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Tea Apparel: Sweet Tea College Southern Tee Shirt from Sweet Tea Junkie. . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 01/12/2017 - 16:00
Today’s post of the moment? Tea Apparel: Sweet Tea College Southern Tee Shirt from Sweet Tea Junkie! A while back The Sororitea Sisters attempted to start the hashtag #TeaTeeTuesday! We encourage you to show off your Tea themed Tee-Shirts on Tuesdays on Social Media! Since we are starting to get more and more Tea Apparel in I thought I would post one today from Sweet Tea Junkies! It’s their Sweet Tea College Southern Tee Shirt. It’s what I would refer to as colligate blue with orange lettering! Personally the blue reminds me of my high school blue and the orange Read More

Silver Yeti from Nepal Tea LLC. . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 01/12/2017 - 12:00
  Every once in a while I crave that light floral subtle buttery flavor that only a good solid white tea can deliver.  After drinking quite a few heavier teas today, a solid white tea was exactly what I was craving. Luckily, I had this tea waiting to check out. Nepal Tea LLC  will be launching a Kickstarter campaign in February of 2017 so I thought it would be a good idea to see what they offer to see if I wanted to back them.   Here is a bit about them: Nepal Tea was conceived in May 2016, when Read More

The English Tradition of Afternoon Tea

T Ching - Thu, 01/12/2017 - 09:01

I’ve been spending my winter this year in Spain and much to my displeasure, the Spanish are not enamored with tea……yet!  Being in Andalusia along the southern coast, which is reported to have the warmest temperatures in the EU during the winter months, it’s no surprise to find countless retired Brits establishing homes here. One town in particular, Nerja, is said to be 51% British.

Needless to say,  I brought along all of my favorite green teas to hold me over for the two months of being here. I have met a fair amount of Brits during this time and, of course, when I have them over to my house, I always offer tea. When asked what they’d like to drink they consistently request black tea. That is the perhaps the one type of tea that I didn’t bring along.

Being among the British, however, has stimulated my interest in their tea drinking traditions. I’ve learned that tea was first introduced in the mid 1600’s but, due to its high price, was pretty much limited to the aristocracy. Tea first found its way into coffee houses which at the time were the sole purview of men. It wasn’t until tea shops were later introduced when women were given the opportunity to enjoy tea as well.

A little research taught me that Afternoon Tea, the uniquely British event, first appeared in the mid 1800’s. As the story goes, most people at that time ate only 2 meals a day; breakfast and a late dinner between 8-9. Apparently Anna, Duchess of Bedford, became quite hungry in the afternoon and began requesting a cup of tea and some sweets to tide her over until dinner. Soon thereafter, she turned this into a social event by asking her friends to join her. Once the aristocratic class embraced this delightful tradition, the working class soon followed. It became a great way to take a pause from their difficult working schedule, almost like the “coffee breaks” that were popular in the 50’s and 60’s in the U.S.

I’m told this tradition of afternoon tea continues today in homes throughout England and in cafes around the country. Now if they could just serve some higher quality tea……that would be another milestone in this long standing tradition.

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The post The English Tradition of Afternoon Tea appeared first on T Ching.

Here’s to the New Year! Let’s Toast From BlendBee. . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 01/12/2017 - 00:00
  Happy New Year one and all!  I hope the New Year has treated all of our dear readers well.  What better way to start the New Year than with a tea that is completely out of my comfort zone. I thought this could be the year that I really try and expand my tea horizons with ginger. Ginger and I have a love hate relationship. Until recently, I absolutely couldn’t handle anything with ginger in it. But I’ve found that  I’ve started to really enjoy ginger and even ate candied ginger. . .and loved it. I’m wondering if my Read More

Cacao Tea from Oliver Pluff & Co. . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 01/11/2017 - 21:00
I recently found out something VERY interesting! Martha Washington and I had/have something VERY IMPORTANT in common! We both admire and appreciate Cacao! Therefore I MUST tell you more about Cacao Tea from Oliver Pluff & Co. Cacao Tea from Oliver Pluff & Co. is a WYSIWYG type of tisane! What you see is what you get – that is! The one and only ingredient in this herbal tea is roasted cacao shells. According to the company’s website Martha Washington enjoyed steeping the shells of roasted cocoa nuts from the cacao tree for the interesting flavor and health benefits. There Read More

Tummy Mint from Yerba Buena Tea Co.. . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 01/11/2017 - 17:00
Some teas and tisanes I drink for a very specific reason. Today I would like to share with you TWO reasons I decided to reach for Tummy Mint from Yerba Buena Tea Co. It was the middle of the week and I went out for lunch with ‘the boss’ and ‘the owner’ and I had a large salad with various nuts, seeds, fruits, and veggies on it. The dressing I chose was a potent balsamic. It was tasty when I was gnawing on it but it left gurgles later. I went back to the office and decided to try Tummy Read More

Four Seasons Tea Co. Lan Hua Xiang Oolong

Tea For Me Please - Wed, 01/11/2017 - 17:00
Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: dark green, tightly rolled
Ingredients: oolong tea
Steep time: 10 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: deep gold

I hate to break it to you, tea friends, but I have another really awesome Four Seasons Tea Co. tea to tell you about. I will not be held responsible for any damage that might now be done to your wallet or yearly tea budget. At $1 per gram, this tea is not an inexpensive one. I do have to say that it is definitely worth it for a special treat. Proceed at your own risk.

Bianca from The NecessiTeas. . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 01/11/2017 - 12:00
I’m long overdue for reviewing a flavored white tea so I figured today was as good as a day as any! Bianca from The Necessiteas is a flavored white tea sure to impress! I know it impressed me! With lovely white tea flavored with lemon peel, lemongrass, lavender, marigold petals, natural and organic flavors it was hard to go wrong with this choice in flavored white teas It was slightly sweet, creamy, floral, and citrusy upfront and lingered nicely, to boot! Because of its low caffeine it makes for a satisfying cup almost any time of day! Bianca from the Read More

Crunch time for loose leaf Japanese green tea

T Ching - Wed, 01/11/2017 - 09:11

Noriyuki Teshima, 33 years old, is a rarity in the world of Japanese green tea. Rather than head to the city for a more cosmopolitan job and way of life, he has stayed true to his roots: tea. The tea farm Noriyuki inherited from his father, while still in his 20’s, belonged to generations of farmers before him.

But as we stand on the hills above the east coast of Kyushu, looking over his tea fields, he describes how his fellow farmers in this region are tearing out their tea trees in order to grow oranges instead, as a means of making enough money to survive, or just letting them go extinct because husbands have died and wives are too old to work the farms, and their children have left for the big city life. The local tea industry is failing.

Noriyuki is in a difficult location: Oita Prefecture. The terroir in Oita is notoriously difficult for growing high-grade green tea. With a few exceptions, such as one of our own Rockstar producers, Kitagawa san, you simply don’t find noticeably delicious tea from there. So, Oita is a tough place to make a go of the tea market to begin with.

Oita is one thing, but what about Yame?

Yame is one of the most famed regions in Japan for producing fantastic Sencha, Kabusecha, Matcha and Gyokuro. It is the Bordeaux or Burgundy of the green tea universe, similar to these famous wine regions because of the luck of the draw: minerals in the soil, “perfect” weather conditions, and other intangibles that make these geographical sweet-spots so mysterious and attractive.

And yet, we are now seeing signs, even here, of tea tree deforestation.

Japan’s green tea market is almost completely domestic. And with massively slowing demand nationwide, the supply side is suffering.

A cultural shift has been taking place over the last decade, where Americanisation manifests in Starbucks coffee cups and the bottled tea sold in every convenience store around the country. Aspects of Japanese culture – fresh green tea most certainly one of them – are shrinking into oblivion.

As tea enthusiasts in the T Ching community, obsessed with flavours and freshness, we talk a lot about umami. Umami is one of those magical, ethereal accents we instantly associate with quality, uniqueness, care and love.

The bottled teas sold in convenience stores noticeably lack umami, or any trace of something special or heartfelt. They are nothing more than a derivative of real tea: synthetic and soulless. And yet they dominate the market. Thanks to clever marketing and effective distribution combining with lifestyle changes, tea in plastic bottles (along with the proliferation of coffee) is making a devastating impact on real, fresh, healthy, delicious loose-leaf tea.

The way forwards

What we saw during the 80’s and 90’s in the West was a coffee revolution, where 65 cent coffee in Styrofoam cups were gradually replaced by a more “premium” offer. Scoffed at to begin with, this cultural sea change gained traction until it became mainstream.

And it went even further than that. Today, we see what might be termed as “hyper” premium coffee offers emerging, positioning Starbucks and Costa as the drab and ordinary coffee that true connoisseurs avoid. Companies such as Blue Bottle Coffee and Ozone Coffee Roasters are taking the nuances and intricacies of coffee to ever-greater heights, and successfully marketing it.

At Chiki Tea, we are dedicated to a similar revolution in the Japanese green tea world. We want to see these sub standard bottled teas replaced by a much better offering: elevating the customer experience through the café environment, making the health benefits available, and showcasing the multi-faceted and delicious flavours of real, fresh, loose leaf green tea.

We are not alone.

We are privileged to be in a position where meeting like-minded activists is becoming easier. As we gain recognition in the loose leaf tea industry, producers are showing a keen interest in the concept of modernizing and repositioning Japanese green tea.

On top of that, there has always been a “subculture” of tea shops up and down the country who are innovating and repackaging green tea into compelling offers, perhaps with less of the Western twist that we provide. Hopefully, we will see an increase in these types of stores as Japanese youth reacquaint themselves with the treasures from their own land.

Also, top ranking, award-winning artisan tea producers around the country are coming together with the aim of turning the situation on its head. They have started by setting up this organization, aiming to bring awareness to the alternative to fake, bottled tea: real, fresh tea from a teapot. Although the language barrier might be an issue for most of us, the video gets the message across nicely so please check it out!

Please also join the conversation. We would love to hear (and share with tea producers here) what people in the West see as barriers to purchasing fresh loose leaf tea from Japan. Is it the language barrier? Lack of distribution channels? Lack of awareness? Price point? Please let us know if you have something to say on the matter.

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The post Crunch time for loose leaf Japanese green tea appeared first on T Ching.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Black Tea Blend from Simpson and Vail. . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 01/11/2017 - 00:00
Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Black Tea Blend from Simpson & Vail Tea is another offering from S&V’s Literary Tea Line. Although I’m not as familiar with this author as I am the other authors on the tea tribute list I was very excited to try this tea. A mighty fine combination of black teas from India, Sri Lanka, China, and Taiwan along side bergamot oil is what Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Black Tea Blend from Simpson & Vail Tea is made of. I LOVE having a blend of 4 different black teas in this base. The bergamot oil is hiding a bit but as Read More

TARDIS Ten – Allonsy! from Tea & Absinthe. . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 01/10/2017 - 20:00
I STILL haven’t gotten into Doctor Who…I know…I know…shame on me! But one day – not too long ago – I was feeling adventurous and decided to jump into TARDIS Ten – Allonsy! from Tea & Absinthe. Why was I being adventurous just by drinking this tea? Because of the banana, of course! Some of you already know my hate-hate relationship with bananas. I want to like them – I do – but thus far it just hasn’t happened! I will say for an ingredient I dread so much this was a mighty fine flavored tea! Ingredients include: black tea, Read More

Art of Tea - Silver Needle, Fukamushi Sencha, and Crimson Oolong

Notes on Tea - Tue, 01/10/2017 - 19:01

Last year Art of Tea celebrated its tenth birthday. Steve Schwartz, the company's founder, began his tea career studying at the Ayurvedic Institute in New Mexico. Based in Los Angeles, the company, writes the L.A. Times, "creates custom teas for the likes of Wolfgang Puck, Vera Wang, Hinoki & the Bird and a host of luxury hotels and restaurants". I became aware of Art of Tea when I was approached about a tea review. The company sent me three generous samples of Silver Needle, Fukamushi Sencha, and Crimson Oolong. The oolong is my favorite! You'll see why from my tasting notes below.

Crimson Oolong
The leaves were small, balled, and dark brown with golden flecks. They smelled fantastic; of cocoa and malt, sweet and floral, as well as something baked. After a cup or two the source of the baked note came to me -- spiced pain aux raisins. I followed the recommended method of 1 tablespoon of leaf steeped in 8 ounces of 206F water for 1-3 minutes. The first infusion of 1 minute was light gold in color and tasted like molten honey. This sweetness was followed by fruity, floral, and woody notes.  The mouthfeel was surprisingly light. The second infusion of 2 minutes was a much darker amber color. The liquid was thicker with darker fruit notes as well as cocoa and wood. The sweetness had deepened and was accompanied by a tartness that lingered in my cheeks. The end note was of pain aux raisins and I tasted this flavor in my throat. The final infusion of 3 minutes was not as thick as the second infusion but the flavors remained robust.

Fukamushi Sencha (Kirishina, Kagoshima)
The tasting notes for this sencha are grassy, pine, and umami. On my first preparation following the recommended method of 1 teaspoon of tea steeped in 8 ounces of 158F water for 30 seconds, the  yield was a thin liquor. The next time I prepared this tea I used 3 ounces of water and a steep time of 40 seconds per Ricardo of My Japanese Green Tea's brewing instructions for fukamushicha. This approach produced a grassy, creamy, and nutty tea with a lively green color and lots of particles by the third steep. This tea was more sweet than umami. I did use water that was hotter than 158F. Also, did you know that fukamushi means deep steamed?

Silver Needle (Fujian)
Again I followed the company's steeping protocol. I steeped 1 tablespoon of tea in 8 ounces of 185F water for 1-3 minutes. The first infusion was light in color and flavor but the second and third (2 and 3 minutes, respectively) were more deeply flavored and fuller bodied. The second infusion was the most aromatic. The official tasting notes are honeysuckle, artichoke, and sage. I know that artichoke is a standard flavor found in silver needle. Maybe what I tasted and smelled was like liquid artichoke hearts if you baked them yourself, not the marinated kind. The herbal note could be likened to drinking the hairs found on an herb like sage.

For me, the highlight of these three teas was the oolong. I had thought my next preferred was the silver needle but then I changed my mind after drinking the sencha that had been steeped in less water. Maybe I will change my mind about these two again if I prepare the silver needle differently. For all these teas, I recommend infusing in less water though the dark oolong (90% oxidized) was most forgiving offering lots of deep flavors even in 8 ounces of water.

Mango Peach from Gypsy Soul Tea . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 01/10/2017 - 16:00
Most fruity herbal tisanes are either too sweet for me, uninteresting when it comes to the flavor combos, and/or incorporate way too much tarty hibiscus for my liking. But I have to give credit where credit it due. Mango Peach from Gypsy Soul Tea – a lovely Etsy Shop – you will have to check out! It was completely up my alley! Ingredients in this fruity herbal include: apple, hibiscus, pineapple, peach, papaya, and lemon peel. The apple and peach seemed to pair up, the pineapple and papaya are no stranger to flavor pairings, and the lemon really added that Read More

Pumpkin Spice Latte Genmaicha from 52Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 01/10/2017 - 12:00
I’ve been on a Smallville Kick lately…binge watching the series on Netflix. I wouldn’t call myself a SUPER FAN of SUPER MAN but after watching this series it occurred to me just how much I remember of the Superman Storyline and Comics from childhood thru adulthood. The classic line “It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s SUPERMAN!!!” comes to mind with this tea and here’s why… It’s a Green Tea…It’s a Genmaicha…it’s Pumpkin Flavored…it’s a Spiced Latte…it’s Read More

Tea and Travel: My First Experience with Mint Tea in Morocco

T Ching - Tue, 01/10/2017 - 09:00

When I was sharing my Morocco itinerary with friends over the last few months, one recommendation was consistently on every list: mint tea at Café Hafa in Tangier. I was already excited to try the supposedly delicious Moroccan mint tea around the country, but I knew this particular location had to be something special if I was told several times not to miss the experience.

I didn’t do any specific research on Hafa, so I really didn’t know what to expect. I was picturing a small cozy café with bright Moroccan rugs and pillows. Maybe a few small tables and tea served on a tray out of an elaborate kettle. Let’s just say that I couldn’t have envisioned it more incorrectly. We walked the ten minutes from our riad (guesthouse) in the kasbah (old fortress) and found a small archway with the name “Café Hafa Fonde 1921.”

It was 6pm on a Friday night and people were pouring in behind us. We made our way slowly down the steps to find groups of Moroccans (mostly men in their twenties and thirties) huddled around tables with plastic chairs drinking mint tea out of tall glasses. The café was outside with terraces down the cliff right on the ocean. Some tables were playing board games while others were playing music. Café Hafa was the place to be on a Friday night in Tangier…it would seem their version of a local bar.

We sat down at a table with a beautiful view of the Atlantic just as the sun dipped down. During the day, you can see Spain across the Strait of Gibraltar. I imagine the café is also quieter and you’d have the opportunity to enjoy the view more fully. It was quite cold on an evening in late December, so we were very excited for some hot tea. There didn’t seem to be a menu, but after a while we realized how it worked.

Men come around with glasses swinging from a multi-cup holder. A far cry from what I imagined. We flagged one older gentleman down and bought two. I took my first sip and winced. Wow, that was sweet. I mean absurdly sweet. It turns out Moroccan tea is made with loose green tea from China, fresh mint, and a generous amount of sugar. One glass was enough for me and although delicious, not what I was looking forward to drinking the rest of the trip.

The next day, I learned that while most Moroccans prefer the tea with lots of sugar, you can order it unsweetened with sugar on the side. It’s now been three days and not a meal goes by without sipping on a pot of the delicious tea with fresh mint. If you find yourself in Tangier, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Café Hafa with its beautiful views to taste the extra-sweet famous mint tea and experience a local favorite.

The post Tea and Travel: My First Experience with Mint Tea in Morocco appeared first on T Ching.

Ginger & Lemon Myrtle from Lupicia. . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 01/10/2017 - 01:45
Ginger & Lemon Myrtle is a Rooibos and Honeybush blend that I was recently blown away by and it’s rare if I’m this excited about a red rooibos based tisane! Perhaps it was because of the honeybush addition. Or maybe it is simply because I’m CRAZY for Lemon Myrtle. The possibility of the gentle ginger had something to do with it, too! The ginger wasn’t overdone. It was more in the background. It was a Read More

Intensely Buttermint from Twinings. . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 01/09/2017 - 20:00
This tea is a personal favorite of mine. I tried a sample sent by a tea friend and when I went to London, I knew I needed more. I actually had to cross a marathon just to get to the Twinings shop and it was 100% worth it. It lives up to the “intensely” in its name, being incredibly flavorful. Though that is not the only way it lives up to its name. This tea Read More

Reading Tea Leaves: A Book Club for Tea Enthusiasts

Tea For Me Please - Mon, 01/09/2017 - 17:00
It's probably no secret by now that I am a major bookworm, especially when it comes to the subject of tea. I've written over fifty reviews on this blog alone. I love sharing my reading experiences here but sometimes that just isn't enough.

Last year I read an article about Emma Watson's feminist book club called Our Shared Shelf. As I followed, I kept thinking about how much the tea world would benefit from something like that. The idea escaped me for a while but then one night I couldn't sleep and it popped back into my head. I tweeted about it and was surprised to find that lots of people expressed interest in participating.

It took some time to get everything rolling but I am happy to announce the start of Reading Tea Leaves. This is my first time running a book club but Good Reads seemed like the easiest platform to make it happen. I couldn't think of a better first book than James Norwood Pratt's The Ultimate Tea Lover's Treasury.

It's the time of year for new year's resolutions. Why not start off on the right foot but diving into a year full of tea filled reads? I'll be adding old favorites as well as selections that are new to me. This book club is meant to be a collaborative, community effort. Please consider joining, participating and commenting. I'll also be looking for moderators to help out with keeping things running smoothly.
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Reading Tea Leaves's currently-reading book mon...
5 members Reading Tea Leaves is a tea focused book club. The books discussed will be primarily non-fiction ...
Books we're currently reading The Ultimate Tea Lover's Treasury
by James Norwood Pratt
Start date: January 9, 2016

View this group on Goodreads »
Share book reviews and ratings with Reading Tea Leaves, and even join a book club on Goodreads.

Ganymede Matcha Tea Blend by MoongleamTeaShoppe

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 01/09/2017 - 16:00
I wasn’t sure how to prepare this tea at first. It’s matcha, so you should be able to just put it in the hot water and shake/whisk it up, right? Well, no, because there are lumps in it as well. The green lumps (I thought they might just be matcha powder caked together that would come apart in the cup) turned out to be bits of citrus peel coated in matcha, which made me realize Read More

Raspberry Zabaglione Black Tea from 52Teas. . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 01/09/2017 - 12:00
Raspberry and black tea go so well together. I usually discover raspberries in tea when I drink iced tea, but I’m very excited to see raspberry present in a hot tea. I also love the combination of raspberry and zabaglione. I’ve never had zabaglione, but it sounds creamy and delicious and destined to be a perfect combination with raspberry. Sipping… ooh, this is a delight! I first taste the black tea base which is smooth Read More
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