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Formosa Assam from Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 09:18

Tea Type:  
Black

Where to Buy:
Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company

Tea Description: 

NEW ITEM THIS MONTH!

What a smooth tea this is! This tea comes from a farm just above the pristine alpine lake called Sun Moon Lake. It’s hand processed by Mr. Lee and his wife, a wonderful and hospitable couple. They grow without chemicals the old fashioned way. Do you like black teas from India? This tea is similar but has no astringency. It’s a pure stock Assam Black Tea that has been growing in Taiwan since 1926 when the Japanese imperial machine started to foster a tea industry in Taiwan for world-wide export.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:
This is one of this company’s NEW teas and I must say it’s a GOODIE!  Of course – I’m partial to a solid black tea especially in the morning – I usually start each day with a black based tea and then move on to other types of tea throughout the day.  Have said that – I REALLY love this tea.

I’ve been hearing a lot of people use the word “Pristine” more and more these days.  I’m not sure if it’s a new buzz word or fad or lingo but I try and reserve it for something REALLY special.  After reading the product description of this tea and this tea being from a farm about the “pristine” Alpine Lake call Sun Moon Lake of course I had to research it to see if it lived up to the word.  And you know what?  It DOES!  This lake truly IS a gem!  It’s marvelously beautiful…and I’ll say it…PRISTINE.  After seeing the photographs I can’t image anything ‘bad’ coming from this area.  I absolutely believe this tea lives up to the product description.

I LOVE that this grown without the use of chemicals and the old fashioned way.  It has no astringency.  It’s bold but smooth.  It’s sweet, too.  For a black based tea I think this has a level of mouth watering and thirst quenching type of sip to it, too!  The leaves are fairly large and precise.  The aroma is pleasant but not over powering and not dark like most black teas.  I can’t think of one thing I don’t like about this tea.  It’s a real winner in my book!

Peaches & Cream Flavored Genmaicha from 52Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 03:59

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  52Teas

Tea Description:

So anyway, that’s been my week.  Hope you and yours are doing well.  You know, I could very well be crazy for writing most of this, but sometimes I feel like it might be more interesting to our readers to actually hear what I’ve been up to rather than hearing me go on every week about how each of these teas is awesome and going to sell out fast and you should get yours now.  I mean, all of that is true, but how many times does anyone really want to read that?

So, this week’s post is kind of an experiment.  I’m anxious to see how people respond to it.

The Tea…

Genmaicha green tea with toasted rice, popped sorghum seeds, freeze-dried peaches and organic peach and cream flavors.

Learn more about this blend here.

Taster’s Review:

When this Peaches & Cream Flavored Genmaicha was first announced as the tea of the week for June 9th, I wasn’t really sure how the sweetness of peaches and cream would work with the nutty, roasted flavor of the genmaicha.  It sounded intriguing and unique, certainly, and maybe just a little bit crazy, maybe it was crazy enough to work!

And while it IS a tasty cup of tea, I’m not sure I’m as crazy as I want to be for it to say that it “works.”  It tastes good, certainly, and I do like how the toasty, nut flavor of the genmaicha plays with the flavors of peaches and cream, but, at the same time, it almost seems to detract from the blend a little bit.

I can taste all the elements:  the notes of the green tea are lightly vegetal, the toasty rice adds a pleasant sweetness, and the peaches are juicy and add a really nice fruity note to the cup, while the cream notes melds a little bit with the nutty notes of the toasted rice to create a sweet, deliciously creamy tone.  But they almost seem a little disjointed.

It’s a tasty tea, but not the best that I’ve tasted from 52Teas.

Properties of Aged Wulong

Walker Tea Review - Sun, 07/20/2014 - 16:23
Suppose a tea vendor or processor  somewhere in China or Taiwan is going through his storage room and finds a container of tea that has been sitting there for more years than he can remember. Knowing that tea cost him something, and looking to recover that cost, he comes up with an idea: “I’ll call […]

Kenilworth Ceylon Black Tea from Simple Loose Leaf

SororiTEA Sisters - Sun, 07/20/2014 - 16:00

Kenilworth Ceylon Black Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Simple Loose Leaf

Tea Description:

A satisfying stand alone black tea, this richly robust Kenilworth Ceylon needs nothing to compliment its full-bodied stature. Stronger then our Ceylon Supreme, this fruitier, seemingly apricot flavored, fuller bodied tea exhibits a little tart acidity that lingers on the tongue for a touch of bite. This tea is best served hot or as a strong iced black tea.

Learn more about this tea here.

Learn more about Simple Loose Leaf’s Selection Club subscription program here.

Taster’s Review:

A lovely Ceylon!  I find myself in agreement with the above description provided by Simple Loose Leaf, this is a Ceylon that requires no additions, it is a good, sturdy, robust black tea that has some real heft to it.  This would make a good breakfast tea as well, and I think it would take well to the additions of milk and honey (or sugar – preferably raw! – or for a real treat, try drizzling some real maple syrup in your cup!)

As for here and now, I’ve selected this as a cup of tea to enjoy as my afternoon cuppa, and it is versatile enough to become a brisk afternoon tea as well as that strong first cup or that well-rounded breakfast tea.

It has a very pleasing flavor:  rich with notes of stone fruit.  As the description above suggests, there is a distinct apricot note to this cup.  Toward the finish, I notice a hint of citrus, as if someone added just a drop of freshly squeezed lemon juice to my cup.  The acidic note of the citrus like flavor cuts through the sweeter notes – think molasses! – so that the cup doesn’t become overwhelmingly sweet.

I’m surprised at just how full-flavored this Ceylon is, as I have come to expect a Ceylon to be a milder tasting tea.  This is malty!  Layers of earth and flower lie just beneath the more dominate layers of sweet fruit.

It is a very nicely round, satisfying cuppa that has the ability to become what you want it to be!  An iced tea?  Sure!  Try cold-brewing this one, or if you prefer the hot-brew method, add a sprig of mint to the teapot before you add the hot water or try adding a thin slice of lime to the chilled tea for a truly refreshing drink.  Want a robust breakfast tea?  This tea has that covered too.  A pleasant afternoon tea to share with guests?  Yep, this tea will serve your friends well.  This tea is one of those teas that should be a standard in every well-stocked tea cupboard.

Free Classic Tea eBooks II

Tea Guy Speaks - Sun, 07/20/2014 - 15:00


Here's part two of the list of old tea books that I've reviewed at The English Tea Blog. Most of them are available in free online or ebook editions. Check out part one of the list here.

Tea-Blending as a Fine Art
by Joseph M. Walsh link

An Essay on Tea
By Jonas Hanway link

Tea; Its Effects, Medicinal and Moral
by George Gabriel Sigmond link

Letter to a Friend, Concerning Tea
by John Wesley link

A Popular Treatise on Tea
by John Sumner link

The Book of Tea
by Kakuzo Okakura link

Tea and Tea Drinking
By Arthur Reade link

The Breville One-Touch Tea Maker

Free Classic Tea eBooks I

Tea Guy Speaks - Sun, 07/20/2014 - 14:00


In addition to writing about tea at this site, I contribute frequently to The English Tea Store Blog. One of my favorite topics there is old books about tea. Now that every bit of text in the known universe is being (or soon will be) digitized, it means that quite a few of these dusty old tomes are readily available in free electronic editions. Here are links to some of the reviews I've written about them and here's part two of the list.

Tsiology; A Discourse on Tea
By A Tea Dealer link

Tea, Its Mystery and History
by Samuel Phillips Day link

A Journey to the Tea Countries of China
By Robert Fortune link

Tea and Coffee
By William Andrus Alcott link

Panacea: A Poem Upon Tea in Two Cantos
By Nehum Tate link

The Natural History of the Tea-Tree
By John Coakley Lettsom link

The Tea Cyclopaedia link

Cuisinart TEA-100 PerfecTemp Programmable Tea Steeper

Chai Cacao Tea from Tisano

SororiTEA Sisters - Sun, 07/20/2014 - 03:59

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Tisano

Tea Description:

In India tea has it’s roots in Ayurveda, a wholestic approach to medicine focusing on food and lifestyle. From there, India’s most popular beverage – Masala Chai, “Spiced Tea,” was born. Tisano takes this 5,000 year old tradition into the 21st Century – we source estate grown Assam Black Tea leaves, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and other spices to create a unique sweet and spicy chocolate Chai Cacao Tea.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I was so excited when this tea was offered on sale on the Tisano website recently, because I’ve been wanting to try it ever since I heard that it had been added to the Tisano line of teas and tisanes.  I’m really fond of Tisano’s original cacao tea which I reviewed previously (and plan to review again for this site soon!)  That moment when I first sampled the original was my first introduction to cacao shells (rather than nibs) as a source for chocolate-y infused drinks.  And seriously, there’s nothing better to infuse than cacao shells to get a rich, true, chocolate-y flavor!

When I visited the Tisano website to start prepping for this review, I learned that this wasn’t just a simple blend of cacao shells with spices like I first thought it was!  No!  This is actually a tea with camellia sinensis leaves, as well as cacao shells and spices.

Mmm!  This is so yummy!  The chocolate note is rich and prominent.  It’s the first note that I taste when I take a sip.  Decadent, rich, delicious chocolate!  Just beneath the chocolate-y surface is a satisfyingly smooth, malty note of Assam.  Then I pick up on the spices.

The spices here are not strong or “spicy.”  The spice notes are warm and I love the dimension that the spices add to this cup.  There is a really nice balance of the spices.  No one spice takes center stage, it is a well-rounded collection of spices that add warmth to the cup without overpowering the cacao.  Instead, the spices elevate the earthy notes of the cacao.

The cacao shells are the perfect representation of chocolate.  It’s rich and intensely flavorful.  It tastes like true chocolate much more so than any chocolate flavoring that I’ve experienced with flavored teas, and it’s also a better chocolate-y representation than cacao nibs.  This tastes like a deep, dark, rich chocolate with notes of bitter and sweet.  It tastes amazing as a latte too.  Perfect!

This is THE CHAI for chocolate lovers.  If you love chocolate, you really must try this tea!

Inverness Estate Black Tea with Essence of Bergamot from Eden Grove

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 07/19/2014 - 16:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Amazon Trading

Ingredients:

Black Tea with natural bergamot flavor.

Learn more about Amazon Trading here.

Taster’s Review:

I saved my review of this tea for a while since TeaEqualsBliss had also reviewed it, and I figured I had a lot of other teas from Eden Grove to sample, so I’d save this bergamot for one of the last ones I’d try from this company.  Well, that and … it IS bergamot.  I saved what I thought I’d like best for one of the last teas I’d try from them.

Now that I taste it, I can’t say that I do actually like it best.  I think there were some other teas from Eden Grove that I preferred over this Inverness Estate Black Tea with Essence of Bergamot.  That’s not to say that I dislike this one, because it’s actually quite nice.

That said, when it comes to bergamot, I prefer it strongly flavored and this is a little on the subtle side.  The Iverness single estate black tea is brisk,  however, I think I’d like the bergamot to be on even footing with the robust flavor of the black tea and it isn’t.

There is a nice, bright, citrus-y note to this, but it tastes more like lemon than it does bergamot to me.  Again, not necessarily a bad thing, but, for an Earl Grey fan like me … I’m all about the Italian orange!  I want bergamot!

Overall, this is a tasty cuppa, and I was happy with it.  I just could have been even happier if the bergamot were stronger.

Product Review: Matcha Cupcake from Whole Foods Market Bakery

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 07/19/2014 - 03:59

Product Information:

Where to Buy:  Whole Foods 

Note:  this cupcake is a specialty of the Bakery inside the Mills Plain Whole Foods Market in Vancouver, Washington.  I don’t know if they offer anything similar to it in other Whole Foods Markets.  

Taster’s Review:

OK, so this is a very local review, because the Matcha cupcake is a specialty of the Mills Plain Whole Foods Market in Vancouver, Washington.  (Sorry about those folks who don’t live close enough to make the jaunt.)  But I felt like this yummy cupcake deserved some praise.

I stopped by the bakery at my local Whole Foods because my oldest daughter and I have developed quite a fondness for Macarons, so I decided to pick up a yummy Macaron for each of us on my most recent visit.  While I was there drooling over the bakery case, I noticed this sign:  Stella’s Matcha Cake.  And I’m like … WHAT?

So I start browsing the case and I see the Matcha cupcakes.  Mmm!  I’m glad that they are cupcakes and not large layer cakes because … well, because I’m the only person in my household that would have been willing to try it.  I mean, the rest of my family might have tried it, but probably not.  I suspect that they would have looked at the green frosting and thought: “That’s weird.”  Which means: “I’m not going to try it.”

And I’m really glad I got the opportunity to try this because it’s totally YUM!  The cake itself doesn’t taste like it’s got Matcha in it, it tastes like a yellow cake.  Moist and flavorful and not too sweet.  It has been “tunneled” so that they could fill the cake with the Matcha frosting that tops the cake.  The Matcha used in this frosting is Townshend’s Tea Matcha, which is one that I haven’t yet had the opportunity to review, but hope to do so sometime soon.

For now, I must be content with trying it in Stella’s Magical Matcha frosting.  No, it’s not actually called that (at least I don’t think it is).  But I am calling it that, because this is amazingly good.  It’s sweet (most frosting is!) but I like that I’m not overwhelmed by the ratio of sugar and shortening.  It doesn’t taste like one of those cloyingly sweet frostings that you’d find in your typical grocery bakery that is more concerned with quantity than quality.  You can tell that some love and care went into this frosting.

I like that I can taste this and taste the Matcha, that the sugary sweetness doesn’t overpower the lovely vegetal notes of the Matcha.  It’s nicely balanced.  I think I can even taste more of the natural cacao notes of the Matcha when used to make a frosting.  I also taste a hint – just a hint! – of a citrus-y note to this frosting, like maybe a drop or two of lemon juice was added?  I don’t know, but it adds a nice contrast to the sweeter flavors.

This is really good!

So, if you happen to be anywhere near Vancouver, Washington, it’s certainly worth the trip to visit our Whole Foods market on Mills Plain and try one of these divine treats!  You’ll be happy you did!

Rose Mojito White Tea Blend from The Persimmon Tree

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 16:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  White

Where To Buy:  The Persimmon Tree

Tea Description:

Featuring a beautiful blend of organic flower-scented white loose-leaf teas, wild roses, organic peppermint and seasonally selected botanicals; our Rose Mojito is refreshing and fragrant. This soothing infusion is a wonderful way to relax unwind after a long day.

Learn more about this blend here.

Taster’s Review:

This tea is so smooth, refreshing and tasty, that I nearly finished my first pot of it before I remembered that I need to write a review about it!  So, I re-steeped the leaves and I’m thrilled to say that the second infusion is even BETTER than the first!

Everything about this beautiful blend is balanced.  From the flavor of the sweet silver needle tea, to the soft notes of rose and the surprisingly subtle notes of peppermint.  Everything is gentle and delicate.  I like that I taste each of these notes, but, there isn’t a competition going on in my teacup.  It all has the soft offerings of a white tea blend and the peppermint and rose stay in check.

It’s a crisp and refreshing tea.  It is a cooling beverage, even when served hot.  I feel invigorated as I sip it without feeling overstimulated.  This would make a welcome tea on a warm summer evening (and right now, we’re getting a lot of those!) because it has a calming influence and yet it has a soft way about it that seems to replenish the body as I sip.

A really delicious cup of tea that smells as amazing as it tastes – and it tastes pretty darned amazing!

A Gift of Shou

Tea For Me Please - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 16:00

One of the advantages of managing a tea house is that I now have a place where I can meet up with tea friends on a regular basis. Sometimes those meetings are unexpected. Last Saturday I was pleasantly surprised to see +Payton Swick from the excellent blog Someteawith.me. We had several mutual friends in common and it was great to have a chance to talk shop. He was kind enough to share a bit of 1995 shou puerh that he had obtained on a trip to China. When I brewed it the tea was inky dark but surprisingly light and sweet tasting. On a hot summer day, it was exactly what I needed to recharge.

This was a great reminder that I don't give cooked puerh enough credit. I lean much more towards sheng but shou can be delicious it is own right. This was a great day at the tea house because not only did I get to meet Payton but +Mario Nicholas+Chante Ramsey and Lisa from Chambre de Sucre stopped by.

Tea friends are the best kind of friends. Had a great day because I got to see @sirbrillig @MarioTravels @SynchRhythm and @ChambreDeSucre :)
— Nicole Martin (@teaformeplease) July 12, 2014

Tea bags or loose-leaf tea? One man’s journey to enlightenment

T Ching - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 12:00

When buying tea, you are faced with a choice: tea packed in tea bags or loose-leaf tea? Let’s start with tea bags. The little paper sachets of tea are undeniably convenient. Storage is very easy. Making a cuppa is very easy – just drop the bag into your cup, add some boiling water, give it a quick stir, take the bag out, add your milk if that is your preference, and away you go! Or if you are the outdoorsy type, they are perfect for camping or a picnic. Flat, light, and easy to pack in a poly bag – what could be better. But in terms of getting any health benefits and flavor, they are not a patch on loose-leaf tea.

We Brits are renowned for enjoying a cuppa, but the bulk of tea consumed in the UK is black tea, produced in India and presented in tea bags. This sort of tea is inevitably taken with milk added and often sugar. Fifty years ago as a lad I remember that it was a different story. Virtually every house had a tea caddy with loose-leaf tea. It was still the same old black tea, but not so crushed up and placed into bags.

Serving it was a bit of a ritual. The pot was warmed with a little boiling water. This was poured away and one teaspoon of tea added per person with “one for the pot.” Boiling water was then added and the leaves were given a quick stir before being left for 3-5 minutes to “mash.” A final stir and the tea was poured into the cup, usually with the milk already there. Allegedly, this practice arose when cups were of such poor quality that they would crack if the hot tea was poured in.

So why do teabags mash so much faster? Simple – the leaves are crushed up very finely so the water can penetrate them to extract the flavor and goodness much quicker. Good idea I hear you say. Not really, as it means that the air can also get to the interior of the leaves much more easily. This oxidizes the components of the tea, reducing the flavor and destroying the antioxidants (once they are oxidized they no longer function as such).

I first started drinking green tea because the girl behind the counter had been talking to another customer about how good the stuff was for you. So I went away, read up a bit more, and decided to give it a go. Armed with a box of clipper green tea bags, I made my first few cups. They were so disappointing. The tea had little flavor and tasted just like English Breakfast Tea, even when left for several minutes longer than recommended. So I got hold of some loose-leaf green tea. I can’t remember the brand, but it was from my local health shop. It was slightly better, but nothing much to write home about.

So that was that, at least for a few years until I came across some green tea from a company called Adagio. What a huge difference! Their loose-leaf green tea had an incredible flavor, very different from the everyday black tea bag tea and certainly much better than the green tea bag tea. Gourmet-quality tea was the way forward for me. After trying out several brands, I eventually settled on In Nature teas. For me, the flavor is the nicest and I really like their other teas, particularly their oolong teas, which have a sweet and faintly nutty flavor.

Although I am no tea connoisseur or tea snob (I still like the traditional British cuppa made with a tea bag and find it refreshing), for anything other than the everyday cup of tea, I prefer loose-leaf tea. Based on my experience of the health food shop loose-leaf green tea, I spend a bit more and go for gourmet quality, as I believe it is worth it.

How about you?

This post first published on the blog 18 June 2013.

The post Tea bags or loose-leaf tea? One man’s journey to enlightenment appeared first on T Ching.

Spring Keemun Limited Edition Tea from Damn Fine Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 03:59

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Damn Fine Tea

Tea Description:

We’ve noticed spring is struggling to get off the ground this year in our little corner of the USA. March came in like a lion but its fur got stuck to the permafrost so the lion continues to sit outside our door, calmly licking its paws and giving us the stare down. Fine. We’ll stare right back. Should be no problem as long as our supply of this great Keemun holds out. Good thing we have 150 2.5 ounce tins of the… Wait. We only have 150 tins? Whose idea was that?

Despite a strong desire to keep all these tins of Spring Keemun for ourselves, we offer them to you. This is a spring crop of Keemun Xiang Luo (Fragrant Spirals), so while this tea has all the usual, unmistakable tawny richness of Keemun, it is more delicate than you might expect. Lion and lamb, all at once. The leaves are so beautiful — elegant, dark, and shiny — it’s almost a shame to pour water on them! When you do, make sure the water is boiling hot and allow it to steep for at least 5 minutes. Or longer. This is a very patient tea.

Learn more about this limited-edition tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Yeah … so shortly after I purchased the Yunnan Gold Tips on Canada Day, Andrews & Dunham announce that they’re offering free shipping to the USA on the 4th of July.  As it turned out, I would have been safe in waiting until the 4th to get free shipping for my Yunnan tea, but, I didn’t want to take that chance that I’d miss out on the tea because at the time that I ordered, there were only 6 tins left of it.  There are now – as I write this review – 2 tins left of the Yunnan.

And while I am enjoying having the Yunnan in my cupboard (it makes for a seriously tasty cuppa!) I’m even happier that I now have this Spring Keemun in my cupboard!  OH YUM!

I think I’m in love with the tea that is in my teacup right now.  Seriously.  I have tried a lot of Keemun in my years as a tea reviewer, but I do believe that this Xiang Luo is the best Keemun I’ve tried to date.  It’s delightful.  So good, in fact, that I’m contemplating picking up another tin or two so that I have it on hand for many more months to come.

It is rich and smooth and delicious.  There is very little astringency to this, although there is just a slight twinge of dryness toward the end of the sip.  The texture is thick and almost creamy, evoking thoughts of a warm, comforting soup.  But this is sweeter than a soup!

It tastes of honeyed caramel.  I can almost taste the light notes of flowery pollen.  There are fruit notes to this as well.  Sweet, juicy plum – just the sweetness of the plum, no tartness from the fruit.  Sun-ripened plums drizzled with honey and then cooked down to caramelize it.  Mmm!

There is a tantalizing, cake-y, freshly baked sort of goodness to this tea too, like a cake that had just come out of the oven.  You know those browned, caramelized edges of a freshly baked cake?  Yeah … that’s what I taste.  Again, let me say:  Mmm!

Delicious!  This tea is best served hot.  Sure, it’s really good when it cools off, but, something is lost with the chill.  The flavors mute a little and you really want to experience this tea to its fullest flavor, which means drinking ti while its still hot.  Give it a few minutes to cool after you’ve poured yourself a cup, and then begin to enjoy every sip.  Not that you need me to tell you to enjoy … because trust me, you will!

There are only 32 tins left of this tea – this is one you don’t want to miss out on.  The only disappointing thing about this tea is the “prize” that comes with it … it’s an A&D Damn Fine Tea button.  Like the kind you pin on your jacket or hat.  It’s OK, I guess, but seeing as this tea is to be a celebration of Spring, I thought that they could have been a little more creative.  A little toy bird like the one on the label of the tea?  That would have been fun!

But it should say something to you that my only complaint about this tea is the freebie that came with it.  (Well, that and the tea disappears too fast after I’ve poured a cup!)  What the Spring Keemun lacks in free prize it more than makes up for in amazing flavor!

Four Seasons Spring Oolong from Green Terrace Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 07/17/2014 - 16:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Green Terrace Teas

Tea Description:

Grown at about 1,200 meters in the rich soil of the Alishan region, this tea is a wonderful introduction to oolong teas from Taiwan.  Sweet, rich and aromatic, Four Seasons Spring Oolong (or Si Ji Chun) has a pleasant buttery and honey taste that evokes mild notes of jasmine and lily.  This oolong as a mild vegetal character and has almost no bitterness – a great tea for any time of the day.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Oh … LOVELY!  It’s been a while since I’ve had a Si Ji Chun, I’ve been focusing on other teas as of late and this is almost like a new tea to me now.  But as I am sipping this golden cup of wonderful, I have to think – why have I been away so long, Si Ji Chun?

The aroma of the dry leaf is FRESH … like a fresh spring morning!  It smells a little vegetal, and I realize it’s those vegetal notes that give it the fresh smell, but rather than smelling specifically of vegetable or steamed veggies or even of grass, this just smells like the new, fresh smells that great the olfactory nerves as spring reawakens the earth.

Sweet, sweet, sweet!  This is so delightfully creamy, with notes that are reminiscent of butter and honey – evoking thoughts of honey butter!  The sweet, yummy spread my gramma used to make when she’d bake fresh biscuits for dinner.  Mmm!  But there’s more to this cup than just a sweet resemblance of honey butter, I taste sweet floral notes and a hint of vegetative flavor.

It’s a remarkably smooth cup with very little astringency.  I do notice just a hint of astringency at the tail, but, it’s very subtle.  The above description suggests notes of jasmine and lily, and while I do taste a ‘floral’ taste to the cup, I don’t know that it’s jasmine and lily that I taste.  Then again, this is only the first cup (infusions 1 and 2 after a 15 second rinse), perhaps those flowers will reveal more of themselves in the later infusions.

The second cup is not quite as creamy as the first was.  There are still notes of butter, and it’s still a delightfully sweet cup of tea.  The floral notes are beginning to emerge more in this cup, and I definitely do notice a jasmine-esque tone.  It’s not nearly as obvious a jasmine note as I’d experience with a jasmine scented tea, but, there are notes here that I recognize as jasmine.

I’m also noticing a touch of citrus to this second cup as well, as if someone maybe put a drop of lime in my cup.  It’s bright and adds a nice dimension to the cup.

I can still taste notes of creaminess in the third cup, but there is a gradual loss of the creaminess with each subsequent infusion.  The sweetness is still there.  The floral notes seem to have merged together with the other flavors of this cup, creating a taste that’s a little floral and a little vegetal, and a little creamy too.  The aforementioned citrus tone is there as well, and it’s quite a delicious combination of flavors.

A really lovely Oolong.  For those out there who – like me – have been drinking other Oolong teas and haven’t had a really good Four Seasons in a while, now is the time to reinvigorate your palate!

Lochan Tea Doke Silver Needle 2014

Tea For Me Please - Thu, 07/17/2014 - 16:00
Country of Origin: India
Leaf Appearance: large, silvery needles covered in downy hair
Ingredients: white tea
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 175 degrees
Preparation Method: glass teapot
Liquor: gold

I have been itching to try this tea for the longest time. +Lochan Tea Limited has a reputation for making some really amazing teas at their Doke Farm in Bihar, India. Their Rolling Thunder is one of my favorites so I was really excited to dig in. The dry leaves were quite large and super fuzzy. I didn't quite become Lenny from Of Mice and Men but they were unbelievably soft to the touch. I was expecting the taste to be similar to a typical Bai Hao Yin Zhen but this was a whole other animal. It was creamy and nutty with a really pleasant fruitiness. There was also just a hint of floral lingering in the finish. I was having a very bad day at this point and this tea completely made me forget about everything. My day turned around shortly after that. It definitely must have been the tea :)

Doke Silver Needle sample provided by Lochan Tea.


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Magnum opus: part 2

T Ching - Thu, 07/17/2014 - 12:03

Sometimes quantity must make up for quality, and sometimes you lack either.That was a meaningless sentence, but it summarizes the hopeless viewpoint I had at the beginning of the year as Grand Emperor of the Tea Club. My regular membership had dwindled to five, none of whom held elected positions. The President, Vice-President, and Treasure-Bearer had drifted away from their stations. Two members professed to not drinking tea, which was confusing, considering their membership. We had some serious challenges ahead of us.

We did not despair. Our elected officials were no-shows, but the remaining members were willing to assume their responsibiliteas. (Puns were important to morale.) Our initially non-drinker members warmed up to the second-most popular beverage in the world; and by the end of the year, every one would bring a mug. Mid-year, we had to leave the tiny room where we held our meetings, but the move brought us to a much nicer, more well-lit room.

We had many successes, including the Tea Trolley: a mobile cart from which I sold cups of good black tea. We shared many new teas among the group, from Red Robe Oolong to an off-brand pregnancy tea (sweet, with fruity notes!). New members started attending meetings, and although they occasionally did not return for a second week, the club picked up momentum.

Our greatest achievement was the talk given by the illustrious Dr. Sandy Bushberg. He gave a very entertaining talk on the various health benefits and different types of tea that exist. We planned and executed lots of publicity, and received significant attendance. The talk was the climax of the year – and of the club’s existence thus far. It was well-attended, well-delivered, and just well-done.

I see good things for the future of the tea club. I am off to pursue my own college adventure at the end of next month.  I have designated a new Grand Emperor – a member of the club who has proven herself responsible, interested in tea, and willing to put out the effort. Our club has funds saved from the sales gathered on the Tea Trolley, which will be placed into projects, or into a tea-related charity. I see bright things on the horizon, which I will only be able to see from afar. If any current members are reading this, I praise you. Truly, your dedication is the greatest reward I could have ever asked for. Brew on.

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Part One of this series can be found here.

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Mango Sherbet Flavored Iced Tea from Southern Boy Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 07/17/2014 - 03:59

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  52Teas

Learn more about Southern Boy Teas here.

Check out Southern Boy Teas’ Kickstarter Campaign to raise funds to attend the ASD Trade Show in Las Vegas.

Taster’s Review:

I was excited when I saw this flavor added to the Southern Boy Teas line, because I remembered the yummy Mango Ice Cream flavor that 52Teas had as their tea of the week some time ago, and I was hoping that this would be similar to that.  That tea was seriously yummy!

And so is this Iced Tea flavor from SBT!  The mango is a strong flavor and it’s sweet and fruity.  There is a creamy element to the flavor as well, and I like the way this melds with the black tea notes to create a malty, creamy, refreshing black tea flavor.

This iced tea is so delicious!  It tastes like someone melted a scoop of mango sherbet in my glass of iced tea!  It’s sweet and mango-ish, with just the right notes of creaminess, but these flavors don’t overpower the brisk flavor of the black tea.  The creaminess does soften the “edge” of the tea just slightly without overwhelming the ‘black tea’ flavor that I’m looking for when I pour myself a glass of iced tea.

This iced tea flavor from SBT is a real winner!

Frank (the chief Zoomdweebie at 52Teas and Southern Boy Teas) is trying to raise enough money to set up a display at the ASD Trade Show in Las Vegas, which is to take place very soon.  This kind of exposure will really help his company take off.  Please consider helping this small business become a big success by donating to their Kickstarter campaign.  Thank you!

Kokang Green Tea from Shan Valley

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 16:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Shan Valley

Tea Description:

This first flush green tea is from the Kokang region of Myanmar, close to the Yunan region in china. This is considered the highest quality tea that is available to the public in Myanmar.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This tea is interesting because it really seems like two different teas:  when it is served hot, I get a different set of flavors than as it cools.  Both are really delicious, though!

When served hot, I get a fresh and exhilarating flavor that is rich and brothy without tasting overly vegetal.  In fact, there are very little distinct vegetative flavor to this green tea and I found that quite surprising.

There is a lovely buttery note to this – not so much a creamy, sweet butter flavor but more like a browned butter.  I’m picking up on a slightly smoky note to this as well as distant notes of flower and a nice fruit note that is like a hybrid fruit of melon, sweet green grapes and a hint of citrus that is particularly noticeable toward the finish.

The hot cup is a beautifully sweet tasting tea with notes of savory and smoke.  As the cup cools, I notice the flavors changing a bit.  I still get a pleasantly sweet cuppa, but, the aforementioned buttery note becomes more creamy now and less like a brown butter.

This is sweet and creamy!  Mmm!  I still taste those notes of fruit and flower, and I’m not tasting quite as much of a smoky element as I noticed with the hot tea.  It’s still very subtly there in the distance.  The fruit notes seem more pronounced now, and I’m tasting primarily fruit and cream with the cooled tea.

A really WONDERFUL tea – I’ve been so impressed with the 2014 teas from Shan Valley!

Non Fiction for Tea Lovers

Tea For Me Please - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 16:00
A few weeks ago I posted a neato interactive image of some of my favorite books called Fiction for Tea Lovers. It occurred to me that I should do one for non fiction as well. Have you read any of these? Is there one that I've missed? Let me know in the comments!
 

My favorite teahouse

T Ching - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 12:02

I’m always on the lookout for the quintessential tea house.  For me, it would be in nature as my relationship with tea speaks to its natural elements.  With each cup, I envision beautiful tea slopes on tall mountain peaks shrouded in morning mist. The tea house would need to be modern in style to allow itself to become part of the world outside.

The New York Times recently did a piece about the Japanese artist and visionary Hiroshi Sugimoto. It was his glass tea house in Venice that captured my imagination: “Hiroshi Sugimoto is a celebrated chronicler of the monotonous, the frozen and the familiar. He has photographed seascapes, modernist buildings and wax figures of famous people.”

I found it interesting that Sugimoto created such a small space, suitable for only two persons: the tea master and the guest. The small transparent box provides a unique space encouraging a degree of intimacy between the pair. Although it is set up on the grounds of a museum, I like to imagine it in a forrest, surrounded by trees and passing animals.

Teahouse above Lake Louise after a stiff hike into the Plain of Six Glaciers.

I’m not sure what it is about nature, but I find myself at peace in a way that I’m not able to achieve indoors. It reminds me that we’re all connected and part of something greater.  Those of us who love tea often find that similar connection with the people whom we choose to share tea with.  This connection feels universal in that it’s a common thread that people write about when sharing stories of tea ceremonies (formal or informal) that they’ve attended. Tea unites us.  Tea soothes us.  Tea stimulates us. And of course, tea relaxes us. 

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