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Ayurvedic Calming Tea from Tea of Life

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 10/11/2014 - 16:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Learn more about Tea of Life and Amazon Teas here.

About Tea of Life Ayurvedic Collection:

The word “Ayurveda” is derived from two words – “Ayus” meaning life and “Veda” meaning ‘knowledge’ or ‘science’.  So the literal meaning of the word Ayurveda is ‘The Science of Life.’

Life or Ayus, according to Ayurveda, is a combination of senses, mind, body and soul.  So Ayurveda does not just limit itself to the body or physical symptoms, but also provides comprehensive knowledge about spiritual, mental and emotional health.  

The traditional healing system of Ayurveda is based on a theory of balance between the body (physical), the soul (spiritual) and the mind (psychological).  


Green Tea with Asparagus, Lemongrass, Winter Cherry, Cardamom and Jasmine flavors.

Taster’s Review:

Well, I had a stressful couple of days, so I could use some “calm.”  I’m hoping this Ayurvedic Calming Tea from Tea of Life will grant me some!

As I brewed this tea, I tried to recall if I had ever tried a tea with asparagus in it before.  I can’t say that I have.  That doesn’t mean that I haven’t, just that if I have I can’t recall and I would think that with as unusual a tea ingredient that asparagus is, I think I would have remembered!

To brew this tea, I went with my “go to” green tea parameters.  For a green tea, I typically go with a temperature of 170° – 180° Fahrenheit.  I went with 175°F for this tea, and I steeped the teabag in about 6 ounces of water for 2 minutes.

Going into my initial sip, I was a little apprehensive because I generally am with teas that claim to offer “functional” benefits like those that are offered in Tea of Life’s Ayurvedic line.  Now, granted, having tried three other teas from this line and having experienced some true benefits from those teas, I do not doubt that the teas work as they claim to.  I just tend to associate “functional” teas with “medicinal tasting” teas and there is also a skeptical side of me that seems to want to step in and question the validity of the Ayurvedic teas.  That said, teas (other than stimulating black teas) tend to calm me to a certain extent.

OK, so this doesn’t taste terrible.  It’s actually tasty.  I don’t know if I’m actually tasting asparagus or if that ingredient sort of melds into the vegetal quality of the green tea, but I am noticing that the “green” taste of this cup seems to be enhanced somewhat.

This does have a certain herbaceous/medicinal flavor which I attribute primarily to the Winter Cherry.  Fortunately, the other ingredients in this tea balance out that herbaceous tone, and I especially like the light citrus-y note from the lemongrass and the warm note from the cardamom.  I don’t taste much from the jasmine at all.

Overall, this is not a bad drink and I do feel a little calmer than when I began to brew it.  It does have a relaxing quality to it.

Lady Londonderry from English Tea Store

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 10/11/2014 - 03:59

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  English Tea Store

Tea Description:

Our Lady Londonderry Tea is a delightful afternoon tea with a malty floral flavor and hints of strawberry and lemon. This tea is made from black tea, dried orange, daisy white, and natural flavors. This tea is delicious hot or iced, and either way, your family and guests will feel like royalty!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Ah … this is nice!

The black tea base is so smooth and malty.  I like that I’m getting a rather rich, malty taste but it’s not an overly assertive tea.  It truly is a perfect afternoon tea.  Not a strong or hefty cup of tea that you need in the morning, but a pleasantly smooth cup – an ideal tea to brew for guests to make them feel welcome.

There are pleasant floral notes that are soft and add a touch of femininity to the cup.  The notes of strawberry and citrus are delicate.  I like it when I find flavored teas like this – where the flavoring is strong enough to be tasted but not so strong that they’re overwhelming the flavors of the tea.

To brew this tea, I had just enough of it in the sampling that I received from a friend to brew in my Kati Tumbler.  I put the loose leaf into the basket of the Kati and added boiling water to the tumbler and let it steep for 3 minutes.

The result is a really enjoyable cup that isn’t overly astringent.  I feel a slight dryness toward the end of the sip.  The sip starts out smooth and sweet with light floral notes.  Then I start to pick up on the strawberry and the strawberry is a whisper of a flavor but it lingers well into the aftertaste where I experience that berry tingle.  The lemon is a light “brightness” that weaves its way throughout the sip and it’s a very uplifting flavor.

Very nice, indeed!


The Devotea - Fri, 10/10/2014 - 20:31
Our personal circumstances changed rapidly over the last few months. We didn’t like what we were doing in the UK for all sorts of reasons, and we wrestled with whether to stay on in the UK and do something else, or leave and come back to Australia. The decision was made in the middle of […]

White Pear Tea from Simple Loose Leaf

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 10/10/2014 - 16:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  White

Learn more about Simple Loose Leaf here.

Tea Description:

Premium white tea from Fujian region of China infused with the taste of ripe pears. Warm and sugary aroma, like a freshly baked pear, with a pear skin crisp finish. Wonderfully smooth and rounded, perfect hot or iced.

Ingredients: White Tea, Apple Pieces, Natural Pear Flavor

Learn more about this tea here.

Learn more about Simple Loose Leaf’s Co-Op program here.

Taster’s Review:

Recently, Simple Loose Leaf announced some changes to their program.  This month’s teas will be the last of the “Selection Club” teas and next month is their flagship month of their new (and improved!) Co-Op program/membership.

How this plan will work (or at least, how I’ve been made to understand that it will work!) is this:

  • Every month, you receive a box of samples of the latest teas that have been added to the Simple Loose Leaf store.  Each monthly box will contain somewhere between 4 – 6 teas and these will be sample size (1/4 of an ounce.  I like that size!)
  • If you like what you taste, you can shop with Simple Loose Leaf to receive a full-sized package of the tea at a 50% discount off of Simple Loose Leaf’s regular retail prices.  (That is to say that all your purchases outside of the sampler box each month will be sold to members at a 50% discount!  I like that!)
  • The membership price is $15/month and you can cancel at any time.  There’s no contract or requirement outside of the $15/month.  No annual fees.  (Hey, that’s better than the deal I’ve got going with my cell phone!  And I like tea better than I like my cell phone.)
  • You can also buy gift memberships.  (Nice gift!)
  • To join or learn more, click here.

I’m personally really excited at this new plan because I’m a taster.  I like the new sampler size of the teas that will be sent each month as part of the subscription.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I loved their Selection Club, and this month’s Selection Club box was filled with many exciting tea selections.  Like this White Pear Tea.  It’s awesome!

By the appearance of the dry leaf, I would speculate that the base used for this tea is a Shou Mei base.  The leaf looks like other Shou Mei teas that I’ve had and among the tea leaves are chunks of dried apple.

Why dried apple?  Well, I don’t know for sure but here’s what I think (and my opinion is based on my experiences that I’ve had as a tea blender):  the dried fruit that is added to a tea like this adds relatively little flavor to the brewed tea and basically the purpose of the dried fruit is not to “flavor” the tea but to add some visual appeal to it.  And dried apple is much easier to find than dried pear and apple and pear look very much alike.  In my experiences with blending teas, dried apple adds very little to the overall flavor of the brewed tea.  It might add a delicate sweetness to the cup but not a lot of true apple flavor.

To brew this tea, I grabbed my Kati brewing system and scooped out a heaping bamboo scoop into the basket of the Kati and then I added just a wee bit more tea leaf.  Not quite a half a scoop … not even quite a fourth of a scoop.  Just a wee bit.  Then I heated the water to a low temperature (170°F) and poured the water into the tumbler and let the tea steep for 4 minutes.

The brewed liquid has a really delightful aroma.  It smells like warm pear with delicate notes of white tea.  It’s a sweet, fruity and really quite delicious fragrance!

The flavor tastes as good as the aroma!  The white tea is a delicate flavor:  sweet and hay-like.  It’s smooth, not bitter and if there’s any astringency to this, I’m having a hard time finding it!  Maybe a twinge or two of pucker in my cheeks at the very end of the sip.  It’s a very flavorful white tea.

The pear is also quite flavorful and I’m happy to say that it has an authentic pear-like flavor.  It reminds me of the flavor of a baked or poached pear (not the spice part but the sweet, soft part of the fruit).

Having tried quite a few pear teas in the past and occasionally being disappointed by the pear flavoring, I am happy to say that this has a really amazing pear flavor.  If you’re looking for a really good pear tea – this is it!

Friday Round Up - October 5th through October 11th

Tea For Me Please - Fri, 10/10/2014 - 16:00
NW Tea Festival 2014
The Northwest Tea Festival was definitely the place to be last weekend. I live on the opposite coast but lived vicariously through my fellow tea lovers. Steph's Cup of Tea shared her experience as a speaker.

A Tealet Potlock
+Geoffrey Norman told the tale of a backyard gathering featuring team +Tealet and the teas of +Teaneer Suresh. The west coast kids have all of the fun! It sounded like an absolute blast and his description of the Nilgiri Puerh definitely has me intrigued.

What-Cha's Kenyan Purple Bud Silver Needle
Speaking of unusual teas, my friends over at +Tea DB drink a ton of puerh and oolong on their show so it was interesting to see a change of pace this week. The Kenyan tea that I've had myself has been a mixed bag but it definitely seems like we'll see some really cool things from this region in the future.

Tea Drinker: Souheki Mori
+Jason Walker of +Walker Tea Review wrote a feature on one of my favorite local tea people. I lovr that he kept it simple, letting her answers stand on their own. You might remember that I wrote about Souheki's Chari-T class last year.

The Romantic Side of Tea or the Microsociology of Tea
I recently discovered the blog of tea sommelier Gabriela Prieto. Her post on the romantic side of tea echoes many of my own sentiments about that wonderful leaf.
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Back Seven: On tea

T Ching - Fri, 10/10/2014 - 12:03

Venus her myrtle, Phoebus has her bays;
Tea both excels, which she vouchsafes to praise.
The best of Queens, and best of herbs, we owe
To that bold nation, which the way did show
To the fair region where the sun doth rise,
Whose rich productions we so justly prize.
The Muse’s friend, tea does our fancy aid,
Repress those vapors which the head invade,
And keep the palace of the soul serene,
Fit on her birthday to salute the Queen.

Edmund Waller


This poem was first published on T Ching November 23, 2007.

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The post Back Seven: On tea appeared first on T Ching.

Assam 2nd Flush 2014 Green Tea from What-Cha Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 10/10/2014 - 03:59

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  What-Cha Tea

Tea Description:

A brilliant green tea with a wonderful mango aroma, fruity taste and citrus finish. Perfect as an ‘everyday’ green tea.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

The dry leaf of this tea has the most amazing aroma!  So fruity, I almost thought it was a blended/flavored tea!  It really does have a mango-y scent and it is a very strong fragrance.  Once brewed, the scent does soften but there are still distinct fruit notes.

To brew this tea, I went with a slightly lower temperature – 175°F instead of 180°F – because when I see “Assam” my mind automatically thinks to adjust the temperature slightly.  Assam is a little more temperamental than other teas, it seems, and I find that I experience less bitterness from Assam when I use a slightly lower temperature.  I steeped it for 2 minutes.  The liquid produced is quite pale, looking almost like a white tea rather than a green.

But there is still plenty of flavor!

The sip starts out quite light.  Delicate.  But by mid-sip, the palate starts picking up on some strong flavors.  I taste the fruity notes that are promised in the above description and I’m also experiencing the citrus finish.  This citrus finish lingers long in the aftertaste.  A minute later and I’m still tasting bright citrus flavors.

I like how the flavors build with this tea.  It starts out very soft.  Again, I must compare it to a white tea.  It’s delicate like that at first.  But just before mid-sip, the flavors are developing.  I first pick up on a slight vegetal note and soon these vegetative flavors are washed over by the sweet fruity notes.  The finish is tangy with citrus.  It’s a very light and rewarding taste.  Soothing.  Calming.

The leaves looked to me like they wanted to treat me to another cup of tea, so I resteeped them.  The second infusion was not as delicate as the first.  Much more flavor right up front.  Notes of vegetation peek through right at the start and then the fruit notes come on strong.  The citrus notes at the finish are not quite as sharp, they are softer but the tangy flavor is still present.

It would be difficult for me to decide which infusion I preferred.  I liked the delicate approach of the first cup, but the second cup was so flavorful.  Both were wonderful so I highly recommend infusing these leaves at least twice!

I haven’t tried as many green Assam teas as I would like to so trying this Assam Second Flush from What-Cha is a real treat for me!  And it’s not just a treat because it’s something a little out of the norm for me, but it’s also a treat because it’s yet another amazing tea from this company.  I’m really impressed by them!

Avalon Blend Black Tea from The Secret Garden Tea Company

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 16:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  The Secret Garden Tea Co.

Tea Description:

A lovely mix of Vanilla, Bergamot, and Rose Petals in honor of Avalon Centre!

Ingredients: Black tea, rose petals, natural flavors.

Learn more about this blend here.

Taster’s Review:

This tea smells heavenly!  The dry leaf has a strong bergamot fragrance that is tempered slightly by the presence of sweet vanilla.  I don’t smell much from the rose in the blend, but then, with the bergamot as strong as it is, I wasn’t surprised.

The dry leaf is as pretty to the eye as it is to the nose too.  Black tea leaves with cornflower petals and rose petals strewn throughout the blend.  To brew this tea, I used my Breville One Touch Tea Maker.  I measured 2 bamboo scoops into the basket of the tea maker and then poured in 500ml of water and set the temperature for boiling (212°F) and the timer for 2 1/2 minutes.

The brewed tea smells like a delightful combination of vanilla and bergamot with notes of black tea.  Yummy!

And it is yummy.  This is a tasty Earl Grey Creme type tea but with a hint of rose that weaves its way in and out of the sip.  The rose is quite delicate, but, it is discernible (especially if you slurp the sip to aerate the tea over your palate).

The black tea is a brisk flavor in the background.  It isn’t too aggressive a flavor, but it is strong enough to hold its own with the other flavors that are playing in the foreground.  I would categorize this as a medium-bodied black tea base, I suspect it’s a Ceylon.  It’s flavorful and supports the bergamot and vanilla nicely.  It has a dry, moderate astringency toward the tail.

There is a good balance between the flavors of bergamot and vanilla.  The bergamot is tangy and bright.  The vanilla softens the sharpness of the bergamot and the two flavors together create a delightful caramel-y flavor.  It is sweet, a little tart and tangy and absolutely lovely.

This is the first tea that I’ve tried from The Secret Garden and I think we’re off to a good start with this blend.  I really pleasant twist on an Earl Grey Creme!  And when I saw that this was a blend created in honor of the Avalon Centre, I decided to google Avalon Centre … and I hope I got the right place!  I have great respect for a company when it takes the time to recognize services like the Avalon Centre.  It makes me appreciate this tea and this company even more!

Adagio Teas Yunnan Pu Eerh Gold

Tea For Me Please - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 16:00
Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: brown, large and twisted
Ingredients: puerh tea
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: Teavana Perfect Steeper
Liquor: very dark brown

This tea is part of +Adagio Teas' Masters Collection. The leaves were loose rather than compressed and had very different appearance than I had been expecting. They were mostly whole and had a needle-like shape. It's unusual to see that in a cooked puerh. The taste was very earthy but mellow and smooth at the same time. Top soil after a spring rain and dark roasted coffee both came to mind. There was hardly any astringency, even when it was accidentally over steeped on the second round (oops!). A tea like this would usually have some unpleasant fishiness but there wasn't any to be found. Puerh can be really scary for beginners and this one is just non-offensive enough to be a great starting point. That being said, it is very expensive for what you get. If you have the budget (or a gift certificate to burn through) then I'd say go for it. A sample is $12 and will get you about ten cups of tea.

Yunnan Pu Erh Gold sample provided by Adagio Teas.
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Tea across the time zones!

T Ching - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 12:01

Last December, my eighty-three year old husband, Rafe, received the news that the reason behind his breathing difficulties was a “structure” between the aortic and mitral valves of his heart.   Neither the cardiologist nor the radiologist was willing to call it a “growth,” or, heaven forbid, a “tumor,” because of the dire connotations of those words.  The structure hadn’t been there before, but there it was, acting just like the dam on the Yangtze River as far as his stamina was concerned.

At 83 years of age, a man has many opportunities to accept things, to compromise, to “live with (or without) that.”  Life’s little indignities make their visits one-by-one:  lifting objects, getting down on the floor to retrieve dropped items, opening bottles of medication, eating heavy foods – all have their hidden costs.  Even though these consequences of aging had each made their visits – and most decided to stay, like an unpleasant uncle – this breathing difficulty was different:  it had come on rather suddenly, and experts predicted that it would get worse.  Much worse – and probably quite soon.

The two options came down to “live with it,” or surgery.  Because walking, hiking and keeping our rustic cottage operating are our primary recreations, severe shortness of breath was not something to determine to live with.  When we are not recreating in that active fashion, we are rejuvenating over multiple pots of tea, good books, music, or movies.

Open-heart surgery is serious.  This surgery would involve replacing the aortic and mitral valves, removing the structure, and bypassing any clogged arteries discovered during surgery.  To get to the repair site, the surgeon saws through the sternum and separates the ribs.  Because Rafe had open-heart surgery in 2010, surgery would be more complicated, with a longer hospital stay, longer rehabilitation, and longer recovery.

While agonizing over the decision, Rafe celebrated his 84th birthday with multiple cups of Doke Black Fusion and a walk on the Klickitat River.  Struggling to walk just a mile back to the car, we determined that surgery was the only answer.  A date was set two months hence.  We cherished our morning ritual of several cups of tea – Yunnan Gold, Hatialli, Rohini, Doke Black Fusion – and animated conversation.

As the date approached, so did a serious case of the “what-ifs.”  (What-if the irrigation goes out?  What if he . . . ?)  As managing editor of T Ching, I worried that I would be unable to format and schedule posts during the time Rafe was in Intensive Care in a hospital 65 miles west of home.  In my monthly reminder notice to contributors, I shared the upcoming surgery as explanation for a new posting schedule.  The response from our contributors was heartwarming!  Many sent encouraging messages; one sent in multiple posts to use as needed; almost all beat the deadline for post publication.  It was an outpouring of kindness.

The most touching show of support was the gift of tea from Rajiv and Vivek Lochan.  Within hours of reading my e-mail, Vivek e-mailed me to inform me that he and his father decided to send a parcel of Doke Black Fusion to help with the anticipation of surgery, the surgery itself, and recovery from surgery.

Some five days later, a generous parcel from India was on my doorstep.  Rafe and I enjoyed it for several days before he went into hospital, and he was sipping his first cup less than 48 hours after surgery!  We enjoyed the tea through his first weeks back home.   There is a lovely spiritual quality that comes through this tea gift from a dozen time zones away. The empathy of tea transcends time and space.  Thank you.

Rafe is well into cardiac rehabilitation, walking regularly, and cherishing his morning cups of tea.

This post was first published by Lochan Tea Limited and reprinted here with permission.

Images provided by contributor.

The post Tea across the time zones! appeared first on T Ching.

Chocolate Orange Flavored Honeybush from 52Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 03:59

Tisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Honeybush

Where to Buy:  52Teas

Tisane Description:

Caffeine-free organic honeybush blended with organic cacao nibs, freeze-dried orange sections, marigold petals and organic chocolate and orange flavors. I was a bit reluctant to offer a chocolate tea outside of traditional hot tea drinking weather, but one of my helper elves insisted there is no wrong time to make a chocolate tea. After tasting this delicious blend, I have to say I totally agree with her.

Learn more about this tisane here.

Learn more about 52Teas’ subscriptions here.

Taster’s Review:

I could smell the orange as soon as I opened the pouch!  The chocolate notes are less apparent than the orange but then again … oranges are a bit more fragrant than a bar of chocolate.  The dry leaf has a lot of petals (these don’t really affect the flavor) and little chunks of cacao nib and dried oranges combined with the oxidized organic honeybush leaves.

When I brew honeybush (or it’s South African “cousin” rooibos), I usually brew it in my Breville One-Touch tea maker and that’s how I brewed this.  I measured out 3 bamboo scoops of the tisane and put it in the basket of the tea maker, and then I poured in freshly filtered water up to the 500ml mark.  I set the settings to 195°F and 10 minutes and then I left it alone to do its thing.  That’s what I love so much about the One-Touch … you just put the tea and water into it, set the settings and the tea maker does the rest!  Ten minutes later, I had a pot of Chocolate Orange flavored Honeybush!

The orange notes are a little softer in the brewed liquid, and I can smell notes of chocolate as well as notes of honeybush.  It smells sweet, orange-y, chocolate-y and nutty.

The flavor is similar to the fragrance.  The sip starts with sweet, orange-y flavors.  Then I notice the nutty, honeyed flavor of the honeybush and notes of chocolate.  I wish that the chocolate notes were stronger – but if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, that wish should come as no surprise to you.  I always want more chocolate.  More chocolate = better.  Always.

As it is though, I feel that the chocolate notes here are lacking.  The orange is such an abundant flavor and it seems to overwhelm the chocolate a bit.

Oh, it’s still quite a tasty blend, but this is definitely more orange than it is chocolate.  I like how the honeybush melds with these flavors – the nutty, earthy notes of the honeybush work well with the richness of the cacao notes and the sunny notes of orange.

It’s a sweet, dessert-y type of tea, and because it’s naturally caffeine free, this would be a great late night snack for those who are looking for something sweet but don’t want to indulge.  This is guilt free sipping!

Lavender Cancer Fighting Tea from Georgia Tea Company

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 16:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  White & Green Teas & Rooibos

Where to Buy:  Georgia Tea Company

Tea Description:

Our signature blend, designed to boost the immune system and helps fight cancer. Boosts interferon production to help the body fight off infection while going through chemotherapy. Contains high concentrations of Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Made with only the best white, green and rooibos teas.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This Lavender Cander Fighting Tea has a lot going on:  it’s a white tea, a green tea, a rooibos and an herbal.  So to brew it, I decided on a fairly low temperature (I went with 175°F) and steeped it for 3 minutes.  I’m happy with the results!

This is tasty!  It has a really lovely flavor!   The lavender is strong enough to be a lingering presence throughout the sip, but it isn’t overpowering.  Lavender is one of those flowers that when overdone, it imparts a soapy or perfume-y flavor to the tea.  That didn’t happen here.  The lavender is sweet and quite wonderful here, and I love the way it melds with the blueberry flavor.  This is not a flavor combination I would have thought much about before trying this tea, but the fruit and the flower are quite compatible.

The tea has been nicely crafted, because I can taste each of the components and the way it has been blended, it would seem that the best of each ingredient is captured.  It tastes quite nice.  I get a sweet, nutty flavor from the rooibos without that sometimes funky, sour-wood kind of flavor.  I taste a light freshness and lightly brothy texture from the green and white teas.  I’m getting a lovely note of lavender and the blueberry is sweet and juicy.  The currant adds just a hint of tartness to bring some balance to the cup.

The way the green and white tea come through with the floral notes of lavender and whispers of rose evokes thoughts of walking through a garden – the taste of the air as a gentle breeze carries the essences of the flowers and surrounds the garden with it’s soft perfume.  It’s quite enjoyable.

This tea has been crafted to be help prevent cancer.  Now, I’m not a doctor nor do I pretend to be or claim to have all the answers when it comes to tea’s health benefits and how it helps to fight cancer/prevent cancer.  I don’t really even know if it does.  I’ve heard that it does.  I don’t drink tea because it’s a healthy drink, I drink it because I enjoy it.  But, if these ingredients also offer me some health benefits, then why not drink something that is both tasty and healthy?

Some Much Needed Tea Toys

Tea For Me Please - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 16:00
A few weeks ago eBay had an issue where almost everyone was locked out of their system. As frustrating as it was at the time, I was happy to find a coupon in my inbox for $15. Of course my first thought was to pick up some long needed tea tools. Although I've been gongfu-ing my tea for a while, there are a few essentials that I never managed to pick up. How is it that I've never owned a puerh knife? Dragon Tea House is one of my go to vendors for inexpensive but decent quality teaware. I picked up a puerh knife, bamboo tongs and a cleaning cloth. My order with shipping came to just over $16 so I only paid a few bucks for everything. My non-tea friends have been fairly impressed as they didn't know that tea required weapons. :)

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Tea Drinker: Souheki Mori

Walker Tea Review - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 13:30
 I was sorely tempted to prod Souheki for longer, fuller answers to my questions about the value of the Japanese tea ceremony. Upon reflection, however, I thought it better to leave her responses as they were – simple, straightforward, but full of meaning. There was something about the brevity of the answers that reflected the […]

Global Tea Hut: October gongfu brewing tips

T Ching - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 12:05

Have you ever considered how dramatic an effect the shape of your pot and cups is having on your tea? In this post, we would like to encourage you to experiment with different shaped pots and cups. If you have an Yixing collection, now is the perfect time to try out your various pots with tea. If you already have your pots devoted to certain kinds of teas, you could try just one brew without too much of an effect, or perhaps leave those pots out of your experiment.

You may find that taller and thicker pots with high profiles are better for darker teas, especially red teas. Smaller, rounder pots are more universal, but typically better for balled Oolongs or fine green teas. Flatter pots with larger openings are ideal for striped Oolongs like Wuyi Cliff tea or Dancong teas. The shape and thickness of the pot will influence the tea. Puerh, for example, is often compressed and is therefore usually better brewed in a larger pot with room enough for the chunks to open completely. That however might require you to use a pitcher if the group is small, so you may want to have a smaller pot for Puerh and just be sure to break the tea up a bit more, if possible.

As with pots, the shape, thickness and height of the cup has as great an influence on tea as the material it is made of. Tulip-shaped cups are ideal for gongfu tea. As with Yixing, the older the cup the better. With Puerh and aged teas, we take large drinks and it is nice to have a large and full cup when drinking them. More fragrant teas, like Oolongs or green teas, are much better sipped in as small an amount as possible. For that reason, these teas are better drunk from as small of cups as possible. Originally, gongfu tea developed in conjunction with Oolong teas so the first gongfu cups were very, very small—thimble-sized! (Try sipping an Oolong in as small of a sip as possible and notice the difference.) Also, finer, more fragrant teas are better in thinner cups that barely leave an impression on the lips, adding to their ethereal qualities, while deeper and richer teas, like Puerh, can be drunk from thicker cups, which can lend the tea greater substance.

As an experiment, try pouring the same tea into many different sizes and shapes of cups, and an old one (if available). Try going back and forth rather than drinking each cup to the bottom. What is the difference? If you have access to some Yixing pots, you might want to take a small amount of tea, weighed for accuracy (say two grams) and put it into two differently shaped pots, and then pour the tea liquor into identical cups. What difference did the shape of the pot make?

Try experimenting with different teaware to improve your sensitivity and brewing skills. As your sensitivity is heightened, you will begin to notice all kinds of areas in which your relationship to tea can be improved. Gongfu tea is about respecting the tea, and wanting to brew it with mastery so that it can reach its greatest potential in the brewing.

October gongfu brewing tips” was written by Wu De and originally appeared in the October, 2012 issue. Global Tea Hut has generously granted permission to T Ching to publish past articles from their publication each week.  These appear on Wednesdays.

Loading image from T Ching archives.  Post images are used with permission from Global Tea Hut.

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A ‘Vampire Lemonade’ Custom Blend Tea from Adagio Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 03:59

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  White Tea & Herbals

Where to Buy:  Adagio Teas

Tea Description:

Blood orange tisane outshines white tangerine (20 percent) and lemon grass (20 percent) in this delicious, refreshing blend. Try it iced for a homage to summer, or drink it hot to reminisce on winter days.

A Carolynne Keenan Custom Blend.

Learn more about this custom blend here.

Find more Carolynne Keenan blends here.

Taster’s Review:

I steeped this tea at 190°F for 5 minutes and even with that short a steep time, the liquid looks super dark ruby red (like hibiscus) and the texture is thicker than I hoped for.  Too much hibiscus in this!

So I decided to let it cool for a while and see how it would fair as an iced drink because as a hot tea, I found the hibiscus to be too overpowering for me to enjoy it.  As the tea cools, I can pick up on some of the blood orange, tangerine and lemon-y notes from the lemongrass.  The hibiscus enhances the tartness of these fruit flavors which is nice.  I’m not usually a big fan of tart-y beverages but when it’s “lemonade” a bit of tart is OK.

I don’t taste a lot of white tea.  This tastes more like a citrus-y punch than it does a tea.  Which is OK I suppose but I’m more of a tea drinker than a citrus punch drinker.

Overall, this isn’t my favorite tea from Carolynne Keenan’s collection of custom tea blends with Adagio Teas.  I think that if there was a little less hibiscus and more of the fruity flavors, this would be better.  I would also prefer it if it tasted more like tea than like hibiscus.  Then again, you know how I feel about hibiscus.  Not a bad drink, just not my favorite.

ShanLinXi Highest Mountain Oolong Tea from Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 10/07/2014 - 16:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company

Tea Description: 

This tea is a premium GaoShanCha. The special reserve teas are grown at very high elevations and take longer to grow. They take their time growing and develop a deeper, fuller flavor. This tea has a heavy liquor, it’s not dry at all or bitter. It’s very clean and refreshing. Explore this tea slowly with many infusions and you might catch such notes as butterscotch. We recommend brewing this tea gongfu style. Like our other teas, this tea is expertly grown, hand-picked, hand-processed and vacuum packed at the source!  Only our face-to-face sourcing directly with farmers insures you premium quality!  

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Wow!  This is an amazing tea!

The aroma of the dry leaf is intense.  It has a strong, sweetly floral fragrance.  The brewed liquid smells much softer, but I’m still able to pick up on those lovely notes of flower as well as hints of fruit.

To brew this tea, I grabbed my trusty gaiwan and measured out a little less than a bamboo scoop into the bowl of the vessel.  Because of the intense fragrance, I felt comfortable using a little less leaf than I usually would and after taking my first sip, I know I made the right call.  I use my instincts a lot when it comes to tea and more often than not, they have not let me down.

I performed a quick rinse (a 15 second infusion that is strained and discarded) and then infused the leaves for 45 seconds.  I strained the tea into a teacup and infused the leaves a second time, this time for 1 minute.  I strained the tea of the second infusion into the same teacup; hence what I am enjoying now is the combined first and second infusions.

And it is gooooood!

I drink a lot of tea.  And I’ve been drinking a lot of tea for many years.  For quite a few of those years, I’ve been writing about tea and before that time, I was creating my own tea blends.  So, I feel comfortable in saying that I’m knowledgeable about tea.  However, I certainly don’t consider myself a tea expert.  I think I could be drinking tea and writing about it for double the time that I have and I’m pretty confident that there is still a great deal that I don’t know about tea.  Tea is such a vast and somewhat mysterious subject.  Perhaps that’s why it keeps me intrigued.

And the reason I bring that up is this:  I am finding myself wondering how closely related are a ShanLinXi Oolong Tea (like this tea that I’m drinking) and an AliShan Oolong Tea?  If anyone out there has some knowledge they’d like to share with me, I’d really appreciate comments in the comment section.

In the meantime, let me tell you about what I’m experiencing with this tea.

The above description suggests notes of butterscotch.  And YES … I taste butterscotch!  I couldn’t believe it at first.  At first, I thought that my mind was playing tricks on me.  But no.  This tea has a lusciously sweet, delectable butterscotch-y taste to it.  I don’t often experience a caramel-y/butterscotch-esque note to an Oolong like this so I find myself amazed by this tea.

Sweet.  Yes, deliciously so.  Smooth.  No bitterness whatsoever.  No astringency.  No dryness at the tail.  No tangy sensation.  Just smooth from start to finish.  When I take a sip, It’s almost as if I have one of those yummy butterscotch candies in my mouth and it’s melting over my palate.

Once my palate became accustomed to the delightful sweetness of the tea, I started to pick up on notes of flower.  These are mere whispers of flower and the creaminess of the tea softens what sharpness the floral notes might bring to the cup.  I am also picking up on delicate notes of spice that complement the butterscotch notes.

For my second cup, I added 15 seconds onto each subsequent infusion and combined infusions 3 and 4.  This cup is less butterscotch-y than the first.  Oh sure, I still taste some of those delectably sweet notes.  The cup is still creamy and sweet, but I find that the distinct butterscotch has softened somewhat to allow my palate to experience the floral notes that were in the background in the first cup.  I like the way the butterscotch and flowery flavors play together on the palate.  It’s a really unique and delightful experience.

As I said earlier, I’ve been drinking tea for a long time but I don’t think I’ve experienced an Oolong quite like this.

Later infusions proved to be very enjoyable as well.  The flavor kept going strong with each infusion – I managed eight delicious infusions!  I found that with each cup, the creaminess softened somewhat from what i experienced in that first amazing cup and it was my favorite of the four cups I drank from these leaves.  But the three subsequent cups were quite lovely as well and I enjoyed discovering the layers of flavor that this ShanLinXi had to offer.

If you’re an Oolong lover, this tea should be a MUST TRY on your list.  Any tea drinker should try this, it’s an incredible tea!

On The Daily Tea: Tea Tutorial - Oolong

Tea For Me Please - Tue, 10/07/2014 - 16:00
My latest piece for +The Daily Tea is all about my favorite type of tea, oolong. It was definitely a challenge summarizing the largest category in just one short article. Do you have any oolong brewing tips? Let us know about them in the comments over there! Check it out here:
Tea Tutorial - Oolong{ "@context" : "http://schema.org", "@type" : "Review", "name" : "title", "author" : { "@type" : "Person", "name" : "Nicole Martin" }, "datePublished" : "date", "image" : "image url", "itemReviewed" : "item", "reviewBody" : "text", "url" : "http://www.teaformeplease.com" : { "@type" : "Organization", "name" : "Tea for Me Please" } }

By-the-cup commercial brewers – here they come!

T Ching - Tue, 10/07/2014 - 12:04

It went something like this:  The Affinitea, the Teapresso, the SteamPunk, the BKon, the Trifecta, and now several more on the way. From big companies to small – not necessarily in chronological order – but close.

All geared toward the commercial cafe market, it seems. All put the tea in – and after about a minute, give or take – out comes tea brewed by the cup.  And, all hoping theirs will be the niche leader.

Before we knew of any but the Affinitea and Teapresso – which came late 1990’s/early 2000-ish, we got into the loose tea retail world. Our business worked with loose teas and herbals for long hours – six days a week – in a cafe venue and learned the daily realities of brewing and serving loose leaf tea to go ‘hands on/feet on floor’.

The realities are also associated with common problems in a retail setting.  Depending on the venue or need: time is a reality/problem; consistency is a reality/problem; clean-up is a reality/problem.  I know there are those here who will disagree with me on some, or all of those realities. But, to us, they were realities we had to deal with on a daily basis.  In a venue which offered tea to go, already brewed, it was necessary that the cup arrive without bag or sachet remaining in the cup. Leaving the customer to time the brew and dispose of the ‘sloppy wet casing’ themselves was not going to result in repeat business.

Venues which hand the customer the cup with a bag or sachet still steeping away inside leave the time issue to the customer, which causes the taste consistency problem.  It also means that the vendor is limited in what teas can be served: bags and sachets just cannot work satisfactorily with tightly wound or long-leaf teas like Formosa oolong, for example. In my opinion, when space to unfurl adequately is an issue, the brew cannot achieve its potential.   Disagree?  Fine, we agree to disagree.

Then, there was the cleaning problem.  Wet leaves sticking to filters and the inside of pots or brewing vessels are not a big deal when you make a few cups of tea a day. But when you make many, many cups per hour . . . they become a problem.  And cleanliness/sanitation issues became apparent quickly. Our health department instructed us that we should put the used, wet leaves in a Cadco (a container with a tightly closing lid).  We obeyed.  We saw something happening: tiny gnat-like flying creatures arrived and gathered ’round the Cadco, loving wet tea leaves.  It wasn’t working.  We came up with a second ‘leaf sink’ in the clean-up area, with a large strainer for disposing the leaves – which then evolved into a problem of keeping the strainer and stainless steel sink free of yuck.  Oh yes, we lived with the problems.  And we had to solve them.

That’s the story of how we came to develop our own commercial loose tea brewing appliance.  Most of the tea brewers we’ve seen were developed by companies other than tea companies. Most are manufacturers of coffee appliances, or come from a retail coffee-house background.  Although coffee and tea are lumped together in retail venues, the science of brewing a leaf and a bean are absolutely different.

When you haven’t lived retail tea service six days a week for half a decade, your outlook on how to deal with loose tea service is bound to be different.   In developing our appliance, we had to address all the realities/problems:  time, quality, consistency, and clean-up.  And, over time, we were not considering only brewing time, but set-up/settings, tweaking, cleaning.

Our appliance isn’t a sexy beauty, it’s a workhorse.  Put simply, our goal was one min, small space, no mess, no waste, best taste and the ability to brew by the cup, in multiples.  We have had the technology taste-tested by some of the best palates in the industry, including the founder of a specialty tea organization and two large loose tea company founders/CEO’s.  Comment from one: “I don’t know how, but you cracked the code.”  Another offered to partner with us at the upcoming World Tea Expo. Bottom line . . . we brewed a Formosa oolong (brought by one expert from his own company so he knew what it should taste like) which he steeped for five minutes while we brewed for one. Ours beat the taste . . . based on their standard. We knew we had a winner!

We also have a different approach in that we attained 5 star Yelp reviews for many years –  working the entire time in a retail setting to perfect our brewing.  Our appliance comes with years of real-world experience with loose leaf with an attribute we really wanted. Simplicity.  You don’t need a barista to operate the appliance.

We didn’t push this appliance out to ‘beat the crowd’ or be ‘first to market’.  We took the time to think through and solve all the issues and concerns, and we are now moving forward, hopefully into a foodservice venue near you.  Our goal is to make it easy for any foodservice venue to serve any loose tea or herbal consistently, deliciously, and without a post-brew mess – at the touch of a button.

It’s time, don’t you think, that foodservice thinks of loose leaf tea as something as easy to serve ready to drink as coffee or espresso?  When was the last time you saw coffee come to your table with a string hanging over the side of the cup? Oh, Please!

P.S.  We also felt it was important to be affordable.   And it is.

For more information or inquiries about strategic partnerships, please contact vernwalden@yahoo.com
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Tea Review 540: Happy Earth’s Singbulli 1F

Walker Tea Review - Mon, 10/06/2014 - 12:27
  Origin: Singbulli Estate Harvest: 1st Flush, 2014 Score: 92 Price (as of post): 2.6 oz = $19.70  to Walker Tea Review. Get complete access to Member Content.   Sign Up For The Newsletter. Sample provided by Happy Earth Tea. Walker Tea Review- a tea blog with tea reviews and tea tastings. Want to see a […]
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