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Pu’er: The Final Frontier

The Devotea - Sat, 08/01/2015 - 20:49

Pu’er is a tea sub-type that I don’t often write about. And when I do, it’s usually with a sense of confusion, as in this post of a few years ago. I was approached by Nicholas Lozito, of Misty Peak Teas, which is a pu’er boutique supplier, with a proposal to offer some education to my readers via a guest blog or interview. I have only heard of Misty Peak...

The post Pu’er: The Final Frontier appeared first on Lord Devotea's Tea Spouts.

Mint Yerba Mate (Herbal) from Aka Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 08/01/2015 - 10:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Yerba Mate

Where to Buy:  Aka Teas

Tea Description:

Need some energy and focus? Yerba Maté has been shown to help the body digest carbohydrates (more energy!), burn calories from fat, and delay the buildup of lactic acid after a workout. 

Stimulating to the mind, body, and taste buds, Mint Yerba Maté can’t be beat. With it’s healthy concentration of polyphenols and antioxidants, Yerba Maté has been touted as the most nutritious and balanced energy-giver, when compared to coffee, black tea, green tea, guarana, or kola nut

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Aka Teas is one of my newest love affairs when it comes to tea shops.  I love their hand blended teas and the flavors each tea yields.  When I saw this one, I knew it would be instant love. And it was.

I’m a sucker for mint teas.  I have digestive issues so I find mint so refreshing and cooling.  Almost relaxing because of the cooling effect it seems to have on my body.  Pair that up with another love of mine, Yerba Mate and you have yourself a match made in heaven.  And that is exactly how I see this tea.

I dumped the sample of this tea into my One Touch Breville and hit the Herbal setting for 5 minutes @212F.  I wanted for that lovely beeping noise to alert me that my tea was ready.

I let this cool for a moment and dove right in.  The mint hit me first.  Such a lovely spearmint.  Clean and refreshing.  The Yerba Mate had a solid roasted flavor and that is the second flavor that hit my taste buds.  The two combined was a unique flavor but one I really enjoyed.  A mint refreshing cooling invigorating roasted tea.  Simple but full of flavor.  Each flavor played off the other and one flavor didn’t dominate the other.  If you are a mint fan and an yerba mate fan, I think you’ll like this one too.

The post Mint Yerba Mate (Herbal) from Aka Teas appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

Yogi Berry from Yellowstone Tea Co

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 07/31/2015 - 22:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Herbal

Where to Buy:  Yellowstone Tea Co

Tea Description:

This Berry tea is great iced and full of antioxidants for flu season.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I have been neglecting my herbal teas as of late.  I’m sorry herbals! I’ll try to keep you more in sight ;).

This tea is from Yellowstone Tea Co, an Etsy Store.  I have tried a few of their teas in the past so when I saw this poor neglected fellow in my tea basket, I knew it was time to try him.

Into my tea pot the sample went along with 1 cup of water at 212F to steep for 5 minutes.  The tea produced a gorgeous dark red liquid.  So very pretty!

What is so nice with this herbal is the different and unique flavors that have been added in.  There are apples, orange peel, elderberries, hibiscus, rosehips, carrot flavors, orange slices, lemongrass, beet powder, raspberry fruit powder, and freeze dried grapes. I can’t say that I’ve ever had a tea with carrots or beet powder.  I was excited to see what these flavors would produce.

The first flavor that hits me is the tartness from the hibiscus but it is nicely contrasted with the lemon from the lemongrass and the sweet flavor from the grapes.  The other lovely flavor is what I’m assuming is the beet powder.  There is a really nice sweet yet I swear there are hints of an earthy flavor there, maybe I should describe it more like a tangy note.  Last but not least are the orange peels.  They are probably my favorite part.  The citrus flavor that is added in really kicks this tea up a couple notches and really balances out the flavor.

This tea iced is even just amazing.  So many flavors going on.  Each sip is different from the next.  An explosion of flavor with each taste.

Such a fun herbal to end my day with.

The post Yogi Berry from Yellowstone Tea Co appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

Friday Round Up: July 26th - August 1st

Tea For Me Please - Fri, 07/31/2015 - 16:00
TEA BOOK REVIEW: Linda Gaylard’s The Tea Book +Drew Bednasek wrote a great review of my current tea read, an exciting new book from fellow tea writer +Linda Gaylard. July White2tea Club with 2015 Green Shroom Pu’er – Tea Review +Charissa Gascho made me quiet jealous with her review of this fun 'shroom from +White2Tea. Why does it have to be sold out?!? White2Tea 2015 Milk, Cream & Alcohol +Nicole Martinhttps://plus.google.com/103097147251455801975noreply@blogger.com0

Blast from the Past: Experiencing the Interest Firsthand

T Ching - Fri, 07/31/2015 - 12:00

If they’re not careful, trade journalists like me can begin to operate in a bubble.  From their desks, they research and write about what’s happening on the business-to-business side of their industry, losing touch with the business-to-consumer side.  Good reporters will prevent this by getting out often and talking face-to-face with individuals from every phase of the supply-and-demand chain they cover.

So it was with pleasure that I responded to my boyfriend’s request to hand out tea samples at an art opening in his flower and gift shop in downtown Las Vegas last Friday night.  He carries a small selection of tea in his shop and wanted to raise awareness of specialty tea among his customers.

Because it’s Las Vegas in August, I chose to offer one iced tea – a white tea-strawberry blend that I brewed and chilled about four hours – and one hot – a green-citrus blend.  For obvious reasons (it was 90-plus degrees outside after the sun went down), the chilled tea was the more popular of the two.

The opening was part of a monthly art walk, and my boyfriend’s shop got lots of foot traffic.  I probably handed out 40-50 samples and talked to a dozen people at length about the tea.

It was the latter that surprised me; that is, how many people were not only willing to try the tea and give feedback, but were also genuinely eager to learn more.  A few stayed at my table 10 to 15 minutes asking all kinds of questions about where the tea came from, how it was brewed, and so on.

Their curiosity was heartening, for several reasons.  First, I could tell that the overall ignorance of the difference between specialty tea and lower grades was matched by an overall desire to become informed. Second, I gathered that they would use the information gained in purchasing decisions.  And, finally, it helped my boyfriend create some tea customers.

Back at my World Tea News editor’s desk, I recalled the many conversations I’ve had with industry manufacturers and retailers about this process.  They’ve told me how important it is to educate consumers by handing out samples, conducting tastings, and creating other opportunities for conversation about tea. Hearing other people describe it and actually experiencing it are two different things, however.  I’m glad I was able to close that loop.

Telescoping this phenomenon out to a larger scale, you also begin to grasp the importance of events like the educational conference of our sister businesses, World Tea Expo and World Tea East, and of the Specialty Tea Institute.  While the potential for spreading information is invaluable, the risk of spreading misinformation is also present.

If the consumer is hungry for knowledge that will ultimately drive the growth of the industry, it behooves the organizations that provide industry education to make sure the retailers putting information in the hands of consumers are themselves well-informed.

In other words, the interest is definitely there.  The question is: What are we doing with it?

IMAGE1: IMAGE2

This article was originally posted in August of 2009.

The post Blast from the Past: Experiencing the Interest Firsthand appeared first on T Ching.

Darjeeling Black from Teapigs

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 07/31/2015 - 10:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black (Darjeeling)

Where to Buy:  Teapigs

Tea Description:

Pinkies out, bone china cups and saucers, silk neck scarf and snorty laugh at the ready – this is the poshest tea around. Darjeeling tea without milk has a unique, clean, refreshing taste. Traditionally drunk in the afternoon it tastes equally good early morning from a chipped mug.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Thanks to one of our sisters, Scheherazade, I got a chance to try a few sachets of this tea! Teapigs is a company I’ve been kind of curious about for a while; the Sobeys I work at carries a small selection of their teas (though not this one) and I’ve always found the packaging cute. I just simply haven’t known enough about the company or seen enough reviews to be interested in trying one of their teas.

I steeped up one of the pyramid style sachets I received from Scheherazade this morning during a heavy downpour and sat on the steps outside of our house, listening to the pitter patter of the rain, while drinking it. It was definitely the perfect atmosphere to enjoy and appreciate the warmth of the mug and the clean, well rounded flavour. I thought in particular it tasted rather floral, with a slight bit of malt and a sort of autumnal vibe – probably from the very slight spice notes throughout the cup. The mouthfeel is very, very smooth and silky. It’s not the best Darjeeling I’ve ever had but it’s far from the worst.

Very pleasant, comforting and unobtrusive flavour overall. I don’t know if I’ve been sold enough on this tea to want to purchase more of it, but I might finally pick up one of the different blends we carry at the Sobeys I work at as my curiosity has definitely been heightened.

The post Darjeeling Black from Teapigs appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

Earl Grey Green from Three Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 07/30/2015 - 22:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type: Green

Where to Buy: Three Teas

Tea Description:

This is one of the most popular of Three Teas blends.  This Green Tea version has the classic flavor of a traditional Earl Grey, but is made with Indian & Ceylon Green Teas and scented with Bergamot Oil.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This tea is one of the more popular blends according to Kathy @Three Teas.  I couldn’t wait to try it.  I do love my green teas and even tho Earl Grey flavoring sometimes is overwhelming to me, I was excited to try this one.

I prepped this one up per the instructions on the package- 2 tsps-185F-3 minutes.  The result was a very pleasant yellowish green liquid in my teacup.  The fragrance emitting from the cup was very bergamot oil like.  Almost overwhelmingly so.

Took my first sip and yes this is definitely a tea for the Earl Grey fans out there.  They bergamot is alive and well in this tea.  The green tea creates a very nice smooth buttery base (but very subtle) and the bergamot oil flavor is quite strong.

Unfortunately the bergamot was just too strong for me.  I think if there was some straight orange flavoring added in or maybe even some vanilla bean, this tea would take on a completely different profile making it pop.  I just picked up some vanilla bean so I might try that later.

Regardless, I’m really enjoying this green tea base.  I almost wish I could try that by itself without the bergamot oil.  This may just be one of those teas that need a little help to boost the flavor or maybe I should find it a new home.  I’m still glad I was able to try it!

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Global Tea Hut: June 2015 - White Cockscomb

Tea For Me Please - Thu, 07/30/2015 - 16:00
Seeing an envelope from +Global Tea Hut sticking out of the mail box always puts a smile on my face. I always enjoy the tea and "gift" immensely but as time has gone by I've come to appreciate Tea & Tao Magazine more and more. So much hard work is put into sharing knowledge in a beautiful full color magazine. The depth of information that I find in its pages each month is invaluable. I really Nicole Martinhttps://plus.google.com/103097147251455801975noreply@blogger.com0

Artisan Glass Teaware from Rochester Glassworks – Part 2

T Ching - Thu, 07/30/2015 - 12:00

I began the development of my custom teacup with tremendous excitement and minor trepidation if I’m being completely honest.  Here’s where my artistic abilities would surely come into play. No more excuses about being a frustrated artist who was limited by her lack of inherent talent. 

I thought about all of my favorite tea cups, all handcrafted and tried to consider what elements made them special to me. The underlying theme was actually one of art.  Holding a piece of art in my hand while I sipped my favorite tea brought tremendous pleasure into the ritual for me. Looking closer, however, I knew that I liked to hold the cup directly in my hand, eliminating handles of any sort.  The mouth feel on my lips was also important which for my taste was a thin rim.  The majority of my favorite teacups were made of ceramic or porcelain. Although I enjoyed drinking from my Bodum double walled tea cup, it just didn’t feel handmade.  For me, handmade is not perfect. There are imperfections inherent in handmade pieces making each one different from another.

I soon discovered that this was a learning process for Rochester Glass as well.  I was the first tea lover to design a custom tea cup.  Robin reports that they are working on a “’basic design options intake questionnaire’ right now that has a variety of basic cup, handle, body and saucer design silhouettes from which Patrons can then choose along with some other options such as colors and embellishments. That should simplify the initial choices and considerations a great deal for everyone to allow for a faster turnaround on the sketches/drawings for consideration.”

Once I identified that I wanted an “Asian” style cup, we started with silhouette designs which would establish the basic shape without clouding the issue with color and other design elements.  The first one that was presented to me was interesting, but I wasn’t happy with the dish.  It felt too modern for me.

That led to the second silhouette design which seemed to come closer to the imagine in my mind.

The next phase further detailed the concept and shape.  Should the cup have straighter sides or be more flared from the base?  Should it be taller?  How many ounces should it hold?  I must admit that it wasn’t easy for me to make a commitment.  I just didn’t know for sure which would end up being most desirable for me in the end.  At some point, I realized that I would allow the artist to use his judgment and help make some decisions, having had a good sense of what I thought I might like.

The last aspect related to color and design elements. As one who gets nervous having to choose paint colors for my walls, this felt a bit scary to me. It was suggested that perhaps using a lotus leaf as inspiration might lend it itself to an interesting element within the cup. I took a deep breath and we forged ahead.  A week later, my cup was completed.

The cup arrived extremely well packed – they do not mess around.  No way this was going to suffer any damage.  When I carefully unpacked the cup, I was clearly looking at a piece of art.  The truth is, it wasn’t exactly what I had expected.  The petals stood out further than I had envisioned. How was I going to hold this comfortably in my hands?  I carefully washed it and dried it and began my preparation of tea.  I poured it into the cup and again, marveled at the beauty.  I could hardly stop smiling.  I had to play around a bit with the orientation but once I found the sweet spot, we were good to go.  I needed to orient myself to the extended petal so that my hands could be comfortable as I brought the tea to my lips.  Hum…….heaven. Somehow, holding a piece of art in your hand and getting to actually use it every day is a pleasure that never ceases to delight me. 

I asked Robin to share a bit more about Rochester Glassworks, to help give you a better feel for who they are and what they’re trying to accomplish.

“Our motto at Exquisiteaware by Rochester Glassworks is, ‘Your tea never looked so good!’ Unlike many organizations, we truly believe in and follow our core company values in every contact we have with anyone.

“They are:

Quality – Quality trumps all production considerations.

Empathy – For patrons, their needs and desires.

Relationships – Patrons are family – treat them like a good family should be treated.

Advocacy – Create work and relationships people WANT to tell others about.

“We’re an American start-up and not afraid to tell people. There’s never been a better time to not only purchase a unique piece of American art but also to potentially buy the first pieces of what may be future Master glass artists in the field.

“We’re artists helping other artists concentrate on doing what they do best, create beautiful work without having to spend time and effort doing what they don’t do best, marketing and selling their work… Plus, we really love tea and teaware.”

The cost to create a custom tea cup like mine is $194.00.  When you consider the amount of time it takes to develop a piece according to your unique wishes and end up with a beautiful, custom, usable piece of art it’s very reasonable. Factor in the potential for appreciation as an art piece, which for me, pales in comparison to the daily pleasure of use, and it sounds like a bargain to me.

If you’re ever looking for a truly inspirational gift for your favorite tea drinker, I can’t imagine anything better.  Unless you decide to make one for yourself first, however, I think you’ll be very envious of them each time you watch them enjoying your gift.

Images provided by the author.

View Part 1 of this post here.

The post Artisan Glass Teaware from Rochester Glassworks – Part 2 appeared first on T Ching.

Front Porch Peach Iced Black Tea from Teakoe

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 07/30/2015 - 10:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Teakoe

Tea Description:

Enjoy blissful moments and gather inspiration by drinking this juicy blend of peach, ginger and licorice root. Take time to sit back, reminisce and envision what the future will bring.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

To say this tea was a hit was an understatement for yesterday’s fam get together.

Yesterday my parents came over for dinner.  We rarely seem to have them over for dinner and find ourselves mostly going to their house for any kind of gathering, so I was excited to finally return the favor.

Knowing that my dad was coming, I thought I would make up some iced tea to enjoy with dinner.  I was digging thru my tea and saw this package from Teakoe.  So far  I have enjoyed their Craft Iced Tea line and was excited to sample some of this with my dad and Jason.

This time around, I adhered to the directions on the back of the package instead of just cold brewing the tea overnight like I have before, but I did leave the tea bag in the pitcher and put it in the fridge.

My parents arrived and as I have been taught, I offered them a beverage as soon as they showed up.  I asked Dad if he wanted to some tea and he said, “Well Yah!” I gave him his glass and continued getting mom something to drink.  Before I had finished getting my mom a glass of sparkling water, my dad is already asking me for seconds on the tea.  I couldn’t believe it.  I gave him a pretty full cup. So I refilled his cup and gave him and Jason a cup.  Before I could finish getting my kids their drinks for dinner, Jason and my dad both are asking for refills.  So like I said. . . to say this was a hit would be an understatement.

Jason was out grilling when I handed him his glass and he came in to the kitchen and asked me what I had given him to drink and where would he need to go online to order more.  My dad was too busy downing another glass to really add anything more in.  Before I was even able to try this tea, the two of them had drained the pitcher and I was hoping the tea bag would hold up to a second steeping.  It did.

I was able to try this (I stole a few sips out of Jason’s glass), but I swear this tea tasted like a tea blend with rooibos in it.  It didn’t.  I looked over the ingredients several times over.

After dinner, Jason and I were talking about the tea and he asked me what was in it.  I listed the ingredients on the back of the pouch-peach, ginger, and licorice.  He said that he could taste each and every flavor and that it was the perfect iced  sweet peach tea with a hint of a wow factor in each sip.  I asked him what the wow factor was and he said a hint of a zing with a sweet background.  That made me laugh.  He couldn’t tell me what he thought of the tea base itself, just that all the flavors worked together and it was pretty darn close to being perfect.

Even tho I may not have cared for the tea, the guys certainly did.  To each his own tea I guess and this tea has already been requested as a re-order.   I’m happy to oblige! From what I’m hearing from the cheers and praise for this tea, this tea would be perfect to sit on the front porch and enjoy.

The post Front Porch Peach Iced Black Tea from Teakoe appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

Tea Review - Wymm Tea Sheng Pu-erhs - 2013 1st Spring Jingmai and 2010 Spring Kunlu Moutain

Notes on Tea - Thu, 07/30/2015 - 09:00

Pu-erh is an acquired taste, at least, so I thought until I learned that there is sheng (raw) and shou (cooked) puerhs. My first experience with puerh was with a not every well made sho puerh. I think it was a shou; it tasted like a barnyard. My second experience with puerh was with the guidance of Thesera of T Shop. I drank a white and puerh blend as well as a Banuo raw puerh. Both were very good.


One day I saw on Wymm Tea's Instagram a photo of the company's Mangnuo Tengtiao "Cane" Sheng Pu-Erh. When I read "cane" I thought of sugarcane (my Caribbean roots showing up). I asked the company for more information about the origin of the Mangnuo Tengtiao "Cane" tea which they provided as well as samples of four raw puerhs. The Mangnuo Tengtiao "Cane" Sheng Pu-Erh from Ancient Tea Tree 2014 First Spring is one. Another is Bingdao Laozhai Huangpian Sheng Ancient Tea Tree Pu-erh 2014. The third and fourth are the 2013 1st Spring Jingmai and 2010 Spring Kunlu Mountain which are the subject of this review.

My intent was to steep both teas until their end but in the heat I quickly became lightheaded. I infused the Kunlu three times (and prepared the leaves for a cold brew overnight) and infused the Jingmai seven times (and also prepared its leaves for an overnight cold brew). [Editor's note: the cold brews were fantastic!]


The aroma of the Kunlu after a 25 second steep was woodsy and caramel-like. It had an earthy (baby portobello mushrooms cooked in a cast iron skillet) taste and a long finish.  At the 30 second steep, a bark-like flavor emerged. The liquor was dry and smelled of dried fruit. The third infusion for 35 seconds yielded umami notes and stained my cheeks.


The Jingmai grabbed my attention almost immediately. After a rinse, the wet leaves released an aroma of apricots. There was also the sweetness of dried fruit like cherries and plums. This very pleasing aroma disappeared with the first infusion but the liquor had a lingering sweetness. I steeped the leaves for a second time for 30 seconds then a third time for 35 seconds. At the latter, there was a crescendo of flavors including a floral note (it's supposed to be orchid). The liquor was dry and had a long finish. At the 40 second mark, the liquor was still dry but a nutty note emerged, similar to marzipan. The fifth infusion at 50 seconds was fruit heavy. The array of flavors tapered off at 50 seconds and were mostly gone by 60 seconds. I think this was due primarily to the fact that I was experiencing tea drunkenness.


The Jingmai was my favorite of the two raw puerhs reviewed here. I look forward to preparing the other two puerhs.

Puerhs courtesy of Wymm Tea. Thank you.

Australia Houjicha Green from What-Cha

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 07/29/2015 - 22:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy: What-Cha

Tea Description:

Two Rivers Green Tea started producing tea in 2001 with the aid and encouragement of Japanese tea experts who were seeking to encourage Japanese style tea production for the domestic Japanese market. The Two Rivers farm was selected as it has the same latitude of southern Japanese tea farms, idea temperatures, rainfall and great quality topsoil.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Recently I placed a What-Cha order for myself, and one of the things I was looking for was a Houjicha to stock up since it’s one of my favourite kinds of green tea and while I currently have a Genmaicha stocked that I really like there’s a hole in my cupboard where a good Houjicha should be. This one comes from Australia, and personally I’ve never tried an Australian grown tea before though I was aware that they were produced. Australia is one of those regions that isn’t typically thought of as a tea growing region among people who aren’t more learned tea drinkers the same way people don’t realize tea is grown in places like Kenya or Hawaii and I’m very excited to get my first taste of an Australian tea, especially considering how affordable this blend was. It was an easy thing to gamble on.

I do think this was worth the gamble. While it’s not as straightforwardly roasty as I tend to prefer from a good Houjicha there are some very, very nice subtle nuanced flavour notes that more than makes up the different. For starters, there’s an interesting nutty notes that seems to make itself known in each part of the sip in a different way. With that first initial taste it’s light lightly toasted nuts, and then in the body it weaves in and out between the other flavours. In the aftertaste, you’re tasting the shadow of the nut flavour which once was.

There’s also some really nice sweeter notes like caramel and cocoa which gently stretch out across the surface of your tongue, creating this really nice, smooth body flavour. The finish is lightly smokey, and leaves you wanting to go back in for another sip so you can experience the flavour dynamics all over again. Overall it’s a very warming and welcoming cuppa.

I definitely think I’ll clear my purchase of this easily, and will probably go back for more after that. More than that, this only gets me even more excited to try more of what Australia has to offer!

The post Australia Houjicha Green from What-Cha appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

An Introduction to Hagi

Tea For Me Please - Wed, 07/29/2015 - 16:00
Japan is famous for several pottery styles but one of my favorites is known as Hagi Yaki. It is a glazed, high-fired stoneware that is the specialty of the city of Hagi in Yamaguchi Prefecture. The glaze can be made in a variety of colors but milky white is the among the most recognizable. This style of pottery originated in Korea and was brought to Japan in the 17th century. No two pieces Nicole Martinhttps://plus.google.com/103097147251455801975noreply@blogger.com0

Gong Fu Tea Tips

T Ching - Wed, 07/29/2015 - 12:00

In tea preparation, there is always a lot of discussion of form versus function. On the one hand, it shows great respect to prepare the tea in a way that allows its greatest virtue to shine forth. It took a tremendous concert of natural energies and billions of years to evolve this plant medicine, bestowed on us by Nature. And tea is one of the most taxing crops, costing farmers countless hours of toil. Then, for most of us, there is the work of transporting the tea to where we live—mostly done by hardworking tea merchants who love the Leaf and want to share it. Finally, we also work hard to gather the money needed to buy our tea. In honor of all this, we brew the tea in a way that it wants to be brewed: the way that allows its essence to be glorified. And for that reason, most tea lovers usually incline towards function over time, choosing teaware and brewing methodologies that enhance tea over those that are performance-based or merely look nice.

Despite the need for function, we also cannot neglect form either. There is an enhancement, indefinable but definitely real, when we enjoy tea in pleasant surroundings and when the movements of the brewer are graceful and beautiful. It does make the tea better though we may not be able to describe just how it does this. Some flowers near the tea, a recent guest announced, completely changed his experience of the tea.

The stage on which the tea is performed is called the “Cha Xi” in Chinese. It is usually composed of a tea cloth, a tea pillow or tea boat, some utensils and maybe a waste-water vessel (jen shui). Then, we can decorate the space however we want: with flowers, a Buddha, stones, bamboo or wood. These help calm us and bring a sense of harmony to the session. They enhance the story the tea is telling us the way that the stage—its props and decorations—can enhance the work of great actors. Still, fancy special effects won’t make a silly movie great. The plot and the acting are always more important, and we’d rather watch a great actor on an empty stage than a poor actor tell an uninteresting story on a fancy stage with a lot of props. Similarly, a simple tea in a bowl with no stage is better than a gorgeous stage in which the tea is forgotten. Sometimes this happens, just as Hollywood sometimes makes fancy movies with no substance. People also get wrapped up in the performance and beauty that surround tea and forget why they are there—to make great tea!

Perhaps form is a kind of function when it is used properly? Try adding some summer touches to your tea this month: a nice tea cloth with some decorative colors that match some aspect of your tea, a scroll, some flowers, a rock or wood—anything that calms the mind and soothes the soul, enhancing the work that the tea is doing. You will find that a bit of form can make your tea much more enjoyable, as long as you don’t lose sight of the tea. We often leave the vessel and cups/bowls alone and use other aspects of the Cha Xi to express ourselves.

Arranging our space for tea is like a mandala, which is a piece of artwork meant to express this moment’s relationship to all of time and space—to show the cosmic significance of our gathering and the galaxies beyond all our personal drama. The Dao won’t be ruffled by our entire existence, and even after our sun has long gone out and we are but a memory in space, the stars will still wheel on and the Dao will embrace it all. Allow the smallness and ordinariness of your tea session to resonate with the greatness of Being and you will have found the function in the form!

“Gong Fu Tea Tips” was originally published by Global Tea Hut in May of 2013. Images courtesy of Global Tea Hut.

The post Gong Fu Tea Tips appeared first on T Ching.

Peach vs. Bergamot ft. Formosa Oolong from Liquid Proust Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 07/29/2015 - 10:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy: Liquid Proust Teas

Tea Description:

Ingredients: Formosa oolong, marigold, flavoring

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I probably would have never thought to pair Peach and Earl Grey/Bergamot, which is I guess why Andrew at Liquid Proust Teas is the blender and not myself. The idea is intriguing though; and I have to admit I’m incredibly happy to not see apricot or mango thrown in here as well; I get so tired of those flavour combinations. It’s been done time and time again, and it’s refreshing to see something else. The oolong base is really innovative as well; with it’s characteristic fruity flavour Formosa is a fantastic choice.

The dry leaf smells really incredible! You can get a sense of the bergamot as this grounded, lofty sort of flavour but then the ripe, plump aroma of fresh peaches seems to bounce off it! It smells juicy, and I can’t help but picture taking a bite of some sort of fantastic peach/orange hybrid and having the sugary juices running down my chin like some sort of gluttonous child gorging themselves on fresh picked fruit.

In traditional Earl Grey fashion I made sure this was my first tea of the day; however because I got the impression this was going to be more naturally sweet than a lot of EG I’m familiar with so I iced it instead of having it hot. True to my suspicions this was pretty sweet but in a very natural way that was realistic to the sweetness of fresh fruit. The bergamot was actually a lot milder than I would’ve guessed it to be base on the smell of the dry leaf. It ran like a citrusy current throughout each sip, consistently merged with the body of the sip. The peach left me breathless; there was something unnatural about it, but not in an artificial way or anything like that. It was more unnatural in a “how can this taste so plump, rich, and juicy!?” sort of way. I’m not really a fan of actual peaches, but if they all tasted like that I’d go through a crate of them a week. The bergamot and peach compliment each other to a tea; similar to what I was getting from the dry smell the bergamot is this lovely stable flavour and the peach seems to jump off it.

The formosa base was a great choice; while there’s a really faint but of astringency it doesn’t detract and the natural fruitiness of the oolong contributes even more lively fruit flavours. What I specifically observed was a really rich stonefruit like flavour in line with cherry, but a little more of a cocktail cherry type of note, which just goes incredibly well the peach. Plus, oolong means more solid steeps and so more bang for your buck.

As someone who is neither anti-Earl Grey or Peach but who doesn’t seek out those flavours I want to own this. I think I could drink it often; and with a growing list of Liquid Proust Teas that are blowing my mind Andrew is slowly wearing me down to the point where a LP order is probably in my near future despite the poor state of the Canadian dollar. Definitely a blend worth trying!

A final note though, in the battle of bergamot vs. peach I think peach wins…

The post Peach vs. Bergamot ft. Formosa Oolong from Liquid Proust Tea appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

Sun From Brew Mama Herbalism

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 07/28/2015 - 22:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Herbal

Where to Buy: Brew Mama Herbalism

Tea Description:

Sun Tea is blended with herbs packed full of antioxidants, and vitamins A, B, C and D . This blend makes a great cold and flu prevention. It is a delicious tea the entire family will enjoy. Kids love this tea, and if you don’t tell them it’s really good for them, they will never know

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This is just about the perfect herbal tea for me.  Sweet and tart with hints of a grassy touch.

Brewed up hot (212F-1c water-5 min steeping) I really didn’t care for this one.  The hibiscus was incredibly strong and the taste reminded me of unsweetened kool-aid.  Where my heart lays with this tea is when this tea is on ice.

When iced, this tea takes on a completely different taste.  The hibiscus is still there but there is now a sweetness that is combating the tart, making the tea just delicious. Refreshing is the word that comes to mind.

I love teas like this.   The flavors are bright, crisp, and they make you think of summer.  This tea is even a bit better than your normal herbal because there is this amazing grassy flavor coming in. Yum!

I love Brew Mama Herbalism’s Teas. Angie does such a great job.  Not one herbal note takes over the other.  Just the right touch.  Kudos Angie!

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The Taiwanese Oolong Issue - Going Out July 31st!

Tea For Me Please - Tue, 07/28/2015 - 21:00
I can't believe that it's already time for the next quarterly journal. My mailing list has grown by leaps and bounds and I have all of you to thank for that. From a small list of under 200, you've grown to over 500 subscribers. That's a lot of tea lovers! This time around I'll be focusing on one of my favorite types of tea, Taiwanese oolongs. There are some great articles lined up from +Tealet,Nicole Martinhttps://plus.google.com/103097147251455801975noreply@blogger.com0

Teatulia Black Tea Loose Leaf

Tea For Me Please - Tue, 07/28/2015 - 16:00
Country of Origin: Bangladesh Leaf Appearance: small, dark with golden tips Ingredients: black tea Steep time: 3 minutes Water Temperature: 212 degrees Preparation Method: Teavana Perfect Tea Maker Liquor: reddish brown I first wrote about this tea way back in 2011, in its pyramid tea bag form, so I thought that I should give it another go. For those of you who aren't familiar with +Teatulia Nicole Martinhttps://plus.google.com/103097147251455801975noreply@blogger.com0

Opening a Tea Store… Is That Your Dream? Part 2

T Ching - Tue, 07/28/2015 - 12:00
Running a great business on a shoestring is no easy task.  Well-known chefs usually have an investor or partner(s) to establish their restaurant brands.  It does really take money to make money.

If you are leaning toward a store rather than a cafe, you will need displays, shelving, focus lights, a good amount of inventory stock and, since many concepts are a combination of both, you will need to decide where your emphasis will be.  I can’t tell you how many times we were in the process of making a $50 loose tea sale when someone just wanted a tea to go for $2.50 and was in a big hurry to get it and get going.  Staff decisions are important, not only as to how many per shift, but also the personality type and amount of training in tea and customer service you plan to provide.  What about pay?  Will it be by the hour with tips, and/or with a bonus or profit-sharing program?   Will you manage the store or hire an experienced manager?  Are you physically up to 60-80 hour work weeks?  This is not necessarily age-dependent. I know of two women in the eighty-year range who work their restaurants hands-on. I’ve worked with twenty-somethings that couldn’t keep up with me or them.

Do you know what your average ring goal is?  Does it surprise you that coffee houses and cafes average around $6 per transaction as an industry, whereas Teavana, as a ‘mall store’ concept, averages over $30 per transaction?  How many rings a day on average will a particular location support?  Once you’ve found the location, whether you are working solo or with an experienced commercial real estate agent, sit and watch foot traffic and time patterns and talk to other retailers nearby about their experiences.  A landlord told us that Starbucks closed a store in our area that didn’t hit $800,000 a year in sales. If that’s true, divide the average transaction into that number and figure out the daily customer traffic needed to hit it.  How many days and hours will you be open?   Commercial leases include times you must have the store open and commercial landlords have no qualms about enforcing lease terms.

So, back to the dream: who will your vendors be and how will you find them?  The easy answer is trade shows but I can tell you that my best vendors were not found through trade shows but through word of mouth, lots of research, and calling and emailing and sampling and searching and digging.  How much do you know about tea itself? How much do you know about major growing regions, how tea is processed, differences between regions, terroir, flushes, Fair Trade, organic?   Some of your customers will know a whole lot about tea, but most will know almost nothing and will expect you to educate them.

Inventory control is a huge factor in running a business.  Even with ‘forever’ shelf life, general merchandise is expensive (to you) if it just sits on the shelves looking pretty.   If you offer food, how it complements the tea selections is important.  In cafe concepts, it often happens that the person who went into business to sell tea ends up running a sandwich shop when the concept is not clear or focused.

There are too many details to cram into a short post, but bookkeeping, constant cleaning, and dealing with city, county, state and even federal government agencies are just a few of the things that come into play.  In short: the reality is that you will become much more than a person who wants to sell and share their love of tea!  “Great it is to dream the dream…”

All that and the tremendous time and cost aside, here we go again.  This will be my third launch into the deep, and this time I have much more helpful information to move forward with.  Like a veteran with war scars and a bit of trepidation, I sit here looking at the new dream on paper, and the entrepreneurial adrenalin still starts pumping.  It’s like you can’t help yourself.  You get pregnant again, even with the memories of the pain of childbirth, exhaustion of early morning feedings, and innumerable challenges as the child matures.

Possibly, hopefully, in 9 months (or longer?), our newest baby will be ready to meet the world!  If you’re ‘pregnant’ as well, I hope this was helpful and wish you all the best!  And, whatever you do, avoid a premature birth…haste makes waste and expensive mistakes.  We will not go out into the arena again without adequate financial resources (not loans!), a finely tuned concept, and an “A” location.  I urge you to do the same.

Are you already a retail tea business owner?  I’d love to hear your input and experiences!

This is the second in a two-part series. To read part one, click here.

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