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Nutty Mocha Mate Blend from ArtfulTea

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 03:59

Tisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Yerba Maté

Where to Buy:  ArtfulTea orArtfulTea on Etsy

Tisane Description:

The indulgent taste of chocolate and hazelnut, plus mellow chicory, give this mate blend a rich, roasted, mocha flavor. Yerba mate is an herbal infusion, but unlike most herbal teas, mate contains a stimulating caffeine-like compound. 

Learn more about this tisane here.

Taster’s Review:

It’s been a while since I’ve had some Yerba Mate, and this is a great tisane to get myself back into it!  This is really quite tasty!

It actually reminds me a lot of a tisane that I used to make back in my blending days!  I made a mocha flavored Mate, mostly because I was looking for something that would satisfy my craving for coffee back then because I was still missing coffee.  As I’ve said before I couldn’t drink coffee any longer, but there were still times when I missed the flavor of coffee.  I certainly didn’t miss the sick feeling I’d get a few hours later though!

Since that time, I’ve come to really love tea more than I ever loved coffee.  That’s probably pretty obvious, huh?  But I still love it when I find a tea or tisane like this one that offers a taste that is reminiscent of that rich, roasted flavor of coffee that I used to enjoy.

And this satisfies that craving!  This tastes very much like a rich, delicious mocha that you might find in one of those super expensive coffee shops, complete with the sweet, nutty flavor of hazelnut and even a touch of chocolate.  I am wishing there was more chocolate flavor to this, though.  It’s got some chocolate, but as I have been known to say, more chocolate is always better, and that’s true with this tisane too.

As it is, though, I found this to be quite enjoyable and I’m really glad that I got to try it.  Another tasty offering from ArtfulTea.

Goomtee Grand Reserve Spring Tea First Flush 2014 from Darjeeling Tea Lovers

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 16:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Darjeeling Tea Lovers

Tea Description:

Goomtee Grand Reserve is a LIMITED EDITION tea. Not all teas get the prestigious tag of GRAND RESERVE but this tea deserves every bit of this.

The leaves have been plucked from the highest elevated section of this garden which is also called the MUSCATEL VALLEY. Super fine plucking of the leaves and tender processing has resulted with a masterpiece.

High floral notes with distinct JASMINE LIKE flavour will make every tea connoisseur mesmerized. It is only Goomtee that could deliver such a beauty.  

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This 2014 Goomtee Grand Reserve Spring Tea First Flush is a lot greener than most of the Darjeeling teas that I’ve encountered lately.  In fact, it looks very much like a green tea rather than a black tea.

Taking this into account, I lowered the temperature slightly.  Normally, I would steep a Darjeeling tea at 195°F, but for this greener Darjeeling, I lowered the temperature to 185°F, and using my Breville One-Touch tea maker, I set the steep time for 2 minutes.

The result is a delightful cup of tea!  The aroma of the brewed cup is crazy floral – it is really beautiful.

And the flavor!  Sweet!  Floral!  There are even hints of muscatel in this cup.  The floral notes are profound, and as the description above promises, there is a “distinct jasmine like” flavor.  There is a soft, pleasant texture.  The astringency sort of tingles on the tongue in the finish, and I find that it accentuates the floral notes of this cup.

I’m mesmerized by the jasmine tones of this cup.  I don’t think that this tea was actually *scented* with jasmine, but, it almost tastes as though it has been processed similar to a typical jasmine scented tea.  The jasmine essence is a bit more subdued than in a typical jasmine green tea, for example, but, it’s still a rather surprising taste to find in a Darjeeling tea such as this.

I’d recommend this to all those that enjoy drinking tea!  Those that love jasmine, as I do, this is an exciting twist on that classic favorite.  Those that love Darjeeling, this is one that you should have on your cupboard because it’s a stunning representation of a fine Darjeeling first flush.  Those that simply love all teas, this is quite a unique tea and unlike any that I’ve tried thus far (and I’ve tried a lot of tea!)  It’s one you should try too!

A truly remarkable and … rather unexpected Darjeeling tea.

Reader Survey: What Would You Like to See Here?

Tea For Me Please - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 16:00
There other day I asked on Twitter what questions people had about tea that they would like to see answered in a blog post. I got some really awesome responses (thanks guys!) but I thought that I would post it here too for those of you that are tweet-less. What would you like to see here on +Tea for Me Please? Is there a tea topic you'd like to know more about? Give me your feedback! Readers are what keep this blog running so keep those comments and emails coming. I love hearing from you all.

Life has been a bit crazy lately but I'm working on getting back on track with my monthly podcast and email newsletter. My boyfriend and I will be moving in together towards the end of next month. He knows I love tea but I'm not sure he's quite prepared for how deep my obsession with the leaf really is. I'll be sure to share what me new tea set up looks like once we are settled in. :)

Is there something you'd like to see in a blog post? Got a question about tea that you need answered? Let me know about it!
— Nicole Martin (@teaformeplease) July 20, 2014

Tea Review 532: Grand Tea’s Organic GABA Oolong

Walker Tea Review - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 13:30
  Origin: Huang Shan Harvest: 2013 Score: 91 Organic: CERES Price (as of post): 25 g = $6.00  to Walker Tea Review. Get complete access to Member Content.   Sign Up For The Newsletter. Sample provided by Grand Tea. Walker Tea Review- a tea blog with tea reviews and tea tastings. Want to see a tea reviewed? […]

Convenience over everything?

T Ching - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 12:01

My husband and I were reading a foodservice survey done about a major coffee chain which concluded that consumers valued taste, cleanliness, and convenience almost equally. So, if you have the cleanliness and taste, but not the convenience . . . problem.

As anyone in retailing knows, it’s all about location. Cleanliness doesn’t cost a thing but some elbow grease.  I think location has been one of the problems in getting loose tea concepts going for the average, unfunded proprietor.  Most have had to settle for ‘B’ or worse locations simply because of the cost.

There’s convenience in location and then there’s convenience as in ‘fast.’  Loose tea is many things, but most consumers don’t see it as convenient, aka “fast.”  There aren’t drive-through windows and pots and ceramic cups handed out through the opening.

Why even bring all this up?  Because I read a discussion on a professional industry board the other day, where the question was asked – it seemed almost hopefully or longingly: “Is there a good future for loose tea?” where even specialty tea industry professionals were talking about convenience.  Lately, I have seen companies I never thought would go “pyramid bag” do so because they want and/or need to get foodservice business.  And, I’ve read the controversy that the nylon in praymid bags doesn’t degrade for decades – maybe not in our lifetimes – which makes the bags not eco-friendly.  But they sell.

On the large scale, what appears to be happening is that the coffee chains are bringing in more loose tea, but are batching it, and sugar-ing it up, and doing it mainly as specialty beverages because “tea is hot” (but not really – it’s iced).  85% of the tea sold in the U.S. is, indeed iced and black.

Panda Express is doing a new tea bar concept with boba and specialty blended tea drinks, Dunkin’ Donuts was seen looking around World Tea Expo, and all of foodservice is hopping on the “specialty tea” bandwagon.  So what are tea purists who want to start a pure loose tea business to do?

There are always niche possibilities, but for the foreseeable future, and it almost hurts me to say this because I’ve been such a heels-drilled-into-the-ground-loose-tea purist: we have to accept that a few may do very well in certain urban or trendy areas with loose tea businesses, but even some of the established and “purist” loose tea wholesalers are heading in the direction of convenience.

More on this in a future installment, but I’d love to hear comments from tea business owners.  We are in the process of expanding our vision to sync with the trend.  How about you?   What is your experience, your observations?  I know there are loose tea brewing appliances and we are about to introduce ours (“about” meaning having taken a long time and not until we believe it’s completely ready and the time is right).  Talk to me, my tea industry friends.  Talk to me.  Are your heels drilled in, are you refusing to   budge, are you determined that we will show people the light on loose leaf?  Tell me you are and why.  Or tell me how your vision is changing, if it is.

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The post Convenience over everything? appeared first on T Ching.

Product Review: Tea Assortment of Hard Candy from Raley’s Confectionary

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 03:59

Product Information:

Where to Buy:  Treatsie

Product Description:  

Tea-flavored hard candy.  Flavors include Lemongrass Green Tea, Chai Latte, Arnold Palmer and Mango Black Tea.

Learn more about Treatsie’s Subscription Box here.

Product Review:

I know I’ve confessed it before, but, I’ll confess it again:  I have a sweet tooth.  And I find myself particularly attracted to sweets that are tea inspired, like these yummy hard candies from Raley’s Confectionary.  While recently perusing the Treatsie website, I came across this tea flavored hard candy assortment, and you know I couldn’t resist!

I recently discovered Treatsie, and they’re a subscription box (similar to the box that I get every month from Simple Loose Leaf), so every month, I will get a box full of yummy treats.  (And chocolate.  Did I mention chocolate?)  You can also shop for the products individually and there are some really interesting curated boxes that you can buy at Treatsie too.  I bought these tea flavored hard candies separately, because as I said before, I couldn’t resist when I saw the words “Tea Flavored Hard Candy.”  Um … yes please!

My separately purchased products (not the Treatsie subscription box) arrived this afternoon, and I’m really pleased!  It was packaged beautifully, and I even got a “thank you” treat tucked inside – another package of Raley’s Confectionary’s hard candies – these little “thank you” candies actually say thank you right on them, and they’re pomegranate flavored!  Yum!

These tea flavored candies are really tasty.  The Mango Black Tea candy has a very distinct mango note and I can taste a softer black tea note in there too.  The Lemongrass Green Tea has a lemon-lime-ish sort of flavor to it, with a background of a sweet, grassy green tea note.  The Arnold Palmer tastes more of lemonade than it does of tea, but every once in a while I taste a slight tea-ish flavor.  I like the tangy note of the Arnold Palmer, though, it seems to balance out the other sweeter tasting flavors of the package.

And then there is my favorite of the four:  Chai Latte!  I think I’d be happy to have a whole package of just the chai latte.  They have a gentle spice to them (these aren’t strong in spice!  They’re more sweet than spicy!) and I can taste the black tea as well as a creamy note to them – they’re like a sweet little chai latte!

I love that the flavors that are promised are the flavors that are delivered.  Sure, they’re sweeter than what you’d experience if you were actually drinking a cup of chai latte or a mango flavored black tea – but they ARE candies, after all!  They’re supposed to be sweet.  What I love is that these are not just something that satisfies the sweet tooth in me, but also the tea lover in me too.

So, now I’ve found this sinful company that will send me sweet-tooth indulgences once a month … how do I say no to that?

Mr. He’s 1st Picking Laoshan Black Tea from Verdant Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 16:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Verdant Tea

Tea Description:

Laoshan Black is our most popular tea, and its success has encouraged Mr He of Laoshan Village to keep refining his process to make it better every year. This year, Mr. He has taken leaves normally used for his delicate and subtle early spring green tea and allowed them to roast in the sun for three days before hand processing in small one to two pound batches, yielding this incredible rich, subtle Laoshan Black experience.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

The aroma of the dry leaf knocks my socks off.  OK, so I wasn’t wearing socks, but if I was, they’d be blown off.  My feet felt the absence of the socks and felt the strong gust of wind that was there to blow the socks off the feet, but, because there was no socks, my feet just got a nice cool breeze for a few minutes, and given that it’s kind of hot outside, I’m glad that the gust wasn’t warm air.

Wow … so that was a lot “windier” than I expected to be to describe a scent that I can’t remember experiencing with a black tea in the past.  It smells like chocolate.  Like dark chocolate with a nice roast on those cacao beans.  Nice.  The chocoholic in me is happy.

This is a very special tea.  And since it is so special, I decided to consult the suggested brewing parameters on the Verdant Tea website for how to best brew this tea.  Now, this isn’t something I do often.  I don’t usually check to see how the company suggests I brew a tea, mostly because I’ve been brewing tea for a long time.  I eyeball my measurements using my bamboo scoop (the bamboo scoop that I own looks sort of like this one).

I have kind of a set “temperature” guide in my head:  for most black teas, I use boiling water.  If I’m brewing Assam, I drop the temperature to 205°F.  If I’m brewing Darjeeling, I drop the temperature to 195°F.  If I’m brewing herbal teas, including rooibos, honeybush, yerba mate and guayusa, I also set the temperature for 195°F.  Most pu-erh teas get 190°F.  If’ I’m brewing Green or Oolong teas, I use 175 – 185°F.  If I’m brewing a white or yellow tea, I use 170°F.   I don’t often stray from this mental temperature guide often.  Steep times are also follow a mental steep-time guide.

But because this is a tea that is of very limited quantities, and not one that I want to experiment a lot with because I don’t have a large quantity of this tea to experiment with, nor do I have the resources to secure myself a large quantity of the tea … because of these reasons, I decided to consult with the people who have had more experience with this tea than I.  I decided to go with the gongfu brew style (hey, what the heck!) and I now have sitting before me my first cup of this tea – the combined results of the first and second infusions, following an extremely quick 1 second rinse.

Ow!  Cup is hot.  I’m using my little Chinese teacup with no handle and made of very thin porcelain, so there’s not a lot to insulate and protect my fingers from the heat of the boiling water used to infuse this tea.

Very mellow tasting.  These infusions were 15 seconds and 20 seconds, which went a little longer than the suggested 2 – 3 seconds as suggested in the brewing parameters by Verdant.  But there is still a lot of flavor to the mellow taste.

The chocolate notes are THERE and I’m loving that.  The tasting notes on the Verdant website also suggest notes of cherry and almond, and I do get a slight roasted nut flavor there that is almond-y.  A lovely combination of flavors with the prolific chocolate notes.  I taste hints of the sweet cherry notes.  This first cup is sweet and lovely.

The next two infusions proved to continue with the chocolate-y notes.  I love the roasted flavor to this cup and how that enhances the chocolate-y notes.  I’m starting to pick up on honey-like flavors and a slight caramel-y note, like a honey caramel.  Nice.  I love that while this is tea is loaded with sweet notes, it doesn’t taste too sweet.  It’s smooth and well-rounded.

Later infusions, I noticed the chocolate notes beginning to wane, replaced with a stronger nutty tone.  Imagine toasted nuts that have been drizzled with honey.

The brewing parameters suggest 15 infusions, and I might very well have gotten that many out of this measurement of leaves, but, I was quite satisfied with the eight infusions that I brewed.  By the fourth and final cup, while I was still enjoying the tea but I found myself missing the chocolate-y notes of the earlier infusions.

Then I found myself wondering how the flavors would differ if I were to experiment with this tea using the “Western” approach to brewing.  So, I decided to do just that!

I think that I actually prefer the western method of brewing for this particular tea.  The flavor is richer and more robust from the very first cup.  Still deliciously chocolate-y and tasting of roasted almonds with hints of cherry, but the flavor has more muchness to it when I brew it using the teapot rather than the gaiwan.

And brewing this way, I can still get three flavorful infusions out of this tea.  The first:  chocolate-y, rich with notes of toasted almond and sweet cherry.  The second:  a little lighter on the chocolate notes, but, still very pleasantly chocolate-y, with more enhanced nutty notes and a touch of honey.  And with the third, I was able to actually taste some notes of sarsaparilla.

This tea is awesome!  It makes me want to dance the futterwacken!

Misty Peak Teas 2013 Sheng Yiwu Mtn Autumn Pu'er

Tea For Me Please - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 16:00
Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: compressed
Ingredients: puerh tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: orangish gold

Yiwu is probably my favorite mountain for puerh but the good stuff is getting harder to find these days. All of the offerings +Misty Peak Teas are hand made from start to finish by the Bin family. This is a bit unusual in the world of puerh so I was excited to give this tea a go. My sample had been broken off of a cake but the dry leaf was mostly whole and had a nice shine to it. The taste had the sweetness that I've come to expect of Yiwu but there was also a robust, brightly astringent quality to it. Part of that may be because this is an autumn harvest. There was some interesting fruity notes that helped break things up a bit. Although it had a lot of strength, it's not as funky as I was expecting. The flavors stayed true right up until the end and I must admit that I gave out before the tea did. I'm really tempted to indulge in an entire tong of this tea. Maybe once there's some room in the tea budget...

2013 Sheng Yiwu Mtn Autumn Pu'er sample provided by Misty Peak Teas.
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The other best tea blogs: A series – Part 2

T Ching - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 12:00

Today’s post is the second in my series to learn more about the finalists for the title of Best Tea Blog at the first annual World Tea Awards. In this post, I spoke (via email) to Jen Piccotti, the creator and voice of An International Tea Moment, who is based right here in Southern California. In fact, I am surprised our paths had not crossed before now.

How did you get interested in tea?

We’ve always been tea drinkers in my house, but my eyes were opened to the ritual and tradition of tea when my aunt took me to a Victorian Tea Room when I was a senior in high school. It opened my mind to the idea that there was a greater tea culture out there that was worth exploring.

Why did you decide to start a tea blog?

I had just had my first baby and felt completely out of control and incompetent in every way as a new mom. Tea was my daily luxury, and I enjoy writing, so I began writing about past tea experiences as a kind of mental vacation and creative outlet during my daughter’s naps. It was very soothing and was one thing that felt within my control at that time. I never expected people to begin reading it, but they did.

What new experiences have you had as a result of starting your tea blog?

Where to begin? After over 6 years of blogging, I’ve had the pleasure of being introduced to over 100 tea companies, each with their own unique story and specialty; I’ve tasted an enormous spectrum of some of the best teas and blends in the world; I’ve developed friendships with other tea enthusiasts who don’t find my tea nerdiness the least bit odd; and I’ve met some of the biggest names in the tea world who are more than happy to share their knowledge, experiences, and recommendations. Plus, I almost never have to buy tea! It just shows up at my house on a nearly weekly basis!

What sets your tea blog apart from others?

I’m not very scientific about my “reviews,” if you can even call them reviews. I like to tell the story of the moments I have over a cup of tea, with the tea being as much of a character in the story as any guests I may be with. I also made the decision pretty early on to focus on the positives. I only write about what I love because I have limited time, and I’d much rather shine the spotlight on what I enjoy rather than on what didn’t work for me.

Which tea or tisane would I most likely find in your cup?

A bold black tea. I’m a die-hard Assam fan and have my go-to single estate preferences (like Mokalbari and Hazelbank), and my tea cupboard is always stocked with serious breakfast blends, like California Tea and Coffee Brewery’s Irish Breakfast blend.

What is your “elevator speech” as a tea blogger?

The best tea moments are the ones that are shared. Tea is the great luxury and the great leveler of the world. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, or what your pedigree (or lack thereof) might be, sharing a cup of tea brings people together. Those are the moments I enjoy writing about.

Where would you like your tea blog to be in five years?

I’d like to become a go-to source for helping people create their own tea moments. Whether through tea recommendations, tea party planning ideas, or recommendations of tea wares. There’s a universe of options, and I’d like to help take the mystery and magnitude out of the process and make it easy for everyone to enjoy.

How do you grow your readership?

I engage on social media platforms, like Twitter and Facebook, and seek out other tea enthusiasts. I also try to write and post regularly. The more consistently I write, the higher engagement I see with readers. As with many things, out of sight = out of mind, especially on social media channels.

Which tea events do you make a point of regularly attending?

My own, of course! And then the World Tea Expo. I attended the very first one when it was introduced as “Take Me 2 Tea.” It’s grown and changed so much, but now it feels a little bit like a family reunion! I also try and attend the Annual Tea Lovers Festival that takes place in Pasadena / Los Angeles every year. I’d love to attend more regional shows like the Northwest Tea Festival, the Tea and Coffee Festival in London, and the Dublin Coffee  and Tea Festival.

Who in the tea world would you love to meet and why?

It’s kind of amazing, I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many of the “greats” in the tea world: the well-known names, as well as the paradigm-shifting new entrepreneurs. I feel like I really missed out by not having the chance to meet John Harney. The stories of his warmth and humor are lovely. I would like to meet Steven Smith, who was the mind behind both Stash Tea and Tazo and is now running his own “teaworks” in Portland, Steven Smith Teamaker. It would be interesting to hear how he approaches business and blending. I’m curious about what’s in his cup this morning.

The post The other best tea blogs: A series – Part 2 appeared first on T Ching.

Guide to buying tea in China: Part IV – Negotiations

A Tea Addict's Journal - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 09:35

So this is probably the most and also, in some ways, the least important. A lot of you probably know of something called euphemistically the “laowai special”. Laowai being the term applied to (mostly white) foreigners, laowai special means that people who are foreign to China often get a special price, although in this case, a specially inflated price. Tea shops are not immune to it, especially smaller operations that tend to quote prices based on the whim of the shopkeeper or owner, rather than to pre-set prices from corporate headquarters. So, buying from the mainland has its special problems (Hong Kong, for example, doesn’t suffer from this problem)

The laowai special is one reason why, in the first post about buying tea in China, I suggested that one should just head to the local chain teashops and buy the tea there – it’s a lot simpler, and the tea you’re likely to get is probably going to be no worse than whatever you end up locating in the tea market. If you are in a tea market, and you’ve tasted some stuff, and you like what you saw, you want to take some home with you. How much should you bargain, and what should you do?

I would suggest that as a general rule, you can pretty easily expect a 10-15% discount off the price quoted. If you are persistent and have loads of time, you might even be able to negotiate a much deeper discount – I’ve gotten prices slashed to up to about 70% off the original quoted price, and I don’t even get the laowai special in the first place. The problem is, you have to be able to tell from the beginning whether the price you’re getting quoted is severely inflated or not, which means you need to have a fairly good sense of what you’re tasting and what prices are normal for the type of tea you just tasted. This is not knowledge that is easily acquired if your primary source of tea is from Western vendors. If your counter-offer is far too low, some people might even think it an insult (or at least feign one). So tread carefully.

Related to the above, you might also need to consider your opportunity cost – if your whole order consists of kilos of tea, and you’re quoted thousands, then negotiating is probably worth it. If you are only buying a little bit – a few ounces, one cake, etc, and you have limited time, saving that extra 30RMB by wasting half an hour (or more) of your time might not be the best idea. I hear of stories of people wasting their time trying to get the 30 RMB they’re paying for a gaiwan down to 20 or 25… really? Please, do yourself a favour and spend that extra dollar so you can get on with your tea shopping. Time is limited (if you’re visiting and don’t live there). It probably cost more than that just to get to the tea market.

There are a few things to remember when trying to get a good price. First of all, ignore all signs for prices of the tea, and always ask how much it is even when it’s labeled. Sometimes you get a different quote right off the bat – the number on the tea/pot may or may not be the actual price. This is pretty common – they just need something to have a price, but it is usually just a number to be ignored most of the time.

Being nice does count – some people I’ve met go in with the mentality that the shop owner is out to scam them, and think everything is either overpriced, bad, or fake. Aside from the philosophical question of why they stuck around if they think that way, it is really not a good atmosphere if you want to then try to negotiate down prices. If the seller hates your guts and you were acting like a jerk the whole time, you’re increasing the likelihood that they’ll try to screw you. So, the more paranoid and skeptical you are, the more likely you’ll get scammed – it’s a self-reinforcing mechanism. Be always alert for scams, but don’t tell them in their face that you think you’re being scammed.

If you are buying in bulk for one particular tea, you should be able to expect bigger discounts. This is true almost everywhere, but especially in China. There’s a small exception – for some teas like puerh, keeping a whole jian intact can sometimes actually be valuable in itself. So, in the past there have been instances where a jian of Dayi cakes was worth more than 42 single Dayi cakes – it’s crazy, of course, but true. I don’t think we’re currently in those market conditions (Dayi prices having recently corrected) but it does happen sometimes. Larger amounts mean a few jin of tea if loose, and at least a tong if compressed. Anything less is really just a small order.

Prices are also not cheap in China these days. Top grade teas are actually far more expensive than teas you can find online – they just happen to be better. So if you’re used to paying, say, $200 USD for a jin of tieguanyin as whatever the best your vendor is selling you, don’t go to China and think $50 USD a jin will get you the best grade – you can easily find stuff that costs way, way more than your usual prices. The difference is really in the quality. No amount of words will be able to teach you how to tell the difference – it’s all in the tasting, and as I mentioned before, there are all kinds of tasting tricks that vendors can use you to confuse you.

Aside from these notes, you’re down to the usual tricks of getting prices down – paying in cash, showing them the cash (as in, putting the X amount of dollars you’re willing to pay down on the table – sometimes it works), being patient, sounding like you know the market, etc. All of these take skill, time, and knowledge. If your order is under 1000 RMB, and you’re only visiting, chances are it’s really not worth your time and you should get on with trying other teas.

Formosa Assam from Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company

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

Tea Type:  
Black

Where to Buy:
Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company

Tea Description: 

NEW ITEM THIS MONTH!

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

Learn more about this tea here.

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

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

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

Peaches & Cream Flavored Genmaicha from 52Teas

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

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  52Teas

Tea Description:

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

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

The Tea…

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

Learn more about this blend here.

Taster’s Review:

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

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

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

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

Properties of Aged Wulong

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

Kenilworth Ceylon Black Tea from Simple Loose Leaf

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

Kenilworth Ceylon Black Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Simple Loose Leaf

Tea Description:

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

Learn more about this tea here.

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

Taster’s Review:

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

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

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

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

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

Free Classic Tea eBooks II

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


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

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

An Essay on Tea
By Jonas Hanway link

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

Letter to a Friend, Concerning Tea
by John Wesley link

A Popular Treatise on Tea
by John Sumner link

The Book of Tea
by Kakuzo Okakura link

Tea and Tea Drinking
By Arthur Reade link

The Breville One-Touch Tea Maker

Free Classic Tea eBooks I

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


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

Tsiology; A Discourse on Tea
By A Tea Dealer link

Tea, Its Mystery and History
by Samuel Phillips Day link

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

Tea and Coffee
By William Andrus Alcott link

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

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

The Tea Cyclopaedia link

Cuisinart TEA-100 PerfecTemp Programmable Tea Steeper

Chai Cacao Tea from Tisano

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

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Tisano

Tea Description:

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

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inverness Estate Black Tea with Essence of Bergamot from Eden Grove

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

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Amazon Trading

Ingredients:

Black Tea with natural bergamot flavor.

Learn more about Amazon Trading here.

Taster’s Review:

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

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

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

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

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

Product Review: Matcha Cupcake from Whole Foods Market Bakery

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

Product Information:

Where to Buy:  Whole Foods 

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

Taster’s Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is really good!

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

Rose Mojito White Tea Blend from The Persimmon Tree

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

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  White

Where To Buy:  The Persimmon Tree

Tea Description:

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

Learn more about this blend here.

Taster’s Review:

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

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

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

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

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