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What IS NOT tea?

T Ching - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 13:03

What about all these other “teas”? Confusion about what is a true tea comes from the indiscriminate use of the word “tea.” It seems that any beverage made from hot water and a plant ends up with the appellation “tea.” People say they like mint tea, rooibos tea, yerba mate tea, and others. While these beverages may have healthful properties, they are not products of Camellia sinensis and therefore should not be called ˜tea.”

Tisanes and Herbal Infusions

Often packaged in teabags, and also infused in hot water like tea, herbal infusions are other botanicals. These beverages are made from herbs, grass, barks, fruits, and flowers. Also known as tisanes, popular flavors include mint, lemongrass, cinnamon, chamomile, and hibiscus.

Rooibos (pronounced “roy-boos” or “roy-boss”)

Rooibos, or “red bush,” is produced from Aspalathus linearis a three-foot high
grass-like shrub which grows exclusively in the Cedarburg Mountain range in the nation of South Africa. The needle-like rooibos leaves are cut, bruised, oxidized and sun-dried. When infused, rooibos is reddish beverage with a distinct taste.

Mate (pronounced “ma-tay”)

Yerba mate, known to botanists as Ilex paraguariensis, is a member of the holly
family and grows as a small tree in subtropical South America, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil, and Bolivia. The flat green leaves are plucked and dried. Steeped in hot water in a rounded gourd-like bombilla or canudo, the resulting infusion is sipped through a straw. Taste is similar to some green teas.

This post was written by Susan McKeen and first published on the blog on 26 February 2007

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24 Days of Tea Holiday Countdown – Day 19 from Teanzo 1856

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 11:00

It’s day 19!  We’re getting closer and closer to the finish line here, folks!

For today’s artistic inspiration, I chose another gift that I received as a 12 Days of Christmas mail art swap gift – this time, I chose to feature a gift from artist Shelly Rae Wood.

This is big – about the size of a saucer.  There is a pin back on it, so, I’m guessing the intention was that it be a broach but it’s a bit larger than I would wear as a broach, so instead, I got some “pine needle” garland and wrapped it with that sparkly garland (you know, the kind that most people wrap around their tree?) and I attached this to the center of the garland as a centerpiece of the garland.  I like the overall effect.

For the rest of the garland, I hung small bulb ornaments.  (I don’t like those bulb ornaments for my tree, but, I don’t mind them for the garland.)  I hung the garland up over the living room window.

It seems like there have been quite a few tisanes over the last few days, so I was a little surprised that today’s tea to also be tisane – it’s a good one though so I was happy to have it!

Vanilla Rooibos

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Rooibos

Where to Buy:  Teanzo 1856

Tea Description:

Vanilla is one of the most popular flavors in the world, and we bring this to you in the form of a loose leaf rooibos. It is delicious with or without milk and is naturally caffeine-free. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

The dry leaf has a very strong and natural vanilla scent.  Having tried several vanilla flavored blends and being greeted with a sort of alcohol-ish vanilla aroma (like an inexpensive extract), I was happy to smell this and not pick up on a strong “extract” type of note.

To brew this, I used one of the little DIY tea bags that was included in the Advent Calendar box.  I learned from one of the previous rooibos tisanes from this box that the rooibos from Teanzo is very finely chopped and these DIY tea bags help prevent any stray rooibos leaves from getting into the beverage.  I put the entire contents of the sampler package into the tea bag and put the bag into my favorite mug.  I heat 12 ounces to 195°F and poured the hot water into the mug and let it steep for 10 minutes.


As I’ve said before, I usually prefer it when the flavoring of a rooibos and/or honeybush blend overpowers the natural flavor of the leaf, because I’m not all that crazy about the flavor of rooibos.  And even though this has not been overpoweringly flavored, I like the way the vanilla notes complement the natural nutty and woodsy flavors of the rooibos.  It’s a very pleasant flavor combination.

That’s especially true because what I’m tasting now is a true vanilla flavor.  It doesn’t taste artificial.  It tastes as though this was flavored with either a very high quality flavoring oil or it was flavored with vanilla beans.

Either way, I really appreciate the flavor here.  It’s not an overpowering vanilla flavor, but it’s sweet, it’s creamy, and the natural nutty flavors of the rooibos work very well with the vanilla.  This would be a great “late night” snack.  Low in calories and fat – but high in indulgent flavor.

Tea Review - The Republic of Tea

The Tea Horse Road - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 08:00

In the next three posts we will be reviewing teas from The Republic of Tea.The following teas were sent by and courtesy of  Mr Michael Salvo, of The Republic of Tea.The tea are of Pumpkin Spice, British Breakfast and Peppermint Bark.

The Pumpkin Spice and Peppermint Bark are scented teas, while the British Breakfast is a blend of black teas.These are teabags that are packed in brightly labeled and airtight tin cans.Each can comes with suggestions for brewing with regards to time and temperature and the leeway of personal preferences. According to the label only sustainable derived ingredients are utilized. There is also a Caffeine Content indicator on the label.

Peppermint Bark comes in 1.65 oz can that contain 36 teabags. This is a blend of organic ingredients - green Rooibos, Peppermint, Cocoa extract, Stevia leaf, vanilla flavors and natural flavor. This is a Kosher certified tea, with the USDA Organic and Certified Organic Quality Assurance International stamp of approval.It also carries the stamp of approvals for Gluten Free, Rainforest Alliance Certified for Rooibos and NON  GMO Project verification.
Pumpkin Spice is a blend  of black tea, ginger, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, Sweet Blackberry leaves and Pumpkin flavors. The can contains 50 teabags with a total weight of 2.8 oz. This is a Gluten Free certified tea blend.
British Breakfast blends black teas from Assam, Ceylon, Darjeeling and Africa.Contains 50 teabags in a can of 2.8oz.Kosher Certified, Gluten Free and NON  GMO Project verified.
We will be doing a taste tests for each of these teas.

Mint-Chilla Chai-Nilla Tea from The Spice and Tea Exchange

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 23:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy:  The Spice and Tea Exchange

Tea Description:

A pu-erh chai tea with creamy vanilla, bright peppermint, and a touch of cinnamon. A rich smooth tea that adds a refreshing minty twist to the traditional chai tea flavors. Contains: organic green pu-erh tea, organic peppermint, organic cinnamon, organic vanilla bean, organic licorice root.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This is an enjoyable pu-erh blend but I don’t know if I’d call it a “chai.”  The only ingredient in this blend that is common in a masala chai blend is cinnamon.  There is no ginger, no clove, no cardamom … none of the other “usual” ingredients in this “chai.”

Oh, sure, there’s licorice root and I’m enjoying the sassy flavor that it adds to the cup, but licorice root is not a common ingredient in a chai blend.

But whether or not I’d consider it a chai, it is a tasty blend.

To brew it, I used my Kati tumbler and heated the water to 190°F.  I added a heaping bamboo scoop of loose leaf tea to the basket of the tumbler and then I added 12 ounces of heated water.  I waited for 15 seconds and then drained off the liquid, discarding it (the rinse).  Then I filled the tumbler again with another 12 ounces of heated water and steeped it for 3 minutes.

The pu-erh base is earthy and smooth.  No bitterness or astringency to speak of.  Just smooth, mellow flavor.  The earthiness is complemented by the cinnamon and licorice root.  The peppermint adds a burst of fresh flavor while the vanilla adds a hint of creaminess.  (No need for dairy to make this a latte!  It’s a little bit like a latte without the addition.)

An enjoyable tea that tastes just like the holidays!  A great tea for this time of year!

Aiya Tea Matcha to Go Stick-Packs

Tea For Me Please - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 17:00
Country of Origin: Japan Leaf Appearance: deep green, powdered Ingredients: matcha green tea, soluble corn fiber Steep time: n/a Water Temperature: cold Preparation Method: waterbottle Liquor: deep green I really love matcha but it can be hard to make on the go. When I'm at work, my prep area is virtually non-existent so ease of use is a must. That's why I was so happy when +Aiya America Nicole Martinhttps://plus.google.com/103097147251455801975noreply@blogger.com0

Tea/vanilla/lobster, a trio of deliciousness

T Ching - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 13:03

When this festive time of year rolls around, it’s time to pull out all the stops to create a symphony of tastes on the plate. Look no further: here is the winning combination– fragrant vanilla bean and luxurious lobster united by good black tea (my pick is Yunnan Gold for which there are many online and bricks and mortar sources). As a sumptuous main dish on a sparkling holiday buffet, this melding of the crustacean’s richness underpinned by the round mellow taste of vanilla is given a slightly smoky and peppery dimension by the brewed tea. After you have procured the best ingredients, the cooking technique is simple.

A bit about the tea: Grown in southwest China, thought to be the birthplace of tea itself, the Yunnan (AKA Dianhong) I use here is marked by an abundance of soft golden tips, yielding a gentle earthy aroma and taste. It blends well with the marine salinity of the lobster and is complexed by the flowery notes in the vanilla, becoming a kind of grace note in the sauce for the lobster.

Here’s how to do it:

Use one 1-1/2 lb live lobster per person and increase the amounts of the ingredients in direct proportion

Brew 1 quart of Yunnan, using 2-3 grams per cup of good quality water brought to the boil and allow to steep for 3-5 minutes (taste during that time to check on the intensity of the brew and then decant, carefully sieving out the tea leaves)

1 large soft, flexible Tahitian vanilla bean (these beans are thick and highly fragrant)

1 c. heavy cream

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Using a small sharp knife, cut the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the fragrant vanilla bean seeds into a quart sized pot or saucepan. Add the brewed tea from above and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the liquid is infused with the flavor of vanilla. Pass the mixture through a fine meshed sieve. Return it to a heavy saucepan and add the heavy cream. Boil vigorously to reduce to coating consistency. Be careful not to burn the mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste, cover the pot tightly and set aside, keeping warm while you cook the lobster as follows. (Do taste the liquid at this point as the lobster imparts some saltiness. Don’t oversalt).

Fill a large pot with water and bring to the boil, allowing 3 quarts of water per 1-1/2 to 2 pounds of lobster. Add sea salt (to taste) to the water. Bring the water to a rolling boil. Add the live lobsters one at a time, and start timing immediately. Do not cover. Allow to cook just under the boil for 11 to 12 minutes. Remove from the heat allow the lobster(s) to stand in the hot water for 5 minutes so that the meat reabsorbs the juices inside the shell. Using tongs, retrieve the lobster(s) from the pot. Using lobster crackers and tongs, remove the lobster meat from its shell (the claws and tail are the most meaty parts, although the walking legs have a bit of meat in them).

Serve the lobster immediately with a sauceboat of the tea and vanilla sauce. You might switch continents of origin and serve this with a nutty brown basmati rice, steamed to perfection.

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24 Days of Tea Holiday Countdown – Day 18 from Teanzo 1856

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 11:00

It’s Day 18!

Last week, I had a dreadful cold.  I’m still in the process of “getting over it,” not really sick anymore, but still coughing up a lot of that congestion that’s trapped in the lungs.  Not fun.

As I confessed in the review below, I actually “drank ahead” with this advent calendar.  And after going through that horrible cold, I’m glad I did, because otherwise there would have been several days without reviews being posted!  I was just too sick to be reviewing teas and my taste buds were not operating at optimum levels.

I’m glad to be feeling better and I hope that everyone else out there is feeling fine – it’s a bad time to be caught feeling under the weather!

For today’s artistic inspiration, I chose this cute little mini clipboard that was altered with a Christmas theme.  It was created by Liane Ceglar for one of the 12 Days of Christmas swaps I was in.  (The photo isn’t great, but, it’s still such a wonderful little gift that I wanted to feature it!)

It’s another of those gifts that may not have been intended to be an ornament, but, I turned it into one.  I love it and it looks great on my tree of altered art!  Thank you Liane!


Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Herbal

Where to Buy:  Teanzo 1856

Tea Description:

Hibiscus flowers are high in vitamin C, and recent studies suggest that hibiscus supports cardiovascular health.  Hibiscus tea has been consumed for centuries for its health benefits.   This herbal tea is delicious and steeps to a gorgeous pink color.  The tart flavor of hibiscus is balanced by adding a sweetener.  Perfect for entertaining.  Garnish this herbal tea with a sprig of fresh mint.  This herbal tea is caffeine free.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

OK, so I admit it.  I checked to see what the teas are in this Advent Calendar ahead of time.  I kind of have to so that I can write the review in enough time to publish on the day that they correspond with the calendar.  Yeah, I guess I’m cheating, but hey, I’ve rationalized my behavior because I’m doing it for you, my readers.

And when I saw that 100% pure, not-part-of-a-blend hibiscus was one of the tisanes in this box, I think I may have screamed out loud.  And not a happy, excited scream.  More like a mortified scream of horror.

Since that time, a few things have happened.  First, I started plotting.  Hmm … what if I just don’t post anything for the 18th day?  Maybe say there was some glitch in the system and the review was lost forevermore.  No.  I’m sure that someone who knows more about computers than I do (they wouldn’t be hard to find) would challenge this claim.  What if I just refuse?  I could just protest.  NO HIBISCUS!

Then, something else happened:  I got sick.  I came down with a terrible cold.  And even though hibiscus isn’t my favorite thing, I do know that it’s loaded with Vitamin C and every time I consume something with lots of vitamin C while I’m sick, well, I feel better for a while.

So, I thought, hey, maybe it will work with the hibiscus.  What have I got to lose?  I mean, it won’t kill me to drink a cup of hibiscus, will it?

Well, it might.  I mean, I could be deathly allergic to pure hibiscus and I might die if I drink this stuff.  But, I’m thinking I’m not deathly allergic to hibiscus since I’ve had quite a few tisanes with hibiscus in it.  And confession time:  I’ve never actually had a cup of pure hibiscus tisane.  Yep.  It’s true.

So, I figured, it’s time to try this stuff that I’ve been cursing for so many years.

To steep the hibiscus, I used my Kati Tumbler (again!) and poured the contents of packet number 18 into the basket.  I heated the water to 195°F and let it steep for 4 minutes.  Usually, I’ll let a tisane steep for 5 – 10 minutes, but since this is pure hibiscus, I decided to go conservative and only steep for 4 minutes.

Of course, I didn’t think to actually try this when my taste buds were kind of out of whack because of my cold.  That would have been THE time to try this, right?  But, I didn’t think about it then.  Now, I’m still dealing with a sore throat (actually, it’s more of a dry, irritated throat from coughing) and a weakened immune system and a tired and achy body, but my taste buds are in working order.

How do I know?

Tart!  Yeah.  I even added a teaspoon of raw sugar to this and yep, still tart.  The sugar did tame the tartness down a bit though.  I found that it’s also a lot more tart when it’s hot than as it cools.  It becomes more “berry-like” when it starts to cool down and there are some fruity notes that are actually quite agreeable!

So, as it turns out, I’m not deathly allergic of hibiscus, I’m just more afraid of it than anything.  It’s not that horrible.  It has a nice berry taste and it does have health benefits.  I do recommend keeping the steep time to a minimum because even at 4 minutes, some texture does develop here (the longer you steep hibiscus, the more syrupy the liquid becomes).  I think 4 minutes is as far as I’d go, and you still are getting a really strong, hibiscus-y flavor (it is, after all, hibiscus).

While hibiscus will never be a favorite drink of mine, it isn’t a horrible drink.  I’ve tasted teas and tisanes that I’ve liked a lot less.  If I had other options, I wouldn’t choose to drink another pure hibiscus drink.  I certainly would not buy pure hibiscus.  That said, it wasn’t as horrible an experience as I thought it would be when I saw the word “HIBISCUS” on the label of the pouch marked 18 in this advent calendar from Teanzo.

The hibiscus does have some redeeming qualities.  First of all, it did soothe my sore throat and I found that it did help me feel better after I drank it.  (Remember, I’m dealing with a cold here!)   So, it’s not all bad.  And I know that there are some people who swear by this stuff.  I bet kids would love it – most kids love the tart stuff – and it would be much better for them than some sugary soda or punch drink.

Teacups - Winter and Summer

The Tea Horse Road - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 08:00
Chinese teacups are traditionally made of porcelain and they are smaller than the European style  that was known as tea dishes. The European style teacups were an adaptation of the English posset cup that was used to serve heated milk, spirits, wines, sugar and spices. These posset cups had handles on both sides of the bowl. 
When tea drinking was introduced into Europe most tea ware used in the European household were from China. and Japan. The teacups were small and handleless.These cups or tea dishes were used until the 19th century when they were gradually adapted and designed with handles.
Chinese teacups are meant to be cradled/cupped in the hands transfering beverage's warmth.These cups hold between 2 -3 sips of tea.They varied in size and shape according to the season.
Winter cups were uncurved at the lip.They were rounded, deeper bowl and larger.
The summer teacups have a curved lip so as to have the tea cool faster in comparison to the winter cup for heat reservation.The summer cups are smaller.

The porcelain walls of the cups are thicker to contain the heat.

Chinese Dou Li Chinese tea bowl. Styled on the Chinese and south east Asian bamboo hats popular throughout rural areas worn by farmers and fishermen.
A summer style of teacup having a larger diameter for heat diffusion.

The decorations of on the porcelain were of motifs from nature usually depicting the four seasons or emblems that were culturally significant.

Ball & Chain Oolong Tea from Indie Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 23:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Tea Information:

This is a fantastic flavoured oolong. A rare find. There’s a natural sweetness from the Se Chung oolong that is enhanced by the infusion of the sweet medjool dates. There’s a cool roasted, nutty flavour present in the oolong and a faint stone fruit nuance. Love it.

This tea is available from Amoda Tea.

Learn more about subscribing to Amoda Tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Amoda Tea is back, baby!

Amoda Tea disappeared for a while to revamp their business.  Last month, they announced that they’d be back with subscriptions again, and I was overjoyed!  I loved receiving their box every month!

Their new (and improved) monthly subscription includes:

  • small (3 cup) size samples of 4 different teas
  • DIY loose leaf tea bags
  • “tasting notes” of the teas included in the box
  • A “visual Stellar” story link that allows you to listen while you sip
  • A treat from Sweet Petite Confectioner:  a chai infused marshmallow!

I love the 3 cups of 4 teas format.  I like the idea of the stellar story, but I took a few minutes to listen to some of the tracks and not my thing.  I’m more of a Guns N’ Roses tea sipper and I’m not so much into the indie stuff.  But hey, different strokes, right?

This month’s box: 4 teas (this is the perfect size for this tea taster!) a “scroll” of DIY tea bags, a marshmallow, and tasting notes!

Last but certainly not least:  I love that I have a chai infused marshmallow sitting in front of me, taunting me to eat it.  Should I eat it now?  Should I wait until my sweet tooth is beckoning?  (Right now my sweet tooth has been satiated as I already had a chocolate-y dessert treat a little while ago.)

Since I think I’ll wait until the sweet tooth demands me to eat it, I’ll move on to the review…

I have already sampled and reviewed this tea, but it was a while ago (a year and a half ago!) since I tried it and since it’s part of this month’s Amoda Tea box, I thought it’d be fun to revisit it.

This is still as tasty as I remember it being.  I like the way the dates are represented here:  I get a good, solid date flavor.  Sweet, almost caramel-like in flavor.  I get that sugar-y sweetness of the date.

If you’re one who generally sweetens your tea before you taste it, I’d recommend not doing that with this tea.  Taste it first.  The sweetness from the dates is really a strong sweetness and you might find that this is just right, the way that it is.

The Se Chung Oolong is an ideal choice for the base of this tea because it’s roasty-toasty, slightly smoky character melds very nicely with that sweet, caramel-y date flavor.

I enjoyed this both hot and cold.  After I brewed it and drank about half the cup, I was side-tracked and got busy doing something else and when I returned to my cup of tea, it was cold.  But this is delightful served either hot or cold – and I’d have a hard time saying which I prefer!  That’s kind of a rare thing for me when it comes to Oolong teas, because usually, I want my Oolong tea hot!  But, this is delicious either way.

I’m really glad that this tea was in this month’s box because it’s been a while since I’ve had this one and it’s really tasty.  I’m happy I got to revisit it!

I have to be honest here and say that when I subscribed to this box, I was hoping that maybe this month’s box would be this Holiday Tasting Box, but I guess you have to order that separately.  Oh, well.  I’m still really happy with this box and I’m thrilled that Amoda Tea is back with subscription boxes.

What I’ve always loved about the subscription box from Amoda Tea is that it’s like getting a gift every month.  The mailbox is always jammed full of stuff we don’t want:  junk mail, bills, etc.  It’s nice to get something fun every month and really, what’s more fun than tea?

And I feel like the box is even more fun now than it once was with the addition of the thoughtful inclusions.  Even though the visual/musical story at Stellar wasn’t exactly my thing, I appreciate that they put something together to make this an all encompassing experience.  I also LOVE that there’s a sweet treat in this box!  I don’t know that there will be in every box, but I like that I got something a little special.  It’s stuff like this that make these monthly boxes so much fun.

Really, really aged tea

Gongfu Girl - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 19:25

The role played by tea in the formation of an independent United States is a familiar one, but one aspect of this history that I had never considered before was the possibility that some of the actual tea offloaded in protest into Boston Harbor might be preserved in the archival collections of historians and collectors. Knowing that tea casks, related documents, and other Boston Tea Party artifacts were still in existence, I shouldn’t have been surprised that there is actual tea, but it’s interesting to think about what that tea would be like after contact with salt water, political foment, rough handling, and after so much time. If I did not know about teas aged intentionally, I might assume that the leaves would have organically degraded into dust, like a tomato or a leaf of lettuce. But after a friend brought an article on this very topic to my attention I did a little exploring, and found that there are quite a few samples of this tea, tucked into vials, bottles, little glass caskets, and in display cases in various locations throughout the country.

Sometimes the most unassuming objects can take on powerful meaning. A small, sealed glass bottle of tea, displayed at the American Antiquarian Society, is a case in point. Donated in 1840 by the Reverend Thaddeus M. Harris (1768-1842), a Unitarian clergyman in Dorchester, Massachusetts, and a member of AAS, the tea is one of the most compelling objects for visitors touring the library. Less than five inches high, the mold-blown, pale aqua bottle filled with tea leaves is wrapped at its mouth with twill tape and sealed with red sealing wax. Its attached paper label reads: “Tea Thrown into Boston Harbor Dec. 16, 1773.”

Read the rest of the article, “An Old Vial of Tea with a Priceless Story: The Destruction of the Tea, December 16, 1773.”

A little additional historical background, from the article, “Tea leaves in glass bottle collected on the shore of Dorchester Neck the morning of 17 December 1773“:

Tea Act of 1773
The seeds of the Boston Tea Party were sown in the spring of 1773, when Parliament passed the Tea Act of 1773 in an attempt to prevent the East India Company from going bankrupt. This act authorized the company to sell a half million pounds of tea directly to the colonies, without paying the usual duties and tariffs. This meant that the East India Company could undersell anyone, including smugglers, whose tea colonists had been drinking almost exclusively since the passage of the Townshend Acts that placed taxes on everyday items like glass, paper, and tea in 1767 (all the Townshend Acts except that on tea had been repealed in 1770). Parliament reasoned that if the colonists could buy East India Company tea more cheaply than any other, they would begin drinking it again, thus saving the company. Instead, the act revived the colonists’ old argument about taxation without representation and led to the events of 16 December.

What if it were possible to actually brew and drink some of this historically weighty tea? Would you do it? Would it be a disrespectful act of self-indulgence, like wanting to roast and consume a woolly mammoth that has been frozen for centuries?

Note: the accompanying photo is not the actual artifact from the Boston Tea Party (but you can view a photograph of one here). I did not have usage rights for the photo used in the article quoted, so I used a different photo.

Possibly Related Posts:

Sense Asia All of Vietnam in One Box

Tea For Me Please - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 17:00
It's usually my policy to never write about something here without trying it myself first. In this case I'm making an exception because this is a truly extraordinary collection of teas. Sense Asia has put together 32 different teas, all from Vietnam. I was immediately struck by their unique approach. Included with the collection is a book containing profiles of Vietnamese people from all walks Nicole Martinhttps://plus.google.com/103097147251455801975noreply@blogger.com0

How oolong got its name

T Ching - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 13:03

The old man sipped his tea. He had never grown weary of that flavor. His father had picked Oolong tea, as had his father’s father and grandfather. And his young grandsons would also one day pick tea just like his daughter did now. It all made sense in a comfortable kind of way. He was proud to be a farmer of Oolong tea, and took pride in the fact that it was the best tea in all the Kingdoms. Even the great emperor, Lord of Heaven and Earth, was said to prefer the taste of Oolong above all else. The old man nodded, agreeing with his own thoughts. He drained his cup and watched his two grandsons sprint across the yard towards the house, the dying sun infusing the sky behind them in the same sweet amber liquor he’d just finished.

The village boys were only clean right after a bath, and even then but briefly. The old grandpa didn’t mind having them on his lap though. He loved the boys, as his grandpa had once loved him when he came home dirty and ruffled by a day of adventure. He too had once sat on his grandfather’s bony lap and listened to stories. He smiled now at his own bony knees. It was a smile of contention. He was a part of something longer and greater than himself. His reminiscence of his family’s legacy in tea put him in the mood to share it with the boys. He poured them each a cup of tea and laughed at the awkward way they held the cup, smelling the liquor as he had once taught them. He ruffled little Chang’s hair. “Do you know what makes Oolong tea so special?” his bushy white brow flared in askance.

“I do,” Said the older Chen, not waiting for recognition, “Its because of the shaking.”

“That’s good Chen,” he sighed patiently. He poured them each another cup. “Let me tell you about the origin of Oolong tea.” The boys ignored the tea and stared at him with rapt, glimmering eyes. Grandpa’s stories were the highlight of their evenings…

“Long, Long ago people here picked tea just the way they do now. And they fried, shaped and fermented it just the same too. But they didn’t know how to shake it the way we do. Oolong tea wasn’t the great treasure it is today, and the farmers had a hard time selling it.” He looked at the children in mock-seriousness, “And the children had to work all day instead of playing by the river.” The older one moaned and the younger Chang gasped in disbelief. “At that time there was one farmer named Wu Long Wang. He actually liked hunting much more than picking tea. He was young and loved to daydream, and rarely brought home his quota of leaves. And that was why he was nicknamed ‘Wu Long’ or ‘Black Dragon’, because he always took so long to gather his leaves that he was tanned dark by the sun. His family was always complaining. No one thought any good would ever come of him. He did occasionally redeem himself, though, by bringing home a good catch to share for dinner. Wu Long Wang took his bow with him everywhere. He wasn’t any good at picking tea or farming, but he sure was a great shot with that bow. In fact, the village’s annual archery contest was the only time everyone liked Wu Long Wang. The rest of the year he was a just a lazy dolt.” He paused to remind Chen of the virtues of hard work.

“One day Wu Long Wang’s father told him that he had better bring back a whole basket of tea leaves or he’d break his bow over his head. Wu Long Wang worked hard all morning and afternoon and filled his basket with the best leaves he could find. Just as he was about to sit down and be lazy, he saw the biggest, plumpest rabbit he’d ever seen. It noticed him and darted away. Wu Long Wang sprinted after the rabbit, without even thinking of setting down the basket of tea on his back. Half of the leaves flew out behind him in a trail, but he didn’t stop. He had to have that rabbit.” The old man paused dramatically to let the boys imagine the chase. “Finally after an hour or two, the rabbit grew tired and Wu Long Wang used his bow to shoot it. He was so proud he didn’t even stop to rest, but skipped merrily back to the village. He showed his father the rabbit, but his father had eyes only for the half empty basket of tea. He grabbed Wu Long Wang’s bow and” the old man mimicked breaking the bow over Chen’s head and both the boys laughed. “Wu Long Wang went to bed with no dinner. He was very sad. For two days and nights, his father refused to speak to him. On the third morning, the village elders were all waiting for Wu Long Wang when he woke up. He thought he was in big trouble for sure. To his great surprise they all shook his hand, congratulating him and asking him if he had slept well. He looked at them confused.

‘Wu Long Wang’ they said, ‘the tea you picked two days ago was the best tea we have ever had. All of the elders in the village have tasted it and agree that it is heavenly. You must show us where you picked it.’ Wu Long Wang showed them where he’d found the tea, but they had picked that tea before. They asked him to tell them exactly what had happened that day.” The old man set Chang on the ground next to his brother and leaned in, “and do you know what they found out?”

“I do, I do” said Chen excitedly, “All the running had shaken up the tea leaves and that’s why they tasted so good.”

“Clever boy” he patted Chen’s head. “And from then on, we have always shook the tea. The village elders were so happy with Wu Long Wang that they named the new tea ‘Oolong’ after him. He was allowed to hunt and daydream for the rest of his days, as he pleased.” He looked at the boys and asked, “Do you know the moral of the story?”

“Yes grandpa, I remember,” replied little Chang, “daydream a lot, but don’t forget to jump at the rabbit when it comes.”

This post was written by Wu Diddly for Global Tea Hut, published in December 2012. Images courtesy of Global Tea Hut.

The post How oolong got its name appeared first on T Ching.

24 Days of Tea Holiday Countdown – Day 17 from Teanzo 1856

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 11:00

Day 17!  How many of you have finished your shopping?

Me either.

Today’s artwork comes from Jeri Aaron from the last 12 Days of Christmas Art Swap I was in (I think it was from 2012).  She “stuffed” a holiday mitten with a Santa Stuffy.  I think it was originally created to be a broach or something like that because there’s a pin back on it, but, it’s kind of big for a broach.  (At least for me.)  But, I really liked it and so I decided to make it a wall ornament for the holidays.  I hang it along with the stockings to add a little bit of color to the place where the stockings are ‘hung with care.’  (We don’t hang our stockings by the fireplace.  We hang our stockings on the wall next to the front door in the living room.)

Anyway, this was a fun little gift to receive.  It seems like with these exchanges, most of the people are focused on making tree ornaments (myself included!) so, it’s nice to get something just a little different and unexpected like this.  It’s a fun gift.

Today’s tea was also quite fun and festive!

Cranberry Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Teanzo 1856

Tea Description:

Delicious black tea with cranberries is a holiday delight.  Cranberry Tea makes a wonderful gift for a holiday host or a great stocking stuffer.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

The appearance of the dry leaf is really pretty, lots of little red safflower petals and a couple of big chunks of freeze-dried cranberries.  The aroma of the dry leaf is black tea with a berry note.

I brewed this the same way I’ve brewed most of the teas in this wonderful Advent Calendar from Teanzo, in my Kati Tumbler.  I poured the contents of the sampler pouch into the basket of the tumbler and added 12 ounces of boiling water.  I let it steep for 3 minutes.

The brewed tea has a sweet smell with notes of berry and black tea.  I let the tea cool for a few minutes – a few minutes cool time is really essential to getting those flavors to pop!

Tasty!  The sip starts out surprisingly sweet:  sweeter than I expected since this is a cranberry tea and cranberries are usually quite tart.  But as the sip progresses, some of those tart notes come forward to contrast with that sweet start.  It’s almost a jammy start.  It’s sweet and quite pleasant.

The mid-sip is where I notice most of the tartness of the berry, but the sweet notes in this tea help to soften the tartness so I’m not experiencing a pucker with this tea.  I also get just a hint of berry tingle in the aftertaste.

The black tea base is smooth.  No bitterness nor is there a strong astringent tone to the finish.  Some astringency, not a lot.  The black tea seems to complement the cranberry well.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable tea and I’m glad that it was included in the Advent Calendar!

Reading Nook Tea Blend from Plum Deluxe

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 23:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Plum Deluxe

Tea Description:

The reading nook blend is our signature organic tea created for enjoying while perfecting some of our dearest passions: reading, writing, and enjoying conversation with friends.

One needs a touch of caffeine to keep the conversation flowing, the pages turning, or the pen on the move, so we start this blend with a wonderful cream black tea. We then added rosebuds for creativity and sustenance, passionflower and lavender for flavor and aroma, and top it off with a bit of chamomile which adds a calming balance to it all. Customers often tell us this is our prettiest tea!

All Plum Deluxe teas are hand-blended and infused with love in Portland, Oregon.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Oh wow!  This tea has a delightful aroma!  I can smell the floral notes – the passionflower, the lavender and the rose … along with hints of chamomile – and these beautifully fragrant flowers mingle with the notes of vanilla cream and it’s intoxicating!   I imagine that this amazing scent would be the perfect accompaniment while reading a favorite book, a fantastical fragrance along with the fantasy of literature.

On the Plum Deluxe webpage for this tea, there are little snippets of customer responses about the tea.  One that stood out to me was this:

A black tea with an herbal taste. Very cleansing aftertaste.

I think that this really describes the flavor of this tea quite well.  I probably would only edit this comment to add the word “floral” behind the word “herbal” because I think that these two descriptive words better clarify what I’m tasting.  It’s a black tea and the black tea base is mellow – I suspect it’s a Ceylon – and the herbaceous tones and floral notes come through as the strongest, most forward flavors, but without completely overwhelming the flavor of the black tea.

Now, usually, I’m in full support of a tea tasting more like tea and less like it’s additives.  However, in the case of this blend, I think that I rather like the way the floral notes dance upon the palate.  I like that the black tea is more of a supportive background ‘voice’ that allows these flowery tastes to take on the lead of this tasty symphony of flavors.

It’s really quite dreamy – the flavor of this cuppa!

And what makes it so dreamy is not the floral notes or the black tea – but the cream notes.  The cream is not a dominant or aggressive flavor in this cup of tea, but it seems to be the stage that brings everything together so harmoniously.

When it comes to brewing this tea, I recommend using a slightly lower temperature.  I think that the floral notes are better expressed when the water is just below boiling (I used water heated to 200°F).  After giving the pouch a shake to redistribute the ingredients, I measured a heaping bamboo scoop into the basket of my Kati Tumbler and added the water and let it steep for 3 minutes.  Perfection!

Tea Review: Golden Tips Tea Darjeelings

Notes on Tea - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 18:21

I drank a flush of Darjeelings a couple of weeks ago, the teas provided by Golden Tips Tea. There were five teas in total - (1) Giddapahar Muscatel, (2) Thurbo Moonlight Darjeeling, (3) Goomtee Darjeeling, (4) Arya Ruby Darjeeling, and (5) Castleton Moonlight. All are second flush/summer teas with the exception of the Castleton Moonlight which is a first flush/spring tea. All the dried leaves exuded an herbal, musty aroma.

The Giddapahar is my favorite of the flushes with lots of classic Darjeeling flavors and aromas.

The Thurbo Moonlight was harvested three days later than the Giddapahar on a different estate. The liquor was weakly flavored. All the teas were prepared in a tasting cup using one teaspoon of dried leaves and steeped in boiling water for three minutes.

The Goomtee was malty with slightly astringent notes. Look at the rich color of the liquor.

The steeped leaves of the Arya Ruby were dark but the flavor was surprisingly faint.

Milder in flavor than the Giddapahar and the Goomtee, the Castleton Moonlight had predominantly floral notes. Note the green color of the dried and steeped (see below) leaves as well as the yellow gold color of the liquor.

I recommend the Giddapahar! The Goomtee is also a good choice followed by the Castleton.

Thank you to Golden Tips Tea for the generous package of Darjeelings and other teas.

Hankook Tea Teuksun Green Tea

Tea For Me Please - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 17:00
Country of Origin: South Korea Leaf Appearance: small, deep green Ingredients: green tea Steep time: 3 minutes Water Temperature: 180 degrees Preparation Method: kyusu Liquor: pale green Korean teas are fairly new to me but I've been enjoying them very much lately thanks to +HANKOOK TEA. This one hails from the Honam Tea Estate in South Korea. I thought it was interesting because it is a blendNicole Martinhttps://plus.google.com/103097147251455801975noreply@blogger.com0

tea in a coffee world

T Ching - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 13:03

For me, the Thanksgiving holiday included an incredible day of driving along the Coast Highway in Southern California from Oceanside and down through the little towns that hug the Pacific Ocean at some of its’ most beautiful coastline like Carlsbad, Cardiff, Leucadia, Encinitas, Solana Beach, Del Mar and La Jolla.  Where retail shops almost meet sand, there is a line-up of eateries and ‘drinkaries’ for miles.

Driving along that strip, it seemed every few blocks I saw the coffee signs with various creative names on each shop. Everyone was packed inside and out onto the patio, where it was almost 80F and absolutely perfect sunshiny weather.

Nowhere did I see a sign that highlighted TEA..

I’m assuming that in each of these places, espresso shots and specialty drinks were a good part of the orders, made by electrical machines.  I’m also assuming that most had modern coffee brewing equipment including grinders and brewers, with pour-overs taking a minor role, if any.  Could this explain why we see few to no ‘tea’ signs as we drive along this hip, current, trendy area?  At our first store with partners, pre-technology, it was common to hear ‘how much longer until my drink is ready?”

Coffee drinkers don’t seem to scorn technology, they ‘drink it up’, so to speak.  Hardcore coffee fanatics are willing to try anything that might make their beloved bean even better, or get it to them quicker.   They don’t seem afraid the coffee or coffee culture will be ‘contaminated’ if technology is involved as long as it tastes good.

One thing people do want with coffee is fast.  Whether they plan to nurse one cup for five hours at a laptop or sit outside on a patio until they may be finally asked to leave, or order something else – when they place that order, they want it now.  Is this what has kept tea from bursting forth onto the American retail scene?  Even in major tea consuming countries like China and India, coffee has made a huge impact in a relatively short amount of time from its retail café concept ‘to go’ introduction.

Having worked tea retailing as almost an educational experience, learning everything we could by watching, asking, and listening to consumers for about half a decade in our own suburban shop until 2013, we have ideas on the subject.  We offered both tea and coffee and one thing is for sure…there is a difference between the coffee-centric and tea-centric consumer.

On brewing itself, neither consumer cared about the ‘how’ of brewing.  Our tea customers never asked us to be sure and brew the tea traditionally.  They weren’t insulted that we were testing /developing a technology (and could never tell them how it worked) that brewed in one minute.  All they cared about was the result.  More health conscious than coffee drinkers, tea consumers tend to be more interested in the subject of tea than the average coffee drinker is in the subject of coffee and they tended to buy loose tea for home brewing more than the coffee customer did beans – even though we had award-winning coffee in our area ‘hotlists’.

As an entrepreneur, the possibilities that exist in the specialty tea retailing and brewing technology areas still excite me…and apparently also excite Howard Schultz, founder of Starbucks, who was quoted in a magazine article: “Globally, tea is a larger opportunity than coffee.  It’s ripe for innovation.”

Tea brewing hasn’t changed for thousands of years and tea retailing is still in its’ infancy…put those two together and fireworks go off for me. I truly hope we will get the chance to partner with someone who has the vision and means to make our dream a reality because…we are ready.

MAIN:             IMAGE 1:             IMAGE 2:

The post tea in a coffee world appeared first on T Ching.

24 Days of Tea Holiday Countdown – Day 16 from Teanzo 1856

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 11:00

It’s Day 16 of this Advent Calendar/Holiday Countdown with Teanzo 1856.  There are eight days left to shop!  Every year, I tell myself that I’ll start my shopping early, but every year, I end up waiting until the last minute.  (Sigh!)

For today’s artistic inspiration, I am turning to another piece that I received in a 12 Days of Christmas mail art swap.  The artist I’m featuring today is Gwynn Thoma, and she made this beautiful rustic heart ornament for my tree.

This is another one of those ornaments that’s just FUN to discover every year when I start “unwrapping” all my ornaments for the tree.  It’s so cute and there are so many neat little details about it that I seem to keep finding something new about it every year.  I also like the bit of rustic whimsy it adds to my tree.

Another thing that really stood out to me about this particular ornament was the packaging.  Gwynn stitched together little “envelopes out of Kraft paper and adorned them with bits of aged sheet music and a swatch of the burlap that she used to create the heart ornament.  It’s a very clever and lovely package and I love how it “matches” the gift that was tucked inside.

I hope that you guys are enjoying my art “roundup” as well as the countdown to Christmas with teas from Teanzo this year!

Seasonal Relief Herbal Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Tulsi

Where to Buy:  Teanzo 1856

Tea Description:

In India, licorice root is used to soothe sore throats, and the tulsi plant is revered for its many health benefits. In this delicious herbal wellness tea, we’ve combined licorice root and tulsi with a powerhouse of helpers: peppermint, hibiscus, honey bee pollen, and eucalyptus. Not only is the tea delicious, but it is soothing too.  Enjoy this tea hot or iced.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I suffer from seasonal allergies that seem to last all year long now.  I never used to!  Before moving to the Pacific Northwest, I didn’t have allergies.  But I guess with all the pollen in this area, I soon started feeling unwell in the spring with allergy symptoms, but because I never had allergies before, I thought maybe it was something else.

Then I started taking allergy medication and my symptoms disappeared.  At first, I only needed these toward the end of winter, through spring and at the very start of summer.  Then I started needing it through summer.  Now, I need the medication year round or I start sneezing, eyes start watering and I’m just really uncomfortable with my symptoms.

So, I am always looking for a tisane that I enjoy that might help me alleviate my symptoms so that I don’t have to take so much allergy medication.   So when I saw that this was a Seasonal Relief blend, I was excited to try it.

Unfortunately, I’m just not enjoying this one very much.  Perhaps it’s the eucalyptus, but I feel like I’m sipping on liquefied VapoRub.

At first, I enjoyed the peppermint and licorice-y notes, and I could taste notes of tulsi that I enjoyed.  But after drinking about 1/4th of the cup, the flavor of the eucalyptus seemed to build and it got to the point where all I could taste was the eucalyptus and this does not create a very pleasant cup for me.

On the plus side, the hibiscus is not a heavy flavor or texture.  I think that this could be much nicer if maybe there was less eucalyptus, and maybe a little more peppermint and tulsi.

Overall, this just wasn’t my cup of tea.  They can’t all be, though.  Teanzo has had some real winners with this Advent Calender, this just didn’t do it for me, so hopefully tomorrow, we’ll have something yummy!

Apple Harvest Iced Black Tea from Southern Boy Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 23:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Zoomdweebies

Tea Description:

If this doesn’t put you in the mood for fall, I can’t help you. This awesome iced tea is a blend of organic southern Indian black teas and organic red delicious and granny smith apple flavors. It’s a bit sweet, a bit tart and all refreshing.

Learn more about this tea here.

Learn about SBT’s subscriptions here.

Taster’s Review:

I’ve been drinking this periodically throughout the day, and when I was pouring past the half-way point of the pitcher of tea, I realized that I better sit down and write about it before I have an empty pitcher of tea and no tea left to write about!

That is to say, it’s tasty.  I like that it’s sweet but not cloying.  When I focus on what I taste, I can recognize the apple notes.  When I’m casually sipping, I don’t immediately notice that “hey, I’m drinking an apple tea.”  I just notice that “hey, this tastes really good.”  But then when I reach the bottom of the glass of tea, my last gulp is very obviously apple.

The apple notes and the black tea notes work together extremely well.  The black tea tastes smoother.  It’s a medium-bodied black tea base that’s very pleasant to drink.  It has a certain “invigorating” quality to it without being even the slightest bit aggressive, bitter or astringent.  It is smooth and silky and very refreshing.

The apple tastes sweet and there’s just enough tartness to the apple to add a balancing contrast to the flavor.  It’s not an overly flavored tea – this is a tea first and an apple-y tasting tea second.

I have to admit that when this tea was announced on the week of October 13, I wasn’t all that excited about it.  I mean, it sounded good and if I wasn’t already a subscriber, I probably would have ordered the tea to try it.  But, was I dancing the happy dance over the idea of Apple Harvest Iced Tea?  No, no I wasn’t.  But now, I’m dancing that happy dance.  Because this tea is really good!  I ended up liking this much more than I thought I would.  Yum!

Cameron Tea Taiwan Beipu Black Tea - Oriental Beauty

Tea For Me Please - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 17:00
Country of Origin: Taiwan Leaf Appearance: small, curly and dark with scattered white tips Ingredients: black tea Steep time: 30 seconds Water Temperature: 212 degrees Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan Liquor: dark reddish amber Oriental Beauty is one of my favorite oolongs. This one was interesting because it is actually a black tea, meaning that the leaves have been 100% oxidized. Just asNicole Martinhttps://plus.google.com/103097147251455801975noreply@blogger.com0
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