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Smith Teamaker Darjeelings - First Flush vs Second Flush

Notes on Tea - Mon, 02/20/2017 - 00:49

You did not misread the title. This review is about Smith Teamaker's Darjeeling First Flush which I reviewed last November. And it's also about Smith Teamaker's Second Flush Darjeeling. Last week I conducted a comparative cupping with my ITEI tea school instructor. The first flush was harvested in mid-March from the Tumsong garden. The leaves have been graded as FTGFOP1. The second flush was harvested in mid-May, so technically not a second flush, from the Steinthal garden. I've been taught leaves plucked in June are considered the second flush harvest. This tea was also graded FTGFOP1. The acronym stands for Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe. The number 1 was assigned my the taster to indicate the tea's specialness.

For both teas, I used professional tasting cups and protocol. Two grams of each tea were steeped in 212F water for three minutes. Here is my November 2016 profile of the Darjeeling First Flush:
The infused leaves smelled like green stems with floral and stone fruit notes. The liquor from the first infusion was a deep honey color, amber with a sweet smell which carried through to the taste. Accompanying the sweetness was a pleasant green astringency, a thigh mouthfeel, and a lingering stone fruit taste. With a second infusion, the color of the liquor deepened but it was less sweet and fruity. The green astringency was still there though it had spun off into a dryness on the tongue and fruity film on my top row of teeth. The end note like gnawing on the pit of a stone fruit. The third and final infusion was lighter in color and thinner in flavor and texture. The green astringency was mostly gone but happily the dry fruitiness remained.
Darjeeling First Flush Tumsong
Was my second cupping with this first flush different? This recent cupping was fairly consistent with the first one. The dry leaf aroma was fresh and green like freshly cut vegetation, but not grass. There was a light sweetness on the nose. The sage and moss green leaves interspersed with a medium presence of silver buds were wiry and under one inch in length. The infused leaves smelled of broken plant stems or like when you open a pistachio nut (the official tasting notes list pistachio as a flavor). The leaves smelled sweet. My instructor asked if I smelled white flowers. I did not. The shiny liquor smelled similar to the infused leaves. The infusion was a golden yellow peach color. It was stone fruity sweet and lightly astringent. There was a raw vegetable bitterness, too. The mouthfeel was not substantial but the flavors lingered on my palate and in my cheeks; it was a light to medium body tea.

Darjeeling Second Flush Steinthal
The dry leaves of this Darjeeling were much darker than the leaves of the first flush. They smelled baked, buttery, and sweet. This tea was not as elegant looking as the first flush. There was greater variety in leaf length and most of the leaves were short at under half an inch in length. I observed a low presence of buds. The infused leaves smelled of dark fruit and had a sweet darkly baked fragrance. This tea's bouquet reminded me on an Oriental Beauty. My instructor told me that second flushes have a muscatel aroma (smell plus taste) which can be described as "ripe grapes on a vine in summer". The color of the infused leaves was more uniform than in the dry form.  The coppery liquor was shiny and smelled similar to the infused leaves. The tea had a medium body with lingering flavors. It was tannic, astringent, and robust. I prefer milk without tea. To control the tannic and astringent notes of this second flush, I would prepare it using it a gaiwan with gongfu gram weight and steep time.

Pairing Darjeeling &Food
Typically I don't include food pairings with my tea reviews but my instructor presented me with the following scenario: your client serves morning brunch and afternoon tea. Which of these teas would you recommend? If the client desired, she could offer both teas. The first flush would pair well with a light afternoon tea while the second flush would pair well with a heavier afternoon tea as well as with a traditional brunch. If the client only wanted to offer one of the teas, I would recommend the second flush. It is the more versatile of the two teas. In terms of menus, apricot jam; creamy, salty cheese savories; and white chocolate or pistachio and apricot studded chocolate sweets at afternoon tea to pair with the first flush. Egg omelette, french toast, and raisin scones for a traditional brunch with the second flush. The raisin scone could also be offered at afternoon tea along with creamy cheeses, milk chocolates, and creme caramel to balance the tannic nature of the second flush.

What do you pair with your Darjeelings?

The teas reviewed here were part of a Smith Teamaker Instagram prize pack.

P.S. Check out my review of the Smith Teamaker Oriental Beauty.

Teaful Taste of Taiwan Chapter 1

Notes on Tea - Mon, 02/20/2017 - 00:47

Bookish tea drinkers will appreciate that Teaful has branded its tea releases as chapters. Each chapter will contain 4 teas from Taiwan totaling 75 grams. Chapter 1, which I review here, is a selection of four Taiwanese teas: Biluo Chun, a green tea from Sanxia; Jade Oolong from Mingjian in Nantou; Alishan Oolong from Chia Yi; and High Mountain Black Tea also from Nantou County. Dong Dong mountain and Shan Lin Xi are both in Nantou County. Dong Ding is also known as Tung Ting. The Teaful Jade Oolong is a dong ding/tung ting. Ali Shan originates in the Chia Yi district. The first of the teas I drank was the High Mountain Black Tea. I had drunk around the same time a Taiwanese black tea at Te Company (either the Jade Rouge or the Petite Noir or maybe both) and a different Taiwanese black, and Alishan Back, from Unytea. A bit of a tangent here: the Teaful black, I think, is processed from the Alishan cultivar Qing Xin. This same cultivar is the base tea for Te Company's Petite Noir and Unytea's Alishan Black. The Jae Rouge from Te Company is made from the Hongyu/TRES # 18 aka T-18 cultivar. I didn't know any of this by rote. I referred to the company's websites and my tea school textbook, TEA by Gascoyne et al.

High Mountain Black Tea

How did I prepare my first session with the High Mountain Black and what did I think of it? I infused 5 grams in 8 ounces of 195F water for 4 minutes per the label. Oh, the dry leaves were long, dark, and twisted. They smelled sweet and of dark dried fruit, maybe cherries. There was definitely a note of very good unsweetened cocoa powder or maybe cacao nibs. (Did you know that raw cacao powder is derived from cold-pressed unroasted cacao beans while cocoa powder is roasted raw cacao powder?) There was also a note of citrus akin to bergamot but not at all similar to Earl Grey. The dry leaves were very fragrant. The steam off the first infusion smelled so good. The taste was sweet like maple syrup on waffles or like melted cotton candy. There were also floral notes. As I finished the first infusion I also detected dates. Have you ever had Deglet date? Try one. The liquor was all caps fragrant and aromatic. The infused leaves were various shades of brown and quite long. They smelled woodsy and of sweet, dark fruit. I resteeped the leaves for 5 minutes at 200F. The flavor profile was similar though less juicy. Also, there was a drying effect. I infused the leaves for a third time using the same parameters. The steam was still fragrant but the liquor was milder tasting, mostly of honey. The mid-note was of cocoa and wood while the endnote was sweet.

After this experience I was excited to drink the other three teas in Chapter 1. I also had my second session with the black tea. For this session, for each tea, I used 2 grams of tea, 6 ounces of water, and 3.5 minute infusion. I used the water temperature recommended on the labels. I took a closer look at the dry leaves of the black tea. They were dark with copper highlights. Some were twisted but some were flat. The dry leaves smelled of honey and fruit. The infused leaves also smelled this way with the addition of malt and cocoa. The taste of the liquor was sweet like maple syrup, malt, lots of chocolate, and fruit as in fruit liqueurs. It was incredibly aromatic. There were also spice notes, vanilla and possibly cinnamon but cinnamon grown in Vietnam. (I was gifted some 10 years ago.)

Biluo Chun
I learned this type of green tea as being from Jiangsu, China. Biluochun is also known as green snail spring. Teaful's offering is from Sanxia, New Teipei City in northwestern Taiwan. The dry leaves colored silver, sage, moss, and forest green are long and slightly twisted. A deep inhale releases notes of hay and cream. The infused leaves smell consistently with the dry ones with the addition of deeply vegetal notes. The liquor was a pale sage color, bright and transparent. It tasted sweet and creamy with a creamy mouthfeel, too. There was a quality that I wrote as "meaty" but this taste could have been green bean or even sunflower seed and walnut ascribed to Dong Shan, a green tea processed from the Qun Ti Xiao Ye Zhong cultivar from which Chinese Bilochun is made. The nose was of the flowers or the actual flesh of summer fruit.

Jade Oolong

This oolong consisted of small, tightly rolled beads of dark green leaves with flecks of sage green which smelled like a creamy malt cereal. The clear yellow green liquor also tasted like a creamy malt cereal. The creaminess was in the mouthfeel, too. There was a striking vegetal note.

Alishan Oolong

Larger beads with more visible stems, this oolong also exuded a creamy fragrance. The pale green liquor distinctly floral and fruity. The lingering end note was sweet.

The High Mountain Black Tea was my favorite of these four Taiwanese teas from Teaful. It harmoniously encompasses many of the notes on the flavor wheel. The Bilochun is flavorful and would appeal to a palate that embraces umami forward teas. The two oolongs were delightful. I think they would shine brighter prepared in a gaiwan with less water and maybe more leaf. My next step is to prepare these oolongs gaiwan-style. Teaful just released Chapter 2 with Baozhong, Milk Oolong, Assam, and Ruby 18. Did you raise your eyebrows at Assam? Given that Teaful offered a Taiwanese Bilochun, a Taiwanese Assam should not be surprising. These types of double take moments are what makes this company's tea box stand out from others. They are offering delicious Taiwanese grown teas associated with other regions and countries. Read the Assam story here.

Taste of Taiwan Chapter 1 teas provided by Teaful.

Argo Tea Garden Direct Collection

Notes on Tea - Mon, 02/20/2017 - 00:47

Directly sourced tea from single estate gardens is a holy grail of the tea world. Argo Tea promises this with their new initiative, Garden Direct Collection. I received two teas and one tisane from Argo: Genmaicha, Nilgiri, and Rooibos. The Genmaicha is sourced from Maruei Tea Estate, Mei Perfecture, Japan; the Nilgiri from Parkside Tea Estate, India; and the Rooibos from Western Cape, South Africa. At the time of this post, I have not drunk the Rooibos. This tisane has not agreed with me lately.

Today's review is based on the several cups each I drank of the Nilgiri and Genmaicha. The teas arrived in a tall 4.9 oz glass bottle. My first impression after reading the brewing instructions on the bottle was that each bottle contained a filter and packets of whole leaf tea. I imagined that you could steep your tea on the go and have a reusable bottle to boot. Here are the instructions: "Place loose leaf into infuser....Pour hot water over the premium loose leaf tea. Let steep....Remove infuser...". On reflection it doesn't make sense for the bottle to contain an infuser. The glass bottle is not double walled so it would be scalding hot to hold! Another bottle comment: if you accidentally remove the brown wrapping from the bottle, you will need to store it in a cupboard because the glass is transparent.


I followed the brewing directions. I steeped 1 teaspoon in 6 ounces of 195F water for 4 minutes. Argo did not specify the water temperature so I used the temperature setting recommended by Aiya for it's genmaicha. (To be precise, Aiya recommends 194F.) The tea is beautiful. The white popcorn pops against the vibrant green sencha and the toasted brown rice. The dry leaves smelled nicely of popcorn, equal parts freshly popped and burned kernel. The liquor smelled strongly of rice; the rice that is stuck to the bottom of the pot and slightly burned. This is a very good smell and taste! I infused the leaves again for 5 minutes. The flavors were a little lighter but the toasted note lingered on my palate.


This black tea is listed as whole leaf but the small appearance of the leaves might indicate a broken leaf grade (B). The grade is not listed on the label. The leaf color is fairly dark with copper highlights. My first session with this tea I infused 2 teaspoons in boiling water. It was too hot. I then tried steeping 2 teaspoons in 200F water. It was just right. Infusing the leaves for 30 seconds produced the most flavorful liquor. Sweet and fruity with mild astringency. Another way I prepared this tea was infusing 2 teaspoons in 200F water for 1 minute which produced an unpleasantly strong liquor. The best approach is 2 teaspoons in 200F water for 30 seconds. In my gaiwan, I got 3 tasty infusions

The sessions I described above happened over the course of a day. The following day I used the brewing instructions provided on the label. I infused 1 teaspoon of leaves in 6 ounces of 212F (no temperature was specified) for 4 minutes. The color of the liquor was promising but the taste was mild. I detected honey, malt, and fruit but all these flavors were not fully realized. The dark fruit that I smelled on the dry leaves and even on the infused leaves was not found in the liquor. This tea requires more leaf gram to water volume to shine.

I will continue to drink both teas. The Nilgiri will fit right into our "breakfast tea" stash. The flavor profile of the Genmeicha makes it perfect for mid-morning or early afternoon snack time. This green tea would be a nice one to serve to guests, especially displaying it in a Japanese version of the cha he.

Garden Direct tea collection courtesy of Argo Tea.

Cupping Smith Teamaker's 1st Flush Darjeeling Tumsong

Notes on Tea - Mon, 02/20/2017 - 00:46

Technically one uses a cupping set for a comparative tasting but I the Tumsong was the only first flush Darjeeling I have in my tea stash. I do have a second flush Darjeeling, also from Smith Teamaker, the No. 17 Steinthal. The protocol I used is the one outlined in Tea: History, Terroirs, and Varieties, the textbook for my tea studies with ITEI, which I describe below.

1. Weigh the tea and add it to the infusion cup. I measured 3 grams of loose tea.
2. Pour hot water on the leaves and cover the cup. I used 200F water since the Darjeeling is a first flush and this greener.
3. Infuse the leaves for three minutes. I steeped the leaves three times: 3 minutes, 3 minutes 30 seconds, and 4 minutes.
4. Tip the covered cup into the tasting bowl. Drain completely, then flip over the cup to dislodge the leaves onto the lid.
5. Smell the infused leaves, then place the lid upside down on the infusion cup to display them.
6. Smell the liquor.
7. Sip the liquor. You can use a spoon or drink directly from the tasting bowl. I've used a spoon in the past but this time I sipped directly from the bowl. It's definitely encouraged to slurp the tea!
8. Make your notes on smell, taste, color, texture, etc. Also, enjoy the tea!

The infused leaves smelled like green stems with floral and stone fruit notes. The liquor from the first infusion was a deep honey color, amber with a sweet smell which carried through to the taste. Accompanying the sweetness was a pleasant green astringency, a thigh mouthfeel, and a lingering stone fruit taste. With a second infusion, the color of the liquor deepened but it was less sweet and fruity. The green astringency was still there though it had spun off into a dryness on the tongue and fruity film on my top row of teeth. The end note like gnawing on the pit of a stone fruit. The third and final infusion was lighter in color and thinner in flavor and texture. The green astringency was mostly gone but happily the dry fruitiness remained. I cupped this tea twice and am sharing notes from my second session. Out of a 2 ounce bag I have used approximately 6 grams so fortunately for me I have another 50 grams of this Darjeeling or at least 16 more cuppings. The fact that I performed this calculation should tell you that I am looking forward to drinking more of it.

1st Flush Darjeeling Tumsong courtesy of Smith Teamaker.

Totem Tea - Wen Shan Baozhong

Notes on Tea - Mon, 02/20/2017 - 00:44

Before I started drinking tea, I was unfamiliar with the word shan. It means mountain. In fact, before I started drinking oolong, and Taiwanese oolong specifically, shan was not a term I regularly encountered. Wenshan is a district in southern Taipei. I believe Wen Shan translates to Fist Mountain. Bao zhong, which translates to "wrapped in paper", is another term I did not encounter before drinking tea and specifically oolongs. The practice of wrapping a particular twisted oolong in paper was developed by Wang Yi Cheng, an Anxi merchant and was adopted by tea producers in Wen Shan. I don't know if modern day baozhongs are wrapped but the moniker does refer to twisted leaf oolong from Pinglin in Taipei.

I received a sample of this tea from Totem Tea and enjoyed two sessions. I used the recommended water temperature of 195F for both sessions. The suggested steep time was 60s which I followed. I failed to double subsequent steep times but my decision did not negatively affect my experience. The dry leaves were long, about 2 inches, and twisted and smelled sweet, creamy, and woody. There was an even mix of leaf and stem. The leaves were green and medium and very dark brown in color. The quickly rinsed leaves smelled floral, a bit herbaceous and woody, sweet, and creamy. The infused leaves looked and smelled like a steamed green leafy vegetable.

The average color of the liquor was a pale golden yellow. I infused the leaves five times during each session. I detected tropical fruit possibly papaya. Although the floral notes were dominant, there were contrasting savory, vegetal aromas. This tea was very easy to drink; it was smooth with a creamy, velvety texture.

Wenshan Baozhong courtesy of Totem Tea.

Blind Taste Test - Three Flat Bags of Green Tea

Notes on Tea - Mon, 02/20/2017 - 00:26

The assignment
A recent assignment for my tea course was to compare three green teas packaged in flat tea bags. One of the teas was provided by the tea school. The brands will be revealed later. My husband prepared the blind tasting for me. I will note here that I knew I would recognize one of the brands from its tea bag design. This brand is classified as a luxury brand.

The parameters for the tasting were: prepare 3 white cups to steep 3 different tea bags using exactly the same water volume (I used 6 ounces), 80 degrees Celsius (176F), and 3 minutes infusion. I was asked to describe the liquors based on color, brightness, aroma (smell), and taste. I shared the steeping and tasting process via an Instagram Story. I used a chart to record my notes which I replicated below, followed by a discussion.


The three brands of tea were: Uji No Tsuyu Sen-Cha Green Tea (#1); Sri Lanka-based Elephantea Organic Green Tea which I picked up at the Ceylon Tea Festival in Washington, DC (#2); and KEIKO Kabuse Konacha (#3). Keiko is the luxury brand I mentioned in the Assignment section. In the photograph of dissected bags below, you can quickly distinguish the Keiko bag from the bags of the other two brands. The bag material appears to be of higher quality and almost fabric-like with larger pore sizes and the top is stitched rather than folded and stapled. Considering the tea material itself, the Keiko tea is the only one that resembles green tea. The leaf material is actually green. The liquor of the Keiko tea was the cloudiest of the three teas. This is a good thing. Kabusecha teas are supposed to yield a liquor that is "clouded by a thick haze of suspended particles" (Gascoyne et al., 2014). Are you wondering about the meanings of kabuse and konacha? I was, too. Let's define them. Konacha is "the milled tea buds and small leaves that are left behind after processing species of green teas such as Sencha, Gyokuro, Kabuse, etc.". Kabuse is semi-shaded tea. Whereas Gyokuro tea is shaded for 21 days, Kabuse tea is shaded for a shorter period of time; Gascoyne et al. (2014) give an average of 12 days. So Kabuse Konacha is made from the leftover buds and leaves of processed semi-shaded tea plants. Going in reverse order, Sri Lanka is known for its black teas. The country is the fourth largest tea grower in the world! The style of tea in the Elephantea bag is reminiscent of a CTC black tea. The same is true for the Uji No Tsuyu Sen-cha but here one expects more because the company is based in Kyoto. Another consideration is that the teas were infused for 3 minutes. The long steep time was purposely selected to push the limits of each tea. The steep time recommended for the Uji No Tsuyu tea bag is 1 minute. Also, take a look at the image of the Elephantea Green Tea liquor on the company's website. It is a yellow orange.

Even as I was writing this post I was aware that this was a rather unfair comparison. These teas are not on a level playing field. I think most flat green tea bags would not have fared well against this Keiko tea bag. Brands that package their green teas in pyramidal bags might be more competitive with this Keiko tea bag. For example, Harney & Sons Japanese Sencha and Smith Teamaker No. 51 Sencha. Keiko also sells pyramidal tea bags so perhaps there's another blind taste test of green tea, and this time all of Japanese origin, in the works. If a Keiko representative is reading this post, please reach out to me.

P.S. To learn more about Kabusecha, download this Japanese Semi-Shaded Tea brochure [pdf] produced by Keiko.

P.P.S. My instructor commented that she would have liked to know if brewing instructions, organic status, and country of origin were shown in the outer packaging. In addition, she would have like to know if the inner packaging was of foil or not as foil can protect against deterioration in freshness, taste, smell, and color.

Green Defense from Tocha Tea. . . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Sun, 02/19/2017 - 16:00
Every time I look at this tea’s name — “Green Defense” — I automatically change it in my mind to “Green Defense Against The Dark Arts.” You know, a tea that Harry Potter would drink to fortify himself against mind attacks from Voldemort. Tocha Tea’s site says that this tea “stimulates your senses while supporting overall wellness.” The description is unclear about the use of the word “defense.” Is it a defense against… sickness? Sadness? Malaise? ENNUI?* * (“Ennui” is a favorite word in my very nerdy family. It’s a French term that means “existential dread” and/or “boredom with one’s Read More

Turmeric Lemon Ginger from Yerba Buena Tea Co. . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Sun, 02/19/2017 - 12:00
I try to incorporate turmeric in my diet everyday for all of the amazing health benefits, so I was so happy to try this tea. And in my opinion ginger makes everything better so I had a feeling I would love this blend. The first thing I noticed is the beautiful yellow color right away. They aren’t shy with the turmeric. As soon as i poured the hot water over the tea, I got the most wonderful smell. I could smell the lemon and the ginger and it was very soothing. This blend also has lemongrass and whole black peppercorns Read More

Dirty Girl Scout from The Necessiteas. . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Sun, 02/19/2017 - 00:00
Every January, as eggnog season ends, my mom panics and buys like 6 cartons of the stuff. Now this would be excessive for a household of eggnog drinkers and yet it is not for a family…it’s all for me. She presents them to me as if they are a gift which is really nice but then I realize I have like two weeks to finish them off or they’ll expire and be thrown out. So, it’s not the healthiest plan but January becomes the month of eggnog latte experiments This tea is my eggnog latte of the day. I love Read More

Passion Berry Jolt from Tiesta Tea. . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 02/18/2017 - 20:00
This tea is FIERCE. It’s a black tea with super-vibrant raspberry/passionfruit flavor. The tea is robust. The flavor is spiky. The flower petals are lovely. You know how Rihanna had that red hair for a while? And it was really hot and bright and worked on her? That is this tea. It’s like Rihanna, turned into a tea. It’s a fast-paced hip-hop album of a tea. This tea will not mince words with you and tell you that the dress works when it does not. This tea will not pretend to like that guy you’re dating if he’s a wasteoid. Read More

Earl Blue from 52Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 02/18/2017 - 16:00
I usually imagine earl grey tea with a little bit of a bite, the kind of proper tea that staunch old ladies sip from fine china teacups in British dramas. Once my mother sent me to an old-timey etiquette class led by a strict old woman. The tea we drank from teacups had a bite, black and tart, and a squeeze of lemon on top made my mouth pucker.   It was more palatable by the second cup with milk and sugar cubes but I always associate a bit of bite with that first cup of earl grey. Earl Blue Read More

An Early Taste of Spring with Mountain Oolong Spring. . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 02/18/2017 - 12:00
Mountain Oolong Spring from Mountain Tea Co. is truly a springtime tea.  In the spring, everything blooms and bursts into life, and you can evoke this feeling by brewing a cup of this tea in your kitchen at home.  I’ve had quite a few teas that smell like jasmine or rose, but this tea lights up with the fragrance of less typical flowers, soft and feminine like baby’s breath or lily of the valley. Putting your nose into a cup of this tea will envelop you with this relaxing, perfumey sensation. Beyond the flavor of flowers, there are nutty and Read More

Tropical Storm Warning: Coconut Blizzard – Teana Colada from Tea Geek’ery

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 02/18/2017 - 00:00
Wow look at those curls of fresh coconut!  There’s more flaky, white goodness in this tea blend than all the snow we have had in this New England winter.  Teana Colada is a simple blend with a cute name and quality ingredients: red rooibos tea and coconut chips.  Brewed hot, there is so much coconut, the buttery blend is almost savory, like butter on toast.  As it cools, the tropical notes of the coconut shine through and mingle with the nutty red rooibos.  This isn’t a true pina colada blend, as there isn’t any pineapple or fruity flavors, but it Read More

Cardamom French Toast Tea-Infused Milk Chocolate Bar from DAVIDs Tea. . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 20:00
I believe it was about a year ago that DAVIDsTEA introduced tea-infused chocolate to their store selection. Since then I have tried a few different varieties but have found them to be rather hit or miss. Plus, with the hefty price tag they boast of about $6 per chocolate bar, I find they are often not worth what I am paying. The thing is in order to make their bars unique and different from the countless chocolate offerings in their world, DAVIDsTEA has put the actual loose leaf tea into the chocolate. This sometimes works as it not only provides Read More

Cozy Comfort from Simpson & Vail. . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 17:00
Cozy Comfort? Yes, please! Whether you are looking for COZY COMFORT because it’s chilly outside or stressful in daily life I think you find something comforting in this tea! It’s called Cozy Comfort from Simpson & Vail. Black teas, organic cinnamon pieces, orange blossoms, and Black Walnut flavor makes up this flavored black tea. The loose leaf ingredients are hefty and very visible. The aroma and taste on the tongue are very satisfying, too! The black walnut flavor was totally in check. Prominent but not overdone. The cinnamon was the perfect accomplice. The orange blossoms give it a citrus slide Read More

Friday Round Up: February 12th and February 18th

Tea For Me Please - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 17:00
My tasting notes: Indonesian rolled black tea
+Anna Mariani's pairing of this Indonesian black tea with homemade olive oil challah bread and olive oil passion fruit curd sounds absolutely delicious. She got to share lunch with Melanie Halim of Harnedong Organic Tea Estate too!

Going Back to Bitaco...with Video
+Geoffrey Norman is doing a sequel month on his blog, revisiting some of his favorite gardens. He had so much to say about this Colombian grown tea that there was no choice to make wonderfully rambling videos of his thoughts.

Tea & Oranges
+Linda Gaylard drew some inspiration from Leonard Cohen's Suzanne. She paired four different teas with four different kind of oranges. The photography she took of her experience is impeccable as always.

White2Tea - Long Jing (February 2017 club)
Microshrimp's blog is one that I've always enjoyed but it's fallen a bit silent lately. It's nice to see something new pop up in my feed again this week. +White2Tea is usually known for their puerh so this post really made me sit up and take notice.

2016 Midas Touch Sheng Puer from Crimson Lotus Tea
+Charissa Gascho, otherwise known as Oolong Owl, reviewed a tea that's been on my wishlist for a while now. I don't think I've ever seen puerh compared to drinking pepto bismal. But now I want to experience it for myself.

Mint Twist Tea from The Tea Can Company

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 15:00
The Tea Can Company is a company that is fairly new-to-me and I have to say I am VERY pleased with all of their teas that I have been able to sample so far. Today I would like to share with you Mint Twist Tea from The Tea Can Company which is part of their Candy Shop Collection. Mint Twist Tea from The Tea Can Company is a delightful mix of Green Tea and tasty Peppermint that can be enjoyed year-round and is perfect for any mint lover. Ingredients include Green Tea with Peppermint Leaves and Peppermint Flavor. I’m not Read More

Blast from the past: You don’t have to break the bank to drink great tea

T Ching - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 13:00

This article was originally posted to T Ching in February of 2011.

In fact, loose-leaf tea is a screaming deal. Even though most loose-leaf teas are of much higher quality than bagged teas, they are often more economical ounce for ounce. Even the most expensive teas rarely cost more than 15 cents a cup to steep, which seems to be a well-protected secret, as people are always surprised when they see the numbers. However, the secret’s coming out, as loose-leaf tea has shown itself to be largely recession proof during the past 30 months. From an August 2010 interview with Dan Bolton, then Editor at Specialty Coffee Retailer:

“Tea sales topped $8.5 billion in 2009 and continue to grow, albeit at a pace slowed by the recession. Sales climbed by 32 percent from 2005-09, according to Tea in the U.S., a report by Packaged Facts in Rockville, Maryland. Retail share came to $5.7 billion of the total.”

Tea bags account for over 90% of all the packaged tea sold in the U.S. today. It’s important though to make the distinction within tea bags between the flat and sachet types of bags. In the flat bags, you’re not able to deliver a full leaf tea, even if it theoretically started out that way. The leaf just can’t stay intact during the tea bag manufacturing process. Most of the tea bags available contain tea leaves and dust of very low quality.

Consider what you pay per serving, buying at retail. Flat tea bags average 2 to 12 cents for an eight-ounce serving. Nylon Pyramid tea bags make it possible to steep larger-leaf teas in a bag. Premium pyramid tea bags cost 30 cents to $2 each. Lipton’s “starter” Pyramid teas, at $3.49 for 20 tea bags, cost about 20 cents a per eight-ounce serving.

Steeping loose-leaf tea from fine handpicked leaves takes more effort than dunking a tea bag, as well as a few minutes more time. Whole tea leaves need time to unfurl and infuse. And the leaves themselves need room, and an infuser.  But with a bit more effort, you can both save money and make yourself a freshly steeped cup of premium tea – with no bags, no nylon, no strings, or no staples. And the cost?  Most premium loose-leaf teas range from 8 to 15 cents a serving.

Premium loose-leaf tea even looks like a deal when compared to premium coffee.  Premium coffee beans sell for about $12 – $17 per pound. A pound of coffee beans yields about 32 servings, if you use 1 tablespoon per cup. A tablespoon of coffee weighs approx 14 grams, making the per-serving cost for coffee anywhere from 37 to 53 cents.

So, as we like to say at The Tea Spot, you can drink up and feel good about it!


The post Blast from the past: You don’t have to break the bank to drink great tea appeared first on T Ching.

A Dark Night Orange Spice Pu’erh from Plum Deluxe. . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 00:00
I’ve always been a black-tea-with-milk-and-sugar kinda girl (thanks, semester abroad in London!). Now, as the years have passed, my tastes have matured, and I’ll happily venture out to less traditional teas and more traditional preparations, but there’s something about a bold black tea paired with creamy + sweet that gets me right in my cozy, nostalgic heart. So you can imagine my bummer when I was recently put on an allergy test for to be without my beloved coconut milk (the only “milk” left that I could tolerate) for thirty days. SOB. As there’s a silver lining to every cloud, Read More

Laoshan Black from Verdant Tea. . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 02/16/2017 - 20:00
I haven’t had this tea in the longest time and while it used to be one of my favorites, I had moved on for a while and decided to try other black teas. I found this one while digging around in my collection and want to see if it still holds the same flavors I remember. The black tea leaves are incredibly pretty – silvery, a charcoal black. This scent is of cocoa and… possibly cardboard? While it doesn’t sound too appealing, this is definitely the scent I remember. Sipping… this is definitely bittersweet chocolate I’m tasting. The background offers Read More
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