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Chamomile Citrus Herbal Tisane from Mighty Leaf

SororiTEA Sisters - Sun, 04/13/2014 - 03:59

Tisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Herbal Tisane

Where to Buy:  Mighty Leaf

Tisane Description:

Chamomile Citrus herbal tea is a refreshing infusion perfected to curl up with and savor by the sip. Made with Soothing Egyptian chamomile flowers and subtle slices of citrus fruit, this vibrant blend will rejuvenate the spirit. From intoxicating aroma to sweet flavor, this signature herbal tea infusion in our silken tea pouch, our gourmet teabag twist, with chamomile, fruits and herbs reflects our vision of the artisan tea experience.

Learn more about this tisane here.

Taster’s Review:

I have made mention in the past of my dislike of chamomile.  OK, so I don’t hate chamomile.  But I just don’t love it.  I don’t think that I’ve ever thought:  ”You know, I’d really like a cup of chamomile tea.”  That just has never really happened, because there are so many other things I’d rather be drinking.  That said, sometimes, I need to chill out and relax, and chamomile does a good job of instilling that sense of calm that I want.

Much of my dislike of chamomile stems from past experiences of drinking teas made of crushed chamomile blossoms in a tea bag.  Yuck.  Fortunately, a lot of tea companies realize that when the chamomile blossom is whole and not crushed into dust, the brewed liquid tastes better.  Mighty Leaf figured this out, and I can see through their silky pouches that the chamomile used in this Chamomile Citrus Herbal Tisane is beautiful, big blossoms combined with citrus peel, lemongrass, lemon myrtle and other herbs.

The citrus flavors combined with the naturally sweet, apple-like flavor of the chamomile offers a pleasant taste that’s easy to sip.  The primary flavor here is the citrus flavors, followed by chamomile.  I am happy to say that I don’t taste a lot of hibiscus here, although I do find myself wishing that I tasted more of the spearmint.  I only taste very faint hints of mint in this cup.

Overall, this is a pleasant cup of tea.  Not something I’d drink everyday, but I can see myself turning to it when I needed something to help relax.  It’s very soothing and it’s tastier than plain chamomile.

The post Chamomile Citrus Herbal Tisane from Mighty Leaf appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

The last bit of 2013 green tea

Life in Teacup - Sat, 04/12/2014 - 23:29
I'm sitting in a room full of 2014 new green teas, while drinking this last bit of a 2013 green tea called "wild orchid bud". By the way this is a very unimpressive green tea name, as there are so many "orchid this", "orchid that" tea in China! This is one of my favorites in recent years. Amazingly, this tea still tastes very good. Sometime ago, when I wrote this blog post about shelf life of green tea, I was thinking that among all green teas well made and well stored, some teas simply last longer than others. For example, quite a few Anhui green teas (such as huang shan mao feng and this "wild orchid bud") seem to have much longer shelf life than teas like bi luo chun.

I tasted a few samples of this tea in 2012 and immediately fell in love with it. In recent years, I've decided to introduce at least one or two "new" (I mean new to American market) green teas to America. For example, in 2011, it was Orchid Fairy Twig. In 2012, it was Bai Mei Hua Jian. Up till today, not many people have heard of this latter tea (but the knowledgeable barbel carp tea lexicon has included this tea, impressive!), either in China or else where. But it's not less tasty than many very famous green teas. Last year, my "new" tea to bring up was supposed to be this "wild orchid bud". But unfortunately, a whole shipment with this tea and a few others were lost in transition, and eventually I only got a little bit of this tea as a gift in an order of other teas. But this year, it will come again!


Why would I drink old tea while the new tea is already here? There are a few reasons.

First, I'm very thrifty. Got to finish the old tea, no waste of tea!

Secondly, no matter how good the old tea remains, once you start the new tea, under the comparison, you will immediately switch to new tea and won't want any of the old tea anymore. You all know it.

Thirdly, it's ok to wait for a while. Traditionally, it was recommended that the new green tea should rest for 2-4 weeks before usage. It was for several combined reasons, including the flavor development of the tea and the traditional Chinese medicine theories. Whether or not the tea is healthier after a couple of weeks' resting, there isn't any evidence-based conclusion yet. But I do believe it and wouldn't mind waiting for a big longer. In the old days, one wouldn't even think about whether the green tea needs to be rested for 2-4 weeks, because nobody could get it any time sooner anyway. It used to take weeks for a green tea to be transported from its hometown to the province next to it. Nowadays, it takes several days for a tea to be transported from its mountain to another side of the earth, and it is possible to drink a new tea very soon. But it wouldn't be too much pain to wait for a bit longer. So, try to finish your 2013 tea first! ;-)

Organic Ceremonial Grade Matcha from DōMatcha

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 04/12/2014 - 16:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green (Matcha)

Where to Buy:  DōMatcha

Tea Description:

Certified organic by JONA (Japan Organic and Natural Foods Association), this premium, organic ceremonial Matcha is the purest and most sustainable way to enjoy the ancient Matcha tradition. Our DoMatcha™ Ceremonial Organic Matcha is produced in Kagoshima, Japan.

Learn more about this Matcha here.

Taster’s Review:

One question I’m asked often by tea drinkers is:  What is the best Matcha available?  When I first started out as a tea reviewer, my answer to that question was always, immediately, unequivocally:  DōMatcha.

Since that time, I have sampled MANY different Matcha teas, and I’ve enjoyed many of Matcha teas that I’ve tried.  Like other products, I can say that I liked some more than others.  And now, the aforementioned question regarding what Matcha is the best is a bit more difficult to answer because my experience has allowed me the unique opportunity to sample many amazing Matcha teas.  But, DōMatcha remains right up there close to the top of the list.  And this Organic Ceremonial Grade Matcha from DōMatcha is one of the best that you’ll ever taste.

It has a bright, fresh, and lively flavor to it.  It tastes remarkably fresh.  When prepared traditionally – scooped, sifted and then whisked with a chasen until completely incorporated – it becomes a frothy, bright green liquid that keeps its froth until you finish the bowl.  (Not that finishing the bowl takes long with this stuff – it tastes so good that it’s difficult to stop sipping!)

I love that the powdered green tea stays sustained in the liquid until I take that last sip.  I don’t get a gritty or chalky sort of texture from any sip.  It stays smooth and sweet and delicious until I’ve finished the bowl.

It tastes sweet and vegetal.  I experience a “bittersweet” sort of taste from it, similar to what I’d experience if I had bitten into a bar of high quality dark chocolate.  It’s not “bitter” but there is contrast to the sweetness of the leaf.  The palate feels enlivened as I sip it, and I can feel the liquid go to work and begin to invigorate me.  This is the stuff!

I love that this is organic.  I love that it’s a ceremonial grade Matcha so it works with a koicha preparation (thick soup) or usucha preparation (thin soup).  I prefer somewhere in between, and I don’t usually do precise measurement when I prepare Matcha.  I scoop some out, sift it, and then pour in hot water, whisking the mixture into a thick paste, and then add water until I’ve reached my desired  consistency.

A really superb Matcha – this is one that I’d continue to recommend to those who are looking for a top-notch Matcha.  It’s the good stuff!

The post Organic Ceremonial Grade Matcha from DōMatcha appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

Tea Review 519: Teamania’s Oolong #12 Jin Xuan

Walker Tea Review - Sat, 04/12/2014 - 14:30
  Origin: Doi Mae Salong, Chiang Rai Province, Thailand Harvest: 2012 Score: 88 Price (as of post): 200 g = $13.48  to Walker Tea Review. Get complete access to Member Content.   Sign Up For The Newsletter. Sample provided by Teamania. Walker Tea Review- a tea blog with tea reviews and tea tastings. Want to see […]

Happy tea cup art

Tea Squared - Sat, 04/12/2014 - 13:00

Just a bit of merchandise spotted at Disneyland recently —


Iced Black Tea from Tazo

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 04/12/2014 - 03:59

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Learn more about Tazo on their website.

Tea Description:

Certain feats, like executing a reverse swan dive into a shimmering pool while wearing a pair of Euro-cut trunks and a captain’s hat, out only be attempted by a select few.  This blend of black teas has the kind of cool, smooth sophistication to pull off a move like that, should it choose to do so.

Taster’s Review:

I received a box of this Iced Black Tea from Tazo from a friend, and while I certainly appreciated her generosity and thoughtfulness, I also appreciated that I didn’t actually buy this tea myself.  I would have been sorely disappointed had I done so.

That’s because this is one of the most mediocre teas I’ve tasted in a long time.  The thing that I appreciated most about this tea is that it helped me realize just how good the other iced teas that I’ve been drinking lately really are.

I tried brewing this many different ways.  I first tried cold brewing the tea, and this produced a rather flat and boring tasting tea.  Then I tried resteeping those tea bags – hot brewing the tea this time – and the results were much the same:  boring tea.  Not much flavor to them at all.  And I wasn’t even looking for “flavoring” type of flavor, I was just looking for a good, brisk, refreshing black tea flavor.  But I didn’t get that.

Then I tried hot brewing new (previously unsteeped) teabags.  Again … just sort of lackluster.  This is the kind of flavor I’d expect from the tea in the yellow, white and red box, but not from a tea that is supposed to be at least one notch above that brand.   But after trying to brew this tea several different ways, there was nothing I could do to make this tea taste good.  The problem wasn’t with the brewing method, but the tea itself.

A really sad tea.  It’s tea like this that leaves a bad taste in the mouths of those that claim not to like tea.  I wouldn’t like tea either if this is all that I had to drink.

The post Iced Black Tea from Tazo appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

Who Knew It Could Happen Twice?

Joy's Teaspoon - Sat, 04/12/2014 - 00:45

by Naomi Rosen

When I first launched JoysTeaspoon.com, I made a Tea Business Bucket List (Crytpic name, I know). It looked like this:

  1. Offer great tea.
  2. Educate tea drinkers on palate and nuances.
  3. Educate tea drinkers of environmental and social impacts of tea.
  4. Meet Leonardo DiCaprio. (What?)
  5. Be a part of the educational offerings presented by World Tea EXPO.

I do offer great tea, I do educate, and last yeath-r I was a part of a World Tea EXPO panel session discussing blogging within your business. Damn you security guards for thwarting my 100% completion on that list!

That said, World Tea EXPO has asked me to come back. And not just for one session…but two! Firstly, I will be moderating the Bloggers Tea Roundtable (5/30). I admire every single one of the bloggers on this panel and am super excited to hear what is said! The line-up includes:

For my next trick…I was also asked to represent small tea businesses as a panelist in the “New Face of Retail” panel discussion being offered on Saturday (5/31) morning. It’s being moderated by Elyse Peterson of Tealet, who happens to be one of my favorite tea people! Here’s a snippet of the description for this class:

“Join some of the brightest up and coming stars of tea retail in the United States as they come together to discuss the current and upcoming trends in tea retail. This panel will include experts in the area of tea education, in-store blending, popup retail, bitcoin payments, and true tea sales. You do not want to miss this session!”

They called me “brightest”! That almost never happens.

As you can clearly see, between these two sessions, the countless cups of tea I will be ingesting, the US League of Tea Growers meeting I will be attending, and the reconnecting with tea friends, it is shaping up to be an epic three days for me!

I always have a “Lookout List” with me of products, teas, and items I am trying to track down. Is there something you think we should start carrying? Shoot a note over to naomi@joysteaspoon.com and fire off your suggestions!

A New Name?

The Devotea - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 20:39

This is a scene from Yes Minister that I have always loved. The second bit, not the first bit. http://youtu.be/OzeDZtx3wUw If you didn’t get around to watching it, there’s a suggestion that legislation is to be enacted in the European Parliament to cause the British sausage to cease being referred to as a ‘sausage’, but […]

The post A New Name? appeared first on Lord Devotea's Tea Spouts.

Cranberry Breeze Herbal Tisane from Simple Loose Leaf

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 16:00

Tisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Fruit/Herbal Tisane

Where to Buy:  Simple Loose Leaf

Tea Description:

This perfectly balanced blend of subtly sweet cherry and rose hips with tart cranberry and hibiscus make this herbal tea refreshingly delicious and reminiscent of a fun fruit punch drink. Perfect for children and others watching sugar and caffeine; Cranberry Breeze is wonderful hot or iced and is the perfect alternative to sweet caffeinated drinks.

Learn more about this tea here.

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

Taster’s Review:

This Cranberry Breeze Herbal Tisane is not one I would have selected for myself.  I am sipping on it only because it was one of the five teas in this month’s Simple Loose Leaf Selection Club and I opted for the five samplers instead of choosing an ounce or two of two of the teas.  But you know what?  I’m glad that I received this because I am enjoying it.

Yeah, normally, I’m not a big fan of hibiscus, and this is hibiscus-y!  Really hibiscus-y.  When I drink a hibiscus-based tisane, I want it to either be light on the hibiscus, or have ingredients that work well with the hibiscus.  Well, this tisane isn’t light on the hibiscus, but the cranberry and hibiscus work very well together.

Yes, it’s tart.  There are times when I’d even go so far as to say it’s sour!  But, cranberries are like that, and as I said, the hibiscus and cranberry work really well together in this tisane.

I taste notes of sour cherry too, and the cherry and cranberry together give this a very juicy, fruity, party punch flavor only healthier, because even though I am not a fan of hibiscus, it is does bring a lot of health benefits to this party in a teacup.

I like this better iced than hot because the fruity punch flavor just tastes better iced.  Not my favorite tisane, but it is something that I’d drink now and then when I want something a little bit different to give my taste buds a jump start.  Try brewing up a pitcher of this, chilling it, and then serving it to the kids the next time they want something to drink – it’s a great naturally caffeine free alternative to those sugary sodas!

Oh, and don’t forget about Simple Loose Leaf’s special April promotion!  You can get your first month of the Selection Club for just one dollar!  Yes, you read that correctly!  Use this code:  1DOLLARMONTH and enjoy up to five different teas next month for just one dollar!  Wow!  That’s amazing!  Be sure to check it out and tell ‘em that I sent you!

The post Cranberry Breeze Herbal Tisane from Simple Loose Leaf appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

Seven Cups Dian Hong Gong Fu 2012

Tea For Me Please - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 16:00
Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: small, dark with scattered golden tips
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: deep reddish brown

I couldn't resist picking up a bag of this tea when I ordered my annual indulgence of Huang Xi Zhang from Seven Cups. Chinese red tea is an interesting category because there are so many different kinds. At +Tea Drunk we have a fairly large leafed Dian Hong. They look giant compared to these tiny "gong fu" type leaves. The taste was bold and sweet with fruity notes and an almost brown sugar-like finish. On a cold and rainy day, this exactly what I needed! It wasn't as yammy or raisiny as other Dian Hongs that I have tried but that wasn't a bad thing in the least. There was a just a touch of astringency but I did not find it bitter or unpleasant. If you really must, it was full bodied enough for milk or sweeteners but please try it on its own first. You won't be sorry!

Dian Hong Gong Fu 2012 purchased from Seven Cups.
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GREEN HILL TEA: "JADE OOLONG (PREMIUM)"

39 Steeps - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 14:24
{ That's some jade there, all right. }  Jade Oolong, (Premium) by Green Hill Tea.
My students wanted to know what "jaded" meant. Of course, I knew the basic meaning: to be tired, cynical, unenthusiastic. But going to the more obvious meaning, it means a faded green, a pale echo of the bright color we see in our mind when we imagine that color.
Green Hill does not identify the source of their Jade Oolong, other than to say it's a high-mountain (2200 feet) crop from China. Generally speaking, I like to know where a tea is from, because I'm still learning and want to educate my palette as I taste. 
So in this case, I rely entirely upon my observations. I infuse with water just below boiling. Unfortunately,  here at work, I rely upon an electric kettle of filtered water, rather than my Japanese white charcoal setup I have at home. 
Dry, the leaves are tight and richly green, and quite fragrant. Wet, they take on a seaweed aroma, not unpleasant, which reminds me of the scent of the seashore. I depend on my sense of smell for my first introduction to a tea, and this is . . . okay, but not an unadorned delight. So this tea is not all about the aroma of the wet leaves, then. Good to know.
The wet leaves are a characteristic Chinese oolong: large leaves, which have readily opened up in the first steeping. So not very tightly twisted. Quite a bit of complete leaf, some broken, very little stem.
FIRST STEEPING. The liquor is -- wait for it -- a pale, jade green. You didn't see that coming at all, did you. The tea is good, quite good. It's a straight shooter, with a moderate vegetal quality, a flowery high range, and very little at the bottom of the register. Smooth, but with a hint of drying, a touch of an edge, which sharpens the senses. This tea wants you to stop and pay attention to it, rather than sitting good-naturedly and minding its own business. I enjoy its smoothness, and the huigan, or aftertaste (one of the few Chinese words I easily remember, so I use it often) holds in the mouth for minutes. Again, quite a straight shooter. The flavor of the tea and the huigan are closely linked, and I do not get a wide variety of flavors that develop in my mouth and nose over time. Though the tea liquor itself is green, it doesn't taste green, if you catch my meaning. It tastes golden-orange: mellow, a hint of brightness, burnished, open, not overpowering.
SECOND STEEPING. On the second steeping, I went rather long, with a moderate amount of leaf. The appearance of the cup is still a clean, pale green, as transparent as you would hope it would be. The cutting edge of the tea has arrived, and the vegetal note is more pronounced. This is not an especially assertive tea, so if you want a tea so strong you can stand a spoon up in it, you'd be better off with a meaty assam or an opinionated Ceylon mix. But even here, the smoothness and laid-back quality of the first steeping is long gone. This oolong is balanced between the acidic brightness, the slight dryness, and the overarching floral smoothness. Nicely done.
SO WHAT ARE THESE OBSERVATIONS ALL ABOUT? you may ask. I want to remember what I drink. I want to remember what I think when I'm cupping tea. Flavor and aroma are tightly bound to memory and place, and I want to capture some of my life I pass through it. This moment is green oolong, lightly sharp flavor, blue sky, end of winter, bare trees, deadlines I need to meet, anxiety I'm holding down, beloved by family, enjoying my teaching job, quiet moment in the midst of some familiar struggles, needing more sleep, wishing I were traveling, enjoying Shakespeare's "As You Like It," and trying to get back to work captioning. In other words, pretty much a normal morning, with a lovely cup of tea worthy of attention, rather than just let slip by unnoticed and unmarked.Please click over to visit my blog to get to know me better. And if you would be so kind, join the site with Google Friend Connect and share it with your friends on Facebook or Twitter. Thank you for your patronage!

First tea set

T Ching - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 12:00

Five miles of hiking uphill would land you at the cabin I was raised in. Water came from a hand pump, light from a kerosene lantern, heat from a wood cook stove, milk from a series of goats – always inexplicably named “Billie” – and fresh greens from our garden. My father hunted ducks, pheasants, and venison. My mother made bread, tofu, and wild berry preserves. We all fished for trout! In the spring, we gathered mushrooms, miner’s lettuce, and in summer, wild onions. In the fall we gathered berries, and more mushrooms. One day a week, we would rest, read, take a stroll, play Dominoes or Scrabble, sing with Mom while she played the guitar. For a child who had never known of television or the shopping mall, it was the ideal life.

Three or four times a year, my grandparents would come to visit. They would park their car at the end of the road, shoulder huge packs, and trudge their way to our cabin. While our high Sierra lifestyle was rewarding, there were many things we could not grow, gather, or shoot, and some of these things had to be brought in. My grandfather would always carry a twenty pound bag of brown rice and a few gallons of kerosene. Grandma would carry several pounds of fresh and dried fruit, a pound or two of loose leaf tea, new jeans for one of us, and sometimes a simple toy for me – a yo-yo, jump rope or top. All of these items were hugely anticipated and appreciated . . . but the thing my parents would hug to their chests when the packs were opened was tea.

Although I had those few simple toys, working with my parents on our five acres was my life. From the time I could tell the difference between a”pretty rock?” and a vegetable seedling, I was put to work picking up the former and weeding around the latter. When my mother made tofu, I was given a little bowl and cheesecloth. When my father split shingles for our cabin, I picked up and stacked the shingles. I learned to add by playing dominoes and to read from playing Scrabble or listening to my father read aloud from one of the ten books we owned. When I thought of things I wanted, they were mostly practical items . . . a rake and a shovel that were just my size; or a pair of scissors of my own.

So it was perfect that during one of my grandparents’ visits, Grandma brought me my own Child’s Tea Set. It was packed in a pressed paper box, and contained a teapot, sugar and creamer dishes; four saucers and four cups. It was beautiful, and I loved it! I was, at five years old, a seasoned tea drinker. I had made tea for my parents on many a work day. When I was nine years old, we moved back to the world of traffic and institutions. My only regret is that we never took any photographs of those nine years in the country, but I can still see my father and mother, sunburned and windblown, standing in the goat pen, each cradling a child’s tiny teacup and saucer. To this day I have the tea set, although one saucer was broken during a raucous tea party with imaginary guests.

This post was originally published January 28, 2008.  Written by the mysterious contributor, Rosie Pussytoes, she no longer appears on the contributor page for T Ching.

MAIN:           IMAGE 1:              IMAGE 2:

The post First tea set appeared first on T Ching.

Tea pot and cup rings

Tea Squared - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 12:00

This photo of these adorable rings has been kudzu-ing along Twitter and Pinterest in recent weeks, but without any source information (like where to buy). If you know, do tell.


Valley Green Tea from Shan Valley

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 16:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Shan Valley

Tea Description:

Valley Green Tea is our premium tea harvested year round. It has a subtle, fresh and well-rounded taste. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This Valley Green Tea is the last of the four teas from Shan Valley that I’m tasting, and I’m very happy to say that I found enjoyment from all four teas.  These teas from tea farms in Myanmar are really quite good, I’m glad I had the opportunity to try all four!  I don’t know that I could select a favorite of the four because I found something in each that I liked.  These teas from Shan Valley are really good, and I recommend them highly.

I really like this Valley Green Tea.  It’s one I’d call a “daily go-to” type green tea – it has a very pleasing flavor:  not too overpowering, just a fresh and calm sort of taste that I like to sip when I just want a good cup of green tea.  Not something that I need to sit and think about … just something that’s easy to enjoy.

The flavor is very uplifting and it has more of a classic green tea taste:  fresh, leafy and vegetative.  The vegetal notes are somewhere between grassy and very lightly buttered beans, leaning just a little more toward the grassy flavor.  I like that even though this has more of a vegetal taste than a “toasted nut” type flavor that I noticed in the Mountain Roasted Green Tea, the “green” flavor isn’t overwhelming.

It’s just a soothing, enjoyable cuppa.  Great to drink with meals because it doesn’t have any strong, detracting flavors.  It has a nice, smooth texture and a refreshing taste.  I especially like this one iced with a thin slice of lemon.  Or try brewing up a pitcher of it and squeezing in some fresh grapefruit juice – delicious!

The post Valley Green Tea from Shan Valley appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

Tribute Tea Company Scarlet Robe Oolong

Tea For Me Please - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 16:00
Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: dark, twisted
Ingredients: oolong tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 190 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: gold

When I first opened this tea I had to double check the listing on Tribute Tea Company's website. The name seemed to imply that it was Da Hong Pao but the leaves looked almost like a Phoenix oolong. It was unusual mostly because it wasn't roasty at all. Then I remembered that a co-worker had once shared a similar tea from Teance with me. The oxidation is ow so the taste was mellow and fruity with slight floral notes. It lacked the usual cliff tea bitterness but for me that made it rather boring. I found myself missing the deep, multi-layered roastiness that I know and love. This could partially be blamed on the cold, rainy weather but it just wasn't my cup of tea. That's not to say that it was a bad tea. I just don't think it should be called Da Hong Pao if it is not manufactured like one. Realizing that I'm a bit persnickety about that, you might enjoy this tea a lot if you don't like a very roasted taste.

Scarlet Robe Oolong sample provided by Tribute Tea Company.
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Swimming in matcha

T Ching - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 12:03

An old fish is swimming through the ocean, and he comes upon two younger fish. The older fish says, “Morning boys, how’s the water?” and continues swimming along. The two younger fish look at each other and say, “What the heck is water?”

I’ve been with Sencha Naturals for over six years.  Green tea is the reality of my life. I use it as a tool, as an indulgence, as a remedy, as a reward, as a gift, and as the key ingredient in all of our products. It’s part of my daily world, and I don’t think twice. What this also means is that I make the mistake of assuming everyone else knows everything I do about this marvelous little leaf.

 Just a few weeks ago, I was visiting a close friend who mentioned that he’s been having difficulty concentrating at work. I responded, “Why don’t you just use matcha?” He had no idea what I was talking about. “What the heck is matcha?”

Oh dear.

To me, it’s ubiquitous. You mean, not everyone knows that matcha promotes focused relaxation, that Buddhist monks use it to meditate without falling asleep, and that it does this by way of its rich content of the amino acid L-theanine?

I guess not everyone’s swimming in matcha.

“So, what do I buy? Like, chamomile?”

 Ohhhhhhhhhh dear.

I briefly explained that it’s green tea, that it’s the whole leaf, that it’s not just a steeped tea bag that you toss out, but it was no use. I’d already lost him. 

I don’t get it; why did he tune out? I wasn’t being overly-technical or preachy. I brought it up as matter-of-factly as someone would bring up painkillers as a remedy for headaches. What could I have done differently? How do you explain matcha to someone who thinks chamomile = green tea = chai latte = Snapple?

More importantly, how do you get them to believe you? To try it out for themselves? To join you in your happy frothy whirlpool of decadent matcha? Come on in, the matcha’s fine….

Images courtesy of the contributor.

The post Swimming in matcha appeared first on T Ching.

Peanut Cluster Honeybush Tisane from 52Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 03:59

Tisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Honeybush

Where to Buy:  52Teas

Tisane Description:

As for this week’s tea, I kind of have a soft spot for these peanut clusters–the ones with peanuts and caramel dipped in dark chocolate? It’s making me hungry just thinking about it which is probably a good sign since I haven’t eaten much of anything for almost a week. But I think this blend of caffeine-free honeybush, peanuts, cacao nibs and organic caramel, peanut and chocolate flavors is bound to be a crowd pleaser. It’s a honeybush blend, so it probably won’t last long. Get yours today!

Learn more about this tisane here.

Taster’s Review:

Peanut Cluster?  Yummy!  That’s a treat you don’t have to ask me twice if I’d like one … I mean, what’s not to love about a peanut cluster?  Caramel peanut clusters that are drenched in dark chocolate?  Yes please!  And as Frank (the chief zoomdweebie at 52Teas) has a way with honeybush, I had absolutely no doubt that I’d be loving this Peanut Cluster Honeybush Tisane!

The aroma of the dry leaf was a little funky.  It smelled a little bit chemical-y … but I can also smell notes of cacao and peanut as well as the nutty, woody fragrance of the honeybush, so I was hopeful that the weird smell wouldn’t upset the flavor.

Fortunately, it doesn’t taste off.  Quite the contrary … it tastes quite scrumptious!   I taste the notes of caramel, peanuts, and chocolate.  It’s sweet and tastes like it should have more calories than it does.  (I don’t know that it has any calories … but if it does have some, I’d guess that the calorie count is small.)

As I make my way to the end of the cup, I notice the flavors develop.  I taste the sweet, creamy notes of the caramel and the warm, toasty flavor of the peanuts.  The chocolate has a richness to it.

There is a really good balance of flavors here, including the honeybush, which hasn’t been overpowered by the other flavors of this tisane.  The nutty, honey-sweet flavor of the honeybush melds very well with the other notes of this cup.  I think that honeybush was the ideal base for these flavors because they seem to be made for one another.  Everything marries beautifully.

This is really good.  I don’t know that I’m tasting a liquefied peanut cluster here, because to be perfectly honest, I’d rather be munching on the confection than sipping the tisane.  That said, this IS really tasty and makes a pleasant dessert substitute for those who would rather not indulge on a piece of candy but still want something sweet and satisfying.

The post Peanut Cluster Honeybush Tisane from 52Teas appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

The original Oriental Beauty

A Tea Addict's Journal - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 17:25

As some of you know, I’m a historian in my day job, and my new project is working on the history of how ideas (drinking practice, health concerns, etc) and technologies (plantation methods, processing techniques, etc) pertaining to tea moved across borders. Taiwan turns out to be the most interesting place to look at, because of its close connection with China, but at the same time because of its distinctive history and geopolitical location, thanks to it being under Japanese jurisdiction for the first half of the twentieth century. It ends up being a nice, big melting pot of stuff, perfect for my purposes.

As a result, a side story I’ve been pursuing on and off is the history of the tea Oriental Beauty (dongfangmeiren), more commonly known locally as Pengfeng tea (bragger’s tea). There are two kinds of legends surrounding the origins of this tea. One has something to do with nomenclature – the name Oriental Beauty. You have probably read this online somewhere, most likely from some vendor trying to sell you tea, but the story usually involves some queen of the United Kingdom (some say Victoria, others Elizabeth II) drinking it, finding it absolutely marvelous, and therefore giving it this nice name. This story is almost certainly false, and is made up to sell tea.

The most common name for the tea in the local community, Pengfeng tea, means bragger or bluffing tea. The idea is that the farmer who originally made the tea was able to sell it for such a high price, he bragged to his friends and neighbours, none of whom believed him. So, the name of the tea was born.

This story has always sounded sort of true, but like many such stories, there are lots of slightly different versions, making you wonder whether it’s true or not. What we do know is that the tea was from Beipu. The farmer was probably surnamed Jiang 姜 and there were large sums of money involved. Exactly how large, nobody knows. Everything I saw was a “it is said that” sort of version.

Everything, until today.

On my last trip to Taiwan I was able to get a copy of many issues of a journal called Taiwan no chagyo, or Taiwan’s Tea Industry. It was a trade journal from the colonial period. I have been going through the issues to look for information on all sorts of things, and today, reading one issue from 1933, I came across this

Bingo. The headline is “A high class tea worth a thousand yen”. Not a thousand yen for one jin, mind you, but a hundred jin, which doesn’t sound like a lot of money, until you figure out that the average jin of tea back then sold for a yen or less – so one jin of tea that sells for 10 yen was, indeed, an astronomical sum. The tea was one of the participants in a local tea competition, and it broke the 300 point mark in whatever scale they were using to grade the teas. The buyers included the governor’s office. It was obviously a cheap and easy way to promote better tea production – encouraging farmers to make better tea and they would be rewarded too with great prices if their tea were good. As the Taiwanese government was trying hard at that time to increase the production quantity and quality of tea for export, it made sense to pull a PR stunt like this.

The tea probably already existed by this time, but this was what made it famous. It probably is also where the name Pengfeng originally came from – maybe not so much a bragger in the liar sense of the word, but the farmer getting rather pleased with himself and annoying all the neighbours. Either way, it’s very gratifying to have found the smoking gun, so to speak, for the story, and it’s good to know that sometimes some of these legends do have some basis in fact.

Makaibari Silver Green Tea from Tea People

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 16:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Tea People

Tea Description:

From the famed Makaibari tea estate we bring you the highest grade of green tea. Appearing like streaks of silver on a canvas of green, these leaves when brewed produce a gentle golden liquor. The Silver green liquor transports you into a world full of the symphony created by the jingle of the bangles of beautiful tea pickers and the rustle of the green tea leaves as their hands brush against it. This rare green tea is made exclusively for connoisseurs who are enthralled by a sweet tasting green tea without the overpowering grassy and chlorophyllic overtones. It has a dry finish and no lingering aftertaste. 

Makaibari tea estate is one of the first organically certified tea gardens of Darjeeling. It is located in the foothills of the Himalayas in the town of Kurseong where the tea is grown at an altitude of around 4500ft.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I love the green and white teas that come from the Darjeeling region, and this Makaibari Silver Green Tea from Tea People is an excellent example of why I enjoy these teas so much.  This is lovely!

The flavor is vegetative with a taste that is a little grassy and a little bit like steamed vegetables.  There are even some notes of seaweed to this.  One of the more vegetative green teas that I’ve had in a while.  It’s a very invigorating sort of vegetal taste … it is as if it’s nourishing my very soul.

And I love that even though it does have a strong vegetal tone to it, it’s not a bitter or overpowering “green” taste.  It has a really pleasant sweetness to it too.  I like the balance between sweet and savory to this cup.  It has a slightly dry astringency at the tail with a clean aftertaste.

I like this one served hot, but, it’s also quite nice chilled too – try brewing it with some fresh mint and then chilling it – amazing!  A very refreshing beverage.

Don’t forget to check out Tea People’s indiegogo fundraising campaign to help tea garden workers!  This fundraiser is ending soon, so please consider contributing.

The post Makaibari Silver Green Tea from Tea People appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

Teavivre Fengqing Zhuan Cha Raw Puerh Brick Tea 2005

Tea For Me Please - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 16:00
Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: small, dark and compressed
Ingredients: puerh tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: pale gold

This tea is a rare treat in that I hardly ever see brick tea and it is a bit older than everything that I have been drinking lately. The dry leaves were quite dark in color but they resembled a typical raw puerh after a quick rinse. Herbaceous and vegetal, I picked up interesting notes of liquorice. Initially the taste was on the astringent side but the finish of each sip was very sweet. This kind of complexity is one of my favorite features of raw puerh. I found myself continuing to brew even after the majority of the taste had faded as it still had a really nice sweetness. As always, I love the amount of background information that +TeaVivre provides. Production area, picking time and the type of storage are all things that puerh buyers need to know. This vendor also has a ripened version of this tea. I think it would be very interesting to compare the two.

Fengquing Zhuan Cha Raw Puerh Brick Tea 2005 sample provided by Teavivre.
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