honey from the rooibos.

It all comes together in a very delicious way.  It’s smooth and creamy.  The vanilla notes meld with the natural nutty flavors of the rooibos.  The hints of berry tickle the tip of my tongue in the aftertaste.

It’s a very relaxing tisane, and it has a dessert-y taste to it, making this an ideal tisane to choose for after dinner.  (A fat-free dessert substitute, perhaps?)  It’s sweet but not too sweet.

I like this one best served hot.  It doesn’t need any additions, it has a nice sweetness to it without adding anything.  A splash of milk might be nice if you want to enhance the creaminess of it, but I found it to be really pleasant and creamy without the addition of dairy.

Strawberry Kiwi Iced Green Tea from Southern Boy Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 16:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Zoomdweebies

Learn more about this tea here.

Learn more about Zoomdweebie’s tea of the week programs here.

Taster’s Review:

Over the last year or so, my iced tea consumption has definitely increased.  A couple of years ago, iced tea was a summertime beverage.  Period.  I only brewed it during the hottest months of the year, because I preferred (and still do prefer) hot tea.  But, I’ve found that it’s so nice having a pitcher of iced tea waiting in the fridge when I want something cold to drink and I want something cold to drink every day.  I may not drink it as often as I drink hot tea and I do drink more iced tea in the warmer months than in the cold months.  But I have reached a point where I’m drinking (and thoroughly enjoying!) iced tea on a daily basis.

So I have been enjoying exploring the teas from 52Teas/Zoomdweebies iced tea line:  Southern Boy Teas.  These teas are crafted with organic teas and flavoring and then bagged in large sachets to make brewing easier.  Yeah, yeah, I do prefer loose leaf.  However, when it comes to iced tea brewing, I have to admit that the convenience of the sachet/bag is one that is difficult to overlook.  Yep, I’m just going to come right out and say it:  I prefer a bagged or sacheted tea when it comes to iced tea brewing.

And what I like about these bags from SBT is that they’re large, unbleached bags.  The tea leaves have plenty of room to expand and do their thing to produce a very flavorful tea.  To brew this Strawberry Kiwi Green Tea, I heated 1 quart of freshly filtered water in the jug of my Breville One-Touch to 170°F and then I tossed the tea bag right into the jug of my tea maker and let it steep for 1 1/2 minutes.  I poured the brewed tea into my favorite glass iced tea pitcher (I temper the glass first by filling the pitcher with hot water from the tap so that the glass isn’t “shocked” by the heat from the 170°F liquid!)  Then I repeat the process, resteeping the tea bag but steeping it for 2 minutes with the second infusion and add this to the pitcher.  Then I allow the tea to cool at room temperature a bit before I put the pitcher in the fridge.  The next day, I have a pitcher full of tasty iced tea!  (Oh, and I keep the tea bag for next time.  I stash the tea bag into an airtight container and put it in the fridge, and then I resteep it again.  The green teas are especially GREAT for maintaining their flavor for a second 1/2 gallon of iced tea.)

My first impression of this tea:  Hmm … I couldn’t really taste strawberry and kiwi.  I can taste the green tea and I can taste a fruity sweet element to this but did it really taste like strawberry and kiwi to me?  No.  I found myself having to think “OK, what tea did I brew last night?”  The flavors of strawberry and/or kiwi were not immediately recognizable.

My second impression:  My second glass … OK!  Now I can taste more of the intended flavors!  I can taste more distinct strawberry notes.  The tea has a delicious strawberry sweetness and I’m getting that tart berry tingle in the aftertaste.  As I’m drinking, I can taste the kiwi too.  The kiwi is less discernible than the strawberry.  And I can still taste the fresh green tea flavor too:  sweet, slightly buttery and smooth.

The more I sipped on this tea, the more I enjoyed it.  I wouldn’t say that it’s my favorite tea from SBT but it is refreshing and I found myself guzzling it.  Even in the beginning when I couldn’t really immediately pick up on the flavors of strawberry and kiwi, I was still gulping it down because it’s still a very good, thirst-quenching glass of iced tea.

And the second pitcher of iced tea from this sachet is even better than the first.  The strawberry and kiwi flavors are much more focused in this pitcher.  Tasty!

White2Tea 2007 Repave Cake

Tea For Me Please - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 16:00
Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: somewhat dark, mottled greens and browns
Ingredients: puerh tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: dark amberish gold

Ah puerh, how I've missed you! I had heard a ton about this tea from friends on Steepster and Instagram. The base material was stored in Menghai for seven years before being pressed in 2007. The taste was vegetal with woody notes and a hint of camphor. There wasn't a lot of bitterness but it still packed a punch. It was slightly smokey but not unpleasantly so. The mouth-feel was fairly thick and brothy. I lost count after ten consecutive infusions but the leaves definitely could have gone for a few more rounds. One of the things that I love about +White2Tea is that they are very upfront and honest about the sourcing of their teas. For example, on this tea's page they say "We are unable to say with certainty the age of the trees, but the material is very good quality.". It's become far too common for companies to babble about ancient trees. Unfortunately it is now out of stock but there is more on the way.

2007 Repave Cake sample provided by White2Tea.

LoadingSeveral infusions into Repave from @white2tea. I may be tea drunk :-P #ilovetea #puerhaddict View on Instagram@-webkit-keyframes"dkaXkpbBxI"{ 0%{opacity:0.5;} 50%{opacity:1;} 100%{opacity:0.5;} } @keyframes"dkaXkpbBxI"{ 0%{opacity:0.5;} 50%{opacity:1;} 100%{opacity:0.5;} }{ "@context" : "http://schema.org", "@type" : "Review", "name" : "White2Tea 2007 Repave Cake", "author" : { "@type" : "Person", "name" : "Nicole Martin" }, "datePublished" : "October 15th, 2014", "image" : "http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-VL24_wu5dFY/VDB1EUUCjHI/AAAAAAAAJAc/DnuSGl7aWGs/s1600/2014_White2tea_Repave_4.jpg", "itemReviewed" : "White2Tea 2007 Repave Cake", "reviewBody" : "Ah puerh, how I've missed you! I had heard a ton about this tea from friends on Steepster and Instagram. The base material was stored in Menghai for seven years before being pressed in 2007. The taste was vegetal with woody notes and a hint of camphor. There wasn't a lot of bitterness but it still packed a punch. It was slightly smokey but not unpleasantly so. The mouth-feel was fairly thick and brothy. I lost count after ten consecutive infusions but the leaves definitely could have gone for a few more rounds. One of the things that I love about +White2Tea is that they are very upfront and honest about the sourcing of their teas. For example, on this tea's page they say "We are unable to say with certainty the age of the trees, but the material is very good quality.". It's become far too common for companies to babble about ancient trees. Unfortunately it is now out of stock but there is more on the way.", "url" : "http://www.teaformeplease.com/2014/10/white2tea-2007-repave-cake.html" : { "@type" : "Organization", "name" : "Tea for Me Please" } }

Global Tea Hut: the exquisite black dragon

T Ching - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 12:01

Almost exactly one year ago, I was witnessing an Oolong maker in Taiwan drip with sweat as he darted around two adjoining rooms to roast, measure and taste tea. Normally, he spoke quickly and with great enthusiasm. That day, he was more extreme in his behavior.

He weighed three grams of tea at a time against a gong ge coin, steeped samples for six minutes on the dot, assessed the aroma and flavor of each sample, and then bolted back into the baking room to tinker with his roasting parameters. Throughout most of these activities, he changed the topic with great rapidity, often leaving sentences incomplete to start new, unrelated ones as he set a timer or peered, eyes wild, into a woven bamboo roasting tray.

If his teeth weren’t so good, I might have been convinced that he was high on the locally preferred stimulant (a nasty, addictive drug that leaves teeth red and rotten). But it wasn’t that at all. Part of his manic mood was due to the task at hand: roasting Oolong tea to the desired flavor, aroma and moisture content, and part of it was due to a concurrent, yet entirely different, task. You see, the Oolong maker felt he had a limited amount of time to convince me (an American journalist) of what he had to say (that Taiwanese Oolong is one of the best types of tea in the world).

What he didn’t realize is that I didn’t need any convincing. The frenzied passion he displayed for Taiwanese Oolong that day was something that I could already relate to. Oolong was, after all, what brought me to Taiwan that year and the year before, careening around the island on a mad quest for more and more experiences with these beguiling teas. Like him, my fervor for tea was one of the sensory realm, which is to say one that brought only fleeting fulfillment. It was the long-suffering ardor that characterizes many a tea obsessive.

It is often said that if you ask a tea connoisseur what their favorite category of tea is, they will almost always say it is Oolong tea. (I’ve heard this said in various places around the world, but it’s not consensus reality everywhere. For example, in Hong Kong, Puerh rules supreme over all other teas, and in Germany, Darjeeling is widely accepted as ‘the best tea in the world.’) There is ample reason for this. Much of it relates to the inherent variety to the tea category we call ‘Oolong.’

Oolong tea is an expansive tea type, one which ranges from light oxidation to heavy oxidation, light roasting to heavy roasting, lightly twisted to rolled into tight pellets, fresh to meticulously aged for decades or longer, etc., etc., etc. It encompasses everything from teas that taste like tropical flowers and coconut to teas that taste like espresso and charred wood. Vegetal, fruity, sweet, dry, roasty, chocolatey—as a category, Oolong teas have all of these characteristics, and more. And, like other tea types, the flavor and aroma variations relate to terroir, but Oolong tea is particularly susceptible to manipulation at the hand of the maker. A skilled Oolong producer can elicit incredible nuance and depth in their teas, creating exquisite variations even within the multiple infusions of the same batch of leaves.

This immense breadth—So much to explore! So much to experience!—is part of the innate appeal of Oolong tea, and of tea in general. From the aroma (heady and floral) to the mouthfeel (buttery and rich) to the aftertaste (lingering on the palate for hours), it is easy to appreciate the sensory side of such a sensual tea as Oolong. However, to keep the sensual pleasures of Oolong (and of tea in general) as the primary focus of one’s rela- tionship with tea is to overlook the majority of the beauty of the Leaf (and, I believe, its intended purpose behind a connection to us humans).

Thankfully, the enjoyment of tea is not something to be overcome to reach a deeper connection to tea, but something to be pierced through. Much like the body (a seeming hindrance on a path away from worldly things and toward spiritual enlightenment) is often the gateway to spiritual enlightenment (through breathing exercises or yoga, for example), building awareness around your aesthetic enjoyment of tea can aid you in tapping into the spiritual side of tea. As a particularly sensual and spiritual tea, organic Oolong offers many distinctive opportunities to cross over from the physical to the immaterial.

One of the easiest entry points to the spiritual side of Oolong is mouthfeel. If you aren’t doing so already, when you sip an Oolong, see how long the aftertaste lasts and how it changes over time. Forget about tasting notes and comparisons, and approach this not a matter of judgment, but a deepening of perception, a means of staying in the moment and a way of honoring the Leaf. Access the spirit of the Leaf through awareness of the sensations it activates in your mouth and throat as and after you sip it. In our tea tradition, a tea that splashes up to the roof of the mouth is particularly appreciated. You could think of it as your body’s way of welcoming the tea or the tea’s way of rejoicing at being welcomed into your body.

You can also apply this approach of observing change and impermanence to steeping Oolong (and other teas) many times. Listen to the tea and, over time, you may come to realize that tea patience is rarely lost by the tea that being steeped, but often lost by the drinker of the tea.The way your body reacts to a tea as and after you swallow it is also worthy of some attention. Does your throat constrict or feel uncomfortable? If so, the energy of that tea is not right for you. (Perhaps it is not organically grown and contains chemicals that your body finds to be objectionable.) Does it glide down smoothly, relaxing the throat and moistening the mouth? If a tea slakes your physical thirst in this manner, then it’s also likely to help you quench a spiritual thirst for connection to something greater.

Fully experience the anicca (impermanence) of absorbing the tea into your physical body, remaining in the moment and honoring what the tea and your body tell you when they unite in this manner. You might be surprised by their wisdom.

Once you have begun to sense more deeply the ways in which tea and your body converge, you will likely notice the potential for a sense of intoxication from tea. It can be easy to slip into viewing this as a sort of ‘high’ to be chased down or an adventure to add to your catalogue of experiences. I recommend avoiding these traps, as they tend to keep people in a seeking mode that can be exploitative of tea, and result in an unending search for the next tea buzz instead of an unadulterated connection with a particular tea in a particular moment. Instead, harness the energy that results from the melding of you and a given tea in a given moment. Rather than using the tea like a recreational drug, use the experience of the tea to elevate your perspective. (Or, better yet, use it to help elevate others by serving tea to other people instead of just ‘getting high on your own supply.’ Serving tea simultaneously promotes spiritual connection, connection with other people and connection with tea, while keeping you grounded and preventing you from generating attachment to that particular tea. More on that another time!)

During my visit to the Oolong roaster, a few weeks before my first visit to Tea Sage Hut and my initiation into the spiritual side of tea, both the roaster and I were rooted in the physical sensations of tea. However, we both sensed that this was just the threshold, that some sense of peace lay just beyond his bustling about and my copious note taking. Every now and then, the tea roaster paused his verbal onslaught and hummingbird-like movements for a few moments. We smelled the backs of our tasting spoons and slurped samples of two teas he was roasting. For a brief time, the two of us (the manic tea-maker and the then-equally-manic journalist) were still and quiet.

According to my notes from that day, one tea was vegetal and roasty. The other was sweet with notes of orchids and unripe stone fruits. Now, I understand that on the surface they were very different, but underneath they contained the same thing—entryways to peace. It is simply a matter of stepping through the open door . . .

This post was written by Lindsey Badwin – evil twin of Lindsey Goodwin – and first published by Global Tea Hut in October, 2012.  Global Tea Hut has generously granted permission to T Ching to publish past articles from their publication each week.  These appear on Wednesdays.

Loading image from T Ching archives; Image 1 used with permission from Global Tea Hut; IMAGE 2: 

The post Global Tea Hut: the exquisite black dragon appeared first on T Ching.

Kenya Silver Needle Purple Varietal White Tea from What-Cha Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 03:59

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  White (Purple)

Where to Buy:  What-Cha Tea

Tea Description:

A delicate tea with sweet hints and a gentle taste of peony flower.

A completely new tea which has just been released to the world; Kenyan purple varietal silver needle white tea represents the latest development in purple varietal tea from Kenya. It is a very subtle and delicate tea which requires the greatest of care and experimentation to unlock its full potential.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

These leaves are beautiful.  They are so long that they almost look like pine needles (they don’t smell like pine needles though!)  They are darker in color than the typical “Silver Needle” – they have more of a purple-ish hue than a pale green or silvery color.  If I look closely, I can see very fine, short hairs on the leaves.  The aroma is soft with notes of flower and a hint of vegetation.

To brew this tea, I grabbed my glass tea cup.  I added 2 pinches of tea to the cup (these leaves are much too long to be measuring with a scoop!) and then added the water, heated to 175°F.  I steeped the first cup for 3 minutes and added 30 seconds onto each subsequent infusion.

I don’t often use this cup except for the times that I brew a “blooming” tea or other tea that I want to watch steep, and this was one that I thought would be interesting to watch because the “silver” (they look more purple than silver!) needles are so long and elegant looking, I thought that their dance would be something cool to watch.  Unfortunately, they didn’t really dance much.  But they still produced a delicious drink!

The liquid is very pale.  It almost looks “white” – not an opaque white but a very clear, transparent, slightly off-white, almost yellowish colored liquid.  It almost looks like water, it’s so pale!  I’m happy to say that it doesn’t taste like water!

The flavor is quite delicate though, especially in this first cup.  It is sweet and floral.  The floral notes hint at sharpness, but don’t quite get there because the overall tone of the beverage is so delicate.  It’s quite lovely and soft.  It’s one of those types of teas that you want to take some time to drink so that you can allow it to take you on a journey.  So many layers of flavor.  A soft, pleasant mouthfeel.  No astringency noted in this first cup.

My second cup was much stronger in flavor than the first.  Still a rather delicate tea, I am picking up on more flavor this time around.  The floral notes are less sharp and have melded with the other flavors.  I’m noticing a sweet, creamy flavor this time.  Still sweet and floral, but the creaminess softens any of the floral sharp notes.  At the tail, I pick up on a light fruity note that tastes of peach and orange.

A third cup?  Sure!  These leaves just keep on going.  This cup seemed less creamy than the previous one.  I could pick up on some nutty tones this time.  The sweet floral tones are still there.  I’m picking up more fruity flavor this time but it’s less distinct.  In the second cup, I tasted distinct notes of peach and orange but this time it’s more like an indistinguishable fruit.

As I sipped on this tea, I tried to compare it to other Silver Needle teas I’ve had.  This has less of a “hay like” quality to it, and the fruit notes are different.  Usually, I get like a delicate melon-like flavor from a Silver Needle – but here this is more like peaches and citrus.  I don’t get so much of that “fresh, airy” refreshing quality from this tea, instead, I taste more of a creamy, sweet, nutty flavor.

Sure, it’s different.  But that’s what makes it so good!  I love it when I discover a new tea like this!

Tea Certifications Demystified

Joy's Teaspoon - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 23:53

Our friends over at Teaity have written a really handy guide to help you sort through most of the certifications and logos that you might find on tea packaging. As mentioned in previous write-ups, Joy’s Teaspoon chooses to support tea growers that are supporting their employees via social  services and that take into account the impact of their growing on the planet. Many of our growers are not able to afford the certifications mentioned in this article and I’m not 100% sold that the programs are as effective as we might think. I also strongly believe that a better educated tea drinker is invaluable and it’s important to understand what all of the certifications mean!

Happy reading and thanks Teaity!

Organic Black Tea from Arum Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 16:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Arum Tea

Tea Description:  

A sweet and malty flavor that jolts the taste buds, with a caramel undertone and a floral finish.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I have to admit that I was a little surprised when I opened this package of tea.  The black tea leaves have been rolled into pellets much like the other teas from Arum Tea that I’ve tried.  Why then, did it surprise me to see that this tea has been processed similarly to the others?  I guess, mostly, because I’m not accustomed to seeing black tea leaves wound into pellets like this.

The leaves are a dark chocolate-y brown but otherwise look a lot like a Tie Guan Yin type Oolong.  The leaves have been wound into small pellets and they have a warm, nutty aroma.  Slightly sweet, slightly earthy.

To brew this tea, I used my Breville One-Touch.  I measured out 2 bamboo scoops of dry leaf into the basket and added 500ml of water.  I set the parameters for 205°F and 2 1/2 minutes.  The tea brews up to a rich coppery color.  The brewed tea has a sweet, nutty, earthy scent that is similar to the dry leaf, although this is a bit softer.

Mmm!  This tastes so good.  It’s a very rewarding taste.  I am finding it reminiscent of a Nilgiri tea because it has a rich, malty tone to it, although it’s not quite as robust as a Nilgiri would be.  It is somewhere between a Nilgiri and an Oriental Beauty Oolong.  I’m experiencing some of the texture and nutty flavor of an Oriental Beauty while I’m getting that delightfully smooth, malty flavor and rich, buttery caramel-y note from the Nilgiri.

I’d recommend drinking this straight up.  While most black teas take the addition of milk and honey well, I think that this tea would be overwhelmed by the additions and the nuances of this tea should be enjoyed to their fullest!  For that reason, I wouldn’t make this that first cup of the day.  Instead, this would be an excellent choice for a little later in the morning or early afternoon, when you want a delicious pick me up.

The second infusion of these tea leaves was also quite enjoyable – definitely worth the effort of resteeping!  This tea is really delightful.  It’s a bit different from the typical black tea and that’s what makes it so remarkable.  Everyone should try this.

I'm the Customer of the Month for Seven Cups!

Tea For Me Please - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 16:00
Seven Cups Fine Chinese Teas (+sevencups), one of my favorite tea companies, chose me as their customer of the month for October. How exciting is that!?! They featured a little snippet about me in their newsletter and I got a free bag of the tea of my choice. I picked their Huang Guan Yin since it's been on my wish list for a while now. Lucky for me it was the very last bag. A review will be coming soon. I love when brands take the time to recognize their customers and they do it every single month. If you haven't given their teas a try I highly recommend them, especially the Huang Zhi Xiang. There is a review in the works for the 2012 harvest but the 2007 is one of the first teas that I really fell in love with.
{ "@context" : "http://schema.org", "@type" : "Review", "name" : "title", "author" : { "@type" : "Person", "name" : "Nicole Martin" }, "datePublished" : "date", "image" : "image url", "itemReviewed" : "item", "reviewBody" : "text", "url" : "http://www.teaformeplease.com" : { "@type" : "Organization", "name" : "Tea for Me Please" } }

Fire and water for tea

T Ching - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 12:01

Fire is a masculine energy force and water is known as a feminine energy force. Much of our universe is either one or the other of these forces. When it comes to making tea – tea brings these forces together. Fire is used to heat the water, and the tea added to the water is believed to bring these two forces together. Most of the tea ceremonies can easily be seen as representing the balancing of these two energy forces. Then, we drink this beverage of balance.

Masculine (yang) and feminine (yin) forces have been fighting each other for generation after generation, but only because things got out of balance. Tea can been seen as one of the ‘balancing agents’ of these two seemingly opposite and opposing energy forces; and balance is what we all need in our lives.

Masculine energy is perceived as dominant, forceful, direct, practical, logical; feminine energy is soft, flowing, creative, intuitive, gentle. Water is feminine because of its fluidity. but we’ve all heard the saying, ” . . . over time water will cut through stone.” Fire is as masculine as you can get; yes, it has the power to destroy, but where would we be without it? Both of these energy forces are necessary in our lives, but as roles are changing for men and women, the lines of femininity and masculinity are getting blurred. Each and every one of us has both masculine and feminine aspects naturally within us, and in some, the aspects are perhaps out of balance.

I am speaking only of heterosexual relationships here. Some men have greater feminine tendencies, or are “in touch with their femininity.” In many societies and workplaces, this is frowned upon. As women fight for equal rights, they have a tendency to become more masculine than is natural and therein lies some of our problems. We take those problems home with us and the battle between the energy forces comes to the dinner table and to the bedroom.

Countries are seen as masculine or feminine; beverages are seen as masculine or feminine, too. The USA is definitely considered to have a masculine predominance. I am from Canada and I am sure Canada is perceived as a feminine country.

Coffee is a masculine beverage; tea is a feminine beverage.

What do we drink more of in the United States? Hmmmm. Now, I cannot say that the beverages we consume dictate the energy of our country, but in some cases, it certainly doesn’t help! Or, by putting a positive spin on things, it could be said that perhaps some beverages could actually help. Like tea!

Like most things in life, change takes time and making tea takes time.

To take the time to mindfully prepare yourself a pot of tea, or to prepare one for someone else, and perhaps share that pot with another, could really do wonders for a relationship. Understanding our energy forces – that they are not “opposing” forces but “complementary” forces – can ultimately help us understand each other and perhaps identify where we can make changes to enhance and enrich our relationships.

Men don’t think like women do.  Men don’t process information the way women do, and a man doesn’t respond the way a woman does. Once we understand and appreciate our differences, we can move into the place of loving and appreciating our partners – and even our coworkers – for who they truly are. These are confusing times for both men and women.

Men need to be men and women need to be women. Male energy is dominant and female energy is submissive. My choice of terms here may be very upsetting to some. But when this comes from a place of love and understanding, it does not mean one is dominant over the other or better than the other. These energies are simply different – and complementary.

The ancient wisdoms understood these energy forces and in some societies they even believed these forces were once ONE. Yes, everything is about wholeness and completeness. It is about accepting both energy forces within ourselves and within another.

Our external world can only be a reflection of our internal world. We are all seeking balance whether we know it or not. So, put the kettle on and see how easily these energy forces can be united and balanced in a pot of tea. Go ahead and drink the beverage. Drink it with reverence and drink it with an open heart and mind.

Tea is about harmony and unity – internally and globally.

TEA — just needs to BE — because it just IS.

 Images provided by contributor.

The post Fire and water for tea appeared first on T Ching.

October’s #TeaityChat

Joy's Teaspoon - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 05:45

Join us (we’re sponsoring!) for #TEAityChat on October 29, 2014! This month, we’re talking Tea Blends – A Burst of Flavor!

While Fanciest Formosa Oolong or a sweet Japanese Green like Sencha may be your “go-to” on a chilly day, there’s nothing like a flavorful tea blend! Whether blended with aromatic flowers or tasty fruits, our senses go berserk imagining a cuppa!  From Japanese Rose Garden to Genmaicha to Sakura Allure the options are limitless!

Join us for the chance to win great prizes from our sponsor The Devotea! Plus follow the hashtag #TEAityChat and our special co-host(s) @joysteaspoon and @amazonv, while we “steep” about:

  1. The different types of tea blends;
  2. Differences between scented teas, tea blends and flavored teas;
  3. Tips to blend your own teas; and
  4. Blends we love the most.

Mark your calendars for the next #TEAityChat on October 29, 2014 at 8:00 PM EST!  Be sure to follow co-hosts @Teaity, @joysteaspoon and @amazonv, plus our prize sponsor @The_Devotea_USA on Twitter!

And, don’t forget to RSVP for a chance to be entered to win one of our great prize packs from The Devotea and Teaity!

What blend will be in your cup during the October 29th #TEAityChat?


Aniseed Balls Tisane from Bluebird Tea Co.

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 03:59

Tisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Spice Melange

Where to Buy:  Bluebird Tea Co.

Tisane Description:

Award-winning nostalgic aniseed, star anise + liquorice herbal tea blend

This blend won the highest food award in the country. The judges said: ‘Truly original and delicious infusion that packs a true punch.. finally a blend that’s blokey’! It’s also the nation’s favourite childhood sweet. Not just our opinion, it’s fact. There was a survey, questionnaire and everything.

Learn more about this blend here.

Taster’s Review:

When Bluebird Tea Co. asked me what teas I’d like to try, this one was near the top of my list.  After reading the ingredient list, you might wonder why it was that this was one of the teas I requested…

Ingredients: Liquorice, Aniseed, Star Anise, Hibiscus, Stevia, Chilli. 

I mean, this tisane has two of my “I’d rather this tisane not have this ingredient” ingredients:  hibiscus and stevia.  So you might be wondering why I’d choose this tea.  But this tisane also has three of the ingredients that I love to see in teas/tisanes:  Licorice, Aniseed and Star Anise!  And I guess my requesting this tisane proves that my love for these three ingredients overpowers my disdain for the hibiscus and stevia.

Oh, I’m still wishing that the hibiscus and stevia weren’t in there.  Before even taking a sip, I’m thinking that it would be a better tisane without them, although it isn’t really a fair assessment because I haven’t yet taken a sip.

Star Anise – one of my favorite spices. Photo from Wikipedia. Click on the pic to go there.

The dry leaf is gorgeous.  Lots of whole pieces of star anise!  They’re so pretty.  It smells delightful too:  sweet, warm and zesty.

To steep this tisane, I used my Kati Tumbler.  (I prefer to use this device when I’m brewing a spiced tea/tisane like this because when I brew a spiced tea in my Breville, the spices become “embedded” in the tea maker and it requires a soak in baking soda to get the odors to release.  Then again, I need to soak my Breville anyway, so maybe I should have used it to steep this!)  I measured out 1 1/2 bamboo scoops of the tisane into the basket of the Kati and then poured hot water (195°F) over the tisane and let it steep for 8 minutes.

Ordinarily, when brewing a tisane with hibiscus, I steep it for 6 minutes or less.  However, I could see very little hibiscus in the loose leaf blend so I figured that this tisane could benefit from a little more time.  Spices need time to get their flavors to release fully.

OK!  So now it’ sip time.  I can definitely taste the hibiscus.  Next time I try this tisane, I might go with 6 1/2 or 7 minutes rather than a full 8 minutes.  That said, it doesn’t taste too hibiscus-y.  But I’m still wishing it wasn’t there.

That said, this is really quite nice despite the presence of hibiscus and stevia.  And for those who don’t really mind hibiscus quite so much, it does add an interesting tart, berry like flavor to the cup.  It’s a little bit tart and I can feel the insides of my cheeks pucker slightly as I take a sip, but because there is enough going on with this blend from the warmth of the chili to the zesty sweetness from the licorice-y notes, I find that the tartness doesn’t upset me.

The stevia adds sweetness (obviously) and this is a nice contrast to the spicy chili tone.  And take note:  even though chili is listed as the last ingredient, this tisane has a real spicy kick to it from the chili!  I can feel the heat at the back of my throat.  It’s not too spicy or hot.  I’m not running to the kitchen to find something to temper the heat.  But it is warm enough to alert the sensors in the mouth that something spicy is dancing around the palate.

But the three real stars of this cup are the licorice, star anise and aniseed!  This has a really lovely licorice-y flavor!  If you are a fan of black licorice, this tisane should be at the top of your must try list!  This has a lot of snappy licorice flavor!  Sweet and zesty.  It reminds me so much of the black licorice candy that I love.  In fact, it tastes as though someone liquefied some black licorice candy and then served that in a cup with a splash of hibiscus, a pinch or two of chili pepper and a little bit of sweetener.

I like this served straight up without additions but it would also be quite nice with a cinnamon stick garnish.  (I like the combination of cinnamon and licorice.)  Really, it doesn’t need anything other than that.  It could do without the hibiscus, although I’m not hating that the hibiscus is there.  The same goes for the stevia.  I like the little bit of sweetness that the stevia adds to this.  It’s enough sweetness without getting that funky flavor that I sometimes taste from stevia in teas.  Bonus!

Yet another huge win for Bluebird Tea Company!

Matcha Green Tea Powder from Culinary Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 16:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Culinary Teas

Tea Description:

Our Matcha is a thin Matcha called Usucha and best for the everyday Matcha drinker.  It is the perfect quality for enjoying the genuine taste of Matcha. Our Matcha is a light creamy liquid with a very sweet and mild flavor.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’ve tried quite a few different Matcha teas over the years.  And while I must admit that the best Matcha teas are those that come from companies that specialize in offering only the very best Japanese teas, I’ve quite enjoyed Matcha teas from other sources as well.  Like this Matcha from Culinary Teas.

To prepare this Matcha, I used my chashaku to scoop out three scoops of Matcha powder into my sifter (I just use a basic wire mesh sieve that I picked up in the grocery store in the kitchen utensil aisle for a couple of bucks.  It’s small enough to fit in my tea bowl and it’s got a couple of “feet” on it that hook onto the edge of the bowl, a plastic handle and a wire mesh “bowl”.)  I then sifted the powder.

Now, I don’t consider myself a Matcha expert by any stretch of the imagination, so I’ll just offer my opinion as to why Matcha is sifted.  I think that it not only eliminates clumps (clumps will turn into lumps of dry powder in the finished product and that doesn’t sound very yummy) but I believe it also aerates the powder a little bit – lightens it?  So that the proper flavor and texture is achieved in the final product.  That’s my opinion and not necessarily fact but I do know that I find that I prefer the Matcha when I sift it.

After I’ve sifted the powder, then I add hot water (160°F) and here’s where I become less useful to the beginner/novice Matcha drinker, because I don’t measure out the water.  I eyeball it.  Yeah, I told you that it wouldn’t be helpful, didn’t I?  I pour in about what I think is the right amount, aiming for “less” than “more” than the right amount, if you get what I’m saying, because you can always add a little more water but you can’t really take it away once it’s been poured into the bowl (chawan).

Then I whisk away.  I whisk with my chasen vigorously in a “W” motion until I’m confident that all the powder has been incorporated.  Then I give it a taste and see if it needs more water.  Usually, I need a little bit more because as I said, I tend to aim for “less” than I need than more than I need.  And I did today.  Now that I’ve added a final splash of water to the Matcha, I whisk again and then I enjoy!

The color of this Matcha is not quite as bright and vibrant as some of the pricier Matcha teas that I’ve tried.  But it does whisk up well and the powder stays incorporated until I’ve finished the last sip.  The tea froths up nicely with lots of bubbles.  It’s more of a bubbly, dry froth than it is a silky froth.  If you’ve consumed many different types of Matcha, you understand what I mean by that.  Some Matcha has a very fluffy, bubbly kind of froth, and some of it is a very silky froth with very fine bubbles.

The froth stays around for a little while and eventually disappears.  The flavor of this Matcha is nice.  It’s got a smooth, buttery flavor and a creamy smooth texture.  I notice notes of raw cacao, which I like Matcha to have.  Its sweet with some bittersweet notes.

Overall, I found this Matcha to be quite enjoyable and the price of this Matcha is extraordinarily affordable!  If you’re one who wants to drink Matcha everyday but find the prices of some Matcha offerings to be to excessive, you should give this Matcha a try!  You’ll get more Matcha bang for your buck!

Tearroir Everspring (Spring 2014)

Tea For Me Please - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 16:00
Country of Origin: Taiwan
Leaf Appearance: deep green , tightly rolled
Ingredients: oolong tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: pale greenish gold

I'm a sucker for a tea with a good story and I just had to give this one a try. According to Tearoir's website, "The teamaker behind the Everspring is known as “Grandma Fang,” one of Taiwan’s only female tea-master entrepreneurs.". 'Nuff said, take my money! At $8 for 50g, it's an absolute steal even without a great story. The leaves looked like a typical Nantou style rolled oolong. They were quite tiny but don't be fooled, oolongs expand quite a bit. The taste was really mellow at first, a bit vegetal and sweet. Baby spinach and sugar snap peas definitely came to mind. Then I started picking up a wonderful floral quality in the aftertaste that lingered long after each sip. Rather than a perfumy orchid like I had been expecting, it was much much lighter. I had a hard time pinning it down to a particular flavor note. Weirdly enough, I had visions of the Queen Anne's Lace that I used to pick as a child. If you are in the market for a Taiwanese oolong, I definitely suggest giving this one a try. In case you missed my podcast interview with the guys from +Tearroir Tea, you can check it out below!

Everspring (Spring 2014) was purchased from Tearroir.

{ "@context" : "http://schema.org", "@type" : "Review", "name" : "Tearroir Everspring (Spring 2014)", "author" : { "@type" : "Person", "name" : "Nicole Martin" }, "datePublished" : "October 13th, 2014", "image" : "http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-XRPkBwi8iiA/VCttRvxAFdI/AAAAAAAAI_4/y_ZkRcs4X0E/s1600/Tearroir-Everspring-2014-Steepster.jpg", "itemReviewed" : "Tearroir Everspring (Spring 2014)", "reviewBody" : "I'm a sucker for a tea with a good story and I just had to give this one a try. According to Tearoir's website, "The teamaker behind the Everspring is known as “Grandma Fang,” one of Taiwan’s only female tea-master entrepreneurs.". 'Nuff said, take my money! At $8 for 50g, it's an absolute steal even without a great story. The leaves looked like a typical Nantou style rolled oolong. They were quite tiny but don't be fooled, oolongs expand quite a bit. The taste was really mellow at first, a bit vegetal and sweet. Baby spinach and sugar snap peas definitely came to mind. Then I started picking up a wonderful floral quality in the aftertaste that lingered long after each sip. Rather than a perfumy orchid like I had been expecting, it was much much lighter. I had a hard time pinning it down to a particular flavor note. Weirdly enough, I had visions of the Queen Anne's Lace that I used to pick as a child. If you are in the market for a Taiwanese oolong, I definitely suggest giving this one a try. In case you missed my podcast interview with the guys from +Tearroir Tea, you can check it out below!", "url" : "http://www.teaformeplease.com/2014/10/tearroir-everspring-spring-2014.html" : { "@type" : "Organization", "name" : "Tea for Me Please" } }

Caffeine-free tea? Treasure or nightmare?

T Ching - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 12:01

I read with tremendous interest the recent article featured by World Tea News about the young neuroscience major who is trying to create a non-caffeinated tea via genetic engineering.

When you purchase decaffeinated tea, you must compromise a bit on taste and quality and this research could certainly be a game-changer.  Truth is, for most people, the amount of caffeine in green tea, for example, is so small and – being genetically paired with L-theonine – doesn’t really create any problems for the consumer.  There are some people, however, who refuse to ingest anything with caffeine, or want to significantly reduce their intake. This research, if positive, would serve these people well.

The promise is that the antioxidant load would be virtually unchanged. Although my first instinct was to applaud this research, I’m reminded about GMO’s and how my initial interest in the genetic engineering process was favorable.  Today, I’ve come to understand that GMO’s are dangerous.  The United States is the only first world country which allows these products to be grown on our soil – let alone appear on our shelves -without informational labeling.  This Frankenstein-like engineering creates a potential for physiological harm to consumers.

The lesson I’ve learned from GMO’s is that it’s best not to mess with Mother Nature.

Green tea has been used for medicinal purposes for over 5000 years.  The small amount of caffeine hasn’t yet created a problem for the countless people who have enjoyed the plethora of benefits from this humble plant. Perhaps we should leave well enough alone.

I’d love to hear what you think.

MAIN:              IMAGE 1: 




The post Caffeine-free tea? Treasure or nightmare? appeared first on T Ching.

Chai-napple Gunpowder Tea from 52Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 03:59

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  52Teas

Tea Description:

Crazy? Or genius? You’ll have to be the judge. I’ve taken some smoky gunpowder green tea and blended it with ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and freeze-dried pineapple to make a chai-napple gunpowder. Get it? Chai-napple? I kill me.

Learn more about this blend here.

Learn how to subscribe to 52Teas’  Tea of the Week program here.

Taster’s Review:

Oh, yum, nom, nom!

I generally brew ‘chai’ blends using either a teapot or my Kati tumbler because I find that the spices of a typical chai seem to attach themselves to my Breville tea maker and the scent (and the flavor) stays with the tea maker until I give it a good soak brew in baking soda.  I learned this fairly early on with my first tea maker (about four years ago!) and so I changed my approach to brewing chai teas as a result.

For this “Chai-napple” tea, I used my Kati tumbler.  I added a heaping bamboo scoop of tea to the basket of the Kati system and then filled the tumbler with 175°F water and let the tea steep for 2 minutes.  I generally add a little bit of turbinado (raw) sugar to a chai to bring out the spice, but I found that the pineapple lent a certain sweetness to the cup and it really didn’t need additional sweetener.  I guess if you want to add it, it wouldn’t hurt … but try it first!

For the record, the spices do cling to the basket of the Kati too, and I find to rid the tumbler and basket of the spices, I simply sprinkle some baking soda into the cup and basket, and then fill the tumbler with boiling water and let it sit for a while.  This does the job!

When I took my first sip of this tea while it was freshly brewed and still rather hot, I could taste the pineapple and the green tea notes very distinctly.  I wasn’t tasting a lot of the spices, but the pineapple and green tea flavors were quite strong.

After allowing the tea to cool to a more drinkable temperature, I began to pick up on more of the warm notes of spice.  I find that the three spices – cinnamon, cardamom and ginger – are blended in such a way to provide a deliciously warm medley of spiced flavor without tasting too spicy.

The pineapple is the real star of this cup, though.  It is sweet and juicy tasting, and I like the way it melds with the spices as well as the sweet, slightly nutty, softly smoky note of the Chinese gunpowder green tea.

And I noticed that the leaves had not yet completely unfurled with the first infusion and they were begging for another infusion.  Who am I to refuse?  I infused the leaves again, adding an additional 30 seconds of steep time.

With the second infusion, I could really taste the cardamom!  The cinnamon and ginger were a little more forward with this infusion as well.  I still got a good flavor from both the green tea and the pineapple too.  This is a blend you really SHOULD infuse a minimum of two times to get the true “chai-napple” experience!

The pineapple was a little softer in flavor with the second infusion, but I like the balance of flavors better this time around.  I can taste each of the components and it becomes a really tasty alternative to the “usual” masala chai!  I taste a little bit of ginger’s bite, a cozy, sweet cinnamon flavor and the warm, comforting flavor of cardamom along with the juicy, delicious flavor of pineapple.

The gunpowder green tea is a delightful base because it’s gentle earthiness and understated smoky note offers a compelling contrast to the sweet burst of flavor of the pineapple and the warm notes of spice.

This truly is a unique chai.  If you’re one who wants your chai blends to be hot and spicy, this blend might not be for you, because the spices are pretty mellow when compared to some of the spicy chai blends I’ve sampled.  But if you’re one who likes something with a mild level of spice and something just a little different (like pineapple!), I recommend giving this blend a try.

Taiwan AliShan Jin Xuan Oolong Tea (Premium Grade) from Cameron Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Sun, 10/12/2014 - 16:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Cameron Tea

Tea Description:  

AliShan is one the famous oolong tea growing areas in Taiwan. Located at altitude of 1500m, the mountain has a rich soil and ideal climactic conditions. The cool climate and moist from daily mists make the plants to grow very slowly and produce tender, flavourful tea leaves and buds.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Having previously reviewed Cameron’s AliShan Jin Xuan Competition Grade Oolong tea (and absolutely loving every sip of it!) I was very happy to try the Premium Grade of the AliShan Jin Xuan from Cameron.

I wondered how different the two grades would be and since it’s been a little while since I had that tea (back in June), I wasn’t sure that my memory would be as quick to recall all the nuances of the tea.  Thank goodness I have my notes to fall back on!

I steeped this the same way I steeped the competition grade (and for the most part, this is how I steep most Oolong teas.  There are occasional exceptions, but the exceptions are quite rare!)  I used my gaiwan and started out with a 15 second rinse and then started steeping.  The first infusion was 45 seconds and I added 15 seconds onto each subsequent infusion.  Since this is an AliShan, I used my special AliShan Yi Xing mug which holds four to five infusions.  This time, it held five infusions.

So this – my first mug of this tea – is the combination of the first five infusions.

Mmm!  This is so lovely!

I’m finding this premium grade to be slightly less creamy than I remember the competition grade tasting and feeling.  The mouthfeel is a little lighter here than the competition grade, which was rather creamy and thick.  This is still creamy and thick – just not as thick as I seem to recall from the competition grade.

The creaminess doesn’t linger the same way, either.  This feels much cleaner and even a little more refreshing than the competition grade.  The palate feels cleaner and less coated by the tea when I sip this.

That is not to say that I don’t enjoy that thick, creamy texture – I do!  I loved the competition grade!  But I’m enjoying this one too and am also enjoying the differences between the two teas.

As the tea cools slightly, I find that the texture and flavor thickens somewhat.  It’s still considerably lighter than the competition grade, but if you’re wanting a thicker texture from this tea, just let it cool off for a few minutes longer and you might find that you are getting more texture.

Sweet.  Hints of vanilla.  Lovely, soft floral notes.  A really beautiful tea.

Just as I experienced with the competition grade, I find that the second cup (infusions 6 – 10) is just as lovely as the first cup was.  Still sweet and creamy with subtle vanilla tones and floral notes that are emerging a little more in this cup than they were in the first.

As I make my way to mid-cup, some fruit notes develop on my palate.  At first, I thought of a fruit that is something between a sweet apple (flavor wise) and a ripe nectarine (texture wise with hints of the flavor).  But after I read through my review of the competition grade and I compared the fruit notes to a melon, I would say that comparison would suit these fruit flavors quite well too.

Another truly remarkable tea from Cameron.  I’m nearly finished with the set of Cameron teas (I think I have but one more to review!) and I have truly adored each one that I’ve tried.  This company is one that all of you tea lovers out there should check out!  If you want a top notch tea – this company has got you covered!

Tuk Tuk Chai Blend from Tay Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Sun, 10/12/2014 - 03:59

Tisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Tay Tea

Tisane Description:

This Thai inspired chai is bursting with flavor. Red vanilla rooibos tea provides the base for this infusion mixed with lemon grass, cinnamon, cardamom and ginger.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I really love autumn and one of the main reasons for that is because as I’ve said before, hot tea just tastes better when it’s chilly outside.  When that chill of autumn nips the air, it just feels better to hold a steaming cup of hot tea in my hand to warm me up.  And no blend of tea does that better than a chai blend.

To brew this Tuk Tuk Chai from Tay Tea, I used my Kati Tumbler and measured out a heaping bamboo scoop of the tisane into the basket.  I generally use some extra leaf when I’m brewing a chai blend because I like my chai blends strong.  If I’m going to go latte with a chai, I add a scoop and a half of leaf, but since I didn’t want to go latte with this particular blend, I just used a heaping scoop.  The rest of the parameters go like this:  195°F for 10 minutes.  Remember, with rooibos, you can steep it extra long without worry that it will get bitter!

This chai blend has an interesting combination of flavors.  The rooibos base has a honey-like flavor with earthy/nutty undertones and these flavors accentuate the earthiness of the spices in this blend nicely.  The cinnamon, cardamom and ginger add a pleasant warmth that is well balanced.  I’m tasting each of the spices without one overpowering the rest.  The lemongrass adds a bright splash of flavor to the cup.  And the vanilla softens the edges and adds a delectable sweet and creamy note.

It’s sweet and spicy, earthy and bright.  It has a very satisfying warmth to it.  It’s something that would be a nice, uplifting drink in the morning and a wonderfully cozy beverage for later at night.  And because it’s naturally caffeine free, it’s something you can drink at any hour without worry that it will keep you up all night.

Syndicate content