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Kris Grey Black Tea from Ette Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Sun, 05/24/2015 - 10:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Ette Tea

Tea Description:

Shaded as the quintessential earl grey, Kris Grey (Blend no. 050) is a western classic brew fortified with south east asian ingredients.

Kris Grey is a blend of black tea, javanese vanilla beans, blue corn flower, bluepea flower, bergamot oil & edible silver dust.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

My second blend from Ette Tea!

So, I’m not the biggest Earl Grey fan; not that I dislike it, but I just don’t crave it often either. Under normal circumstances I probably wouldn’t have gone for this one – but who can resist sample sizes and the idea of sparkly silver tea? And really, the dry leaf is stunning! It’s covered in this really fine, gorgeous silver dust. So pretty!

Steeped up I’m not going to lie; I’m a little disappointed. The tea is still gorgeous and sparkly, but it’s not as dramatic as I’d have thought given the amount of noticeable glimmer in the dry leaf. Maybe about the same amount of sparkle as DT’s Gitter & Gold blend that people like to ooh and aah over.

The taste is solid though; it’s a good EG with a medium level of citrusy bergamot and silky smooth black base. I feel like a little bit more of vanilla would have really sent this one sky rocketing though. As it stands I can hardly taste the vanilla at all, but as is it’s just fine too. People who really love EG should definitely take a closer look at this because while it isn’t mind blowing, it’s got a really taditional taste with that fun sparkly element that makes it different from the average EG you can get at any store.

So for me, it’s a step down from Pandan Chiffon (which set the bar very high) but still not a flop! Definitely excited to try my next tea from this company!

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Sassyfras Strawberry from Piper & Leaf

SororiTEA Sisters - Sun, 05/24/2015 - 03:59
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy: Piper & Leaf

Tea Description:

A Delicious Burst of Strawberries, Sencha Green Tea, Sassafras Roots, Red Beets, and a Subtle Herbal Blend.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Another sample from Piper & Leaf. Another tea I shared with my dad over the Mother’s Day festivities.  Another tea I so wanted to fall in love with, but alas. . not so much.

I brewed this one up per the instructions on the sample.

This tea smells delicious.  As with the other Piper & Leaf samples I have had, the teas smell fresh.  Crisp.  Beautiful to look at and brews up smelling amazing.  But first sip was met with a twinge of disappointment.

The tea had a strong strawberry flavor but had this weird taste that I couldn’t wrap my head around.  It was like the two flavors were competing against each other instead of mingling together.  My dad said the same thing.  He said it wasn’t something he would need to have again but that it was a unique tasting tea.  I’m not sure if the unique odd flavor I was picking up was the sassafras root or the red beets.

I would love to hear somebody else’s thoughts on this tea.  I can’t say that I’ve had sassafras a whole lot or even beets for that matter.  I’m wondering if it was just user error or if it was just the uniqueness of the different ingredients.  I am hoping to place another order with Piper & Leaf to try the rest of their offerings and I will more than likely give this one another shot.  It just sounds so very interesting!  I feel like I need to give this one another shot.

The post Sassyfras Strawberry from Piper & Leaf appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

Chemical Compounds in Tea

World of Tea - Sun, 05/24/2015 - 03:18

Tea chemistry is complex. Just how complex? Well, on the bush, tea leaves contain thousands of chemical compounds, when they are processed, these compounds break down, form complexes and form new compounds. When we steep tea leaves, our senses are tingled by the thousands of volatile compounds (collectively known as the “aroma complex”) from the tea liquor and the thousands of non-volatile compounds and the complexes between them, not all of which are water soluble, and the ones that are water soluble are soluble at a function of the properties of the water used for steeping like temperature, total dissolved solids, pH, etc.

So all of this makes it very difficult to generalize and say that x chemical is responsible for y taste. Many tea chemicals have been categorized into broad groups, and collectively we have some idea of what happens to these groups during processing and what flavors and aromas they are responsible for. As tea gains popularity, there is no doubt that more research will be done on tea chemistry and we’ll have a clearer picture of what is going on chemically from the field to the cup.

Plant leaves are made up of mostly water, when they are removed from the plant they begin to wilt and lose water. Tea leaves are no exception to this. In the field, they are made up of mostly water, when they are plucked the leaves begin to lose water or wilt, a process called withering in the tea industry. As tea leaves wither, their cell walls begin to break down and the chemical components inside come in contact with oxygen and each another, spurring on a group of reactions we call oxidation. Over the years, tea producers have learned to control the natural tendency of tea leaves to wither and oxidize in order to produce a finished tea that has a desirable appearance, aroma, flavor, and taste using methods we’ll refer to as tea processing.

Amazingly, for hundreds of years tea makers have produced drinkable teas using principles of withering and oxidation with no knowledge of the underlying chemistry. From what we know today, the most important compounds in fresh tea leaves responsible for producing teas with desirable appearance, aroma, flavor, and taste are: polyphenols, amino acids, enzymes, pigments, carbohydrates, methylxanthines, minerals and many volatile flavor and aromatic compounds. These components undergo changes during tea processing to produce what we’ll call a ‘finished’ or ‘made’ tea – one that has been processed and is ready for packaging or steeping. Let’s take a look at each of these compounds beginning with the most abundant, polyphenols.

Polyphenols
In steeped tea, polyphenols are largely responsible for astringency. The term polyphenol simply refers to a categorization of compounds composed of many phenolic groups, hence the name poly-phenol. These compounds are plant metabolites produced as a defense against insects and other animals and are the most abundant compounds in tea comprising as much as 30-40% of both freshly plucked tea leaves and solids in tea liquor1. They are derived from amino acids via sunlight and therefore tea grown in the shade has a smaller concentration of polyphenols and a higher concentration of amino acids2. The bud and first leaf have the highest concentration of polyphenols and polyphenol levels decrease in each leaf moving down the plant3. There are an estimated 30,000 polyphenolic compounds in tea4, flavonoids are arguably the most important group of polyphenols in tea and are the source of the many health claims surrounding tea, and specifically tea antioxidants. Within the flavonoid group, flavanols (also known as flavan-3-ols) are the most prevalent. Flavanols are also referred to as tannins, and during oxidation are converted to theaflavins and thearubigins—the compounds responsible for the dark color and robust flavors notably present in black teas. The major flavanols in tea are: catechin (C), epicatechin (EC), epicatechin gallate (ECG), gallocatechin (GC), epigallocatechin (EGC), and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is the most active of these catechins and is often the subject of studies regarding tea antioxidants. Tea flavanols are sometimes collectively referred to as catechins. Besides flavanols, tea flavonoids also include flavonols, flavones, isoflavones, and anthocyanins; all of which contribute to the color of a tea’s infusion and its taste.

Amino Acids
Amino acids give tea its brothiness, or umami taste. Tea leaves contain many amino acids, the most abundant of which is theanine. Camellia sinensis, a mushroom called Boletus badius, and an plant called guayusa (which is often processed made into a tisane) are the only three natural sources of theanine found thus far in nature. In the tea field, sunlight converts amino acids to polyphenols, and as such; shade grown tea contains more amino acids than tea grown in direct sunlight. Some tea bushes are even deliberately shaded for several weeks before harvest to enhance the tea’s amino acid content. Theanine, more specifically L-Theanine is responsible for promoting alpha brain wave activity which promotes relaxation. L-Theanine in concert with caffeine can induce a state of “mindful alterness” in the tea drinker. In steeped tea, amino acids make up 6% of the extract solids1.

Enzymes
Polyphenol oxidase and peroxidase are the most important enzymes in tea leaves. They are responsible for the enzymatic browning of tea leaves that takes place when the cell walls in the leaves are broken and the polyphenols are exposed to oxygen – otherwise known as oxidation. These enzymes may be denatured or deactivated using heat so that browning cannot occur; this is one of the first steps in green tea production and is why finished green tea leaves remain green. The enzymes may also be denatured by simply depriving them of moisture for a time which is what happens during the long withering period in white tea production.

Pigments
Plant pigments are responsible for absorbing light for photosynthesis. Pigments also give leaves their color. There are two major groups of pigments in fresh tea leaves: chlorophylls and carotenoids. These pigments condense during withering and oxidation and become darker. During oxidation, the green color of tea chlorophylls is converted to black pigments known as pheophytins. This conversion leads to the dark appearance of finished oxidized teas. Tea carotenoids are another pigment group found in tea leaves and are mainly composed of carotenes which are orange and xanthophylls which are yellow and are also responsible for the color of finished tea leaves.

Carbohydrates
All plants store energy formed during photosynthesis in starches and sugars, otherwise known as carbohydrates. Plants later use this stored energy to fuel important reactions, in tea, carbohydrates help to fuel the enzymatic reactions that take place during oxidation and are also responsible for the creation of polyphenols in young tea leaves. Carbohydrates make up on average 11% of extract solids in steeped tea1 and lend to its sweetness.

Methylxanthines
Methylxanthines in tea include the stimulant caffeine and two similar compounds: theobromine and theophylline. The tea plant creates these chemicals as a natural combatant towards insects and other animals. On average, methylxanthines in tea leaves make up 2% to 5% of the dry weight of the fresh leaves5. Methylxanthines also contribute to a bitter taste in the tea infusion. Levels of these compounds depend on the variety and cultivar of Camellia sinensis used, climate, age of the leaves, and the propagation method (seed vs. cutting) used on the plant.

Minerals
28 mineral elements have been found in the tea flush5. Compared to other plants, tea has a higher than average amount of: fluorine, manganese, arsenic, nickel, selenium, iodine, aluminum, and potassium5. Tea also has an unusually high amount of fluorine, which has been known to help prevent tooth decay in humans, however too much fluorine can be harmful. It is important to note that fluorine occurs in greater amounts in older tea leaves. Tea minerals vary greatly with each harvest and change greatly during processing.

Volatiles
The volatile substances in tea leaves are largely responsible for a tea’s flavor and aroma. The aroma complex of tea is made up of hundreds (maybe even thousands) of flavor and aroma compounds that exist in trace amounts. Many of these aromatic compounds do not exist in fresh tea leaves and are derived from other substances during processing. The flavor and aroma of each tea depends on a wide variety of combinations of these compounds, hence the name aroma complex. Compounds such as, linalool and linalool oxide are responsible for sweetness; geraniol and phenylacetaldehyde are responsible for floral aromas; nerolidol, benzaldehyde, methyl salicylate, and phenyl ethanol are responsible for fruity flavors; and trans-2-hexenal, n-hexanal, cis-3-hexenol, and b-ionone are responsible for a tea’s fresh flavor6. When studying tea’s aroma complex, it is sometimes broken into two parts: primary aroma (from fresh tea leaves) and secondary aroma (products of manufacture). Regardless, more and more research is being done on tea volatiles and how our olfaction system works in general, so we may expect some clarity on this issue in the coming years.

Sources:

  1. Harbowy, Matthew E., and Douglas A. Balentine. “Tea Chemistry.” Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences 16, no. 5 1997: 415–480
  2. Ercisli, Sezai, Emine Orhan, Ozlem Ozdemir, Memnune Sengul, and Neva Gungor. “Seasonal Variation of Total Phenolic, Antioxidant Activity, Plant Nutritional Elements, and Fatty Acids in Tea Leaves Grown in Turkey.” Pharmaceutical Biology 46 (2008): 683–687
  3. Bhatia, I.S. “Composition of Leaf in Relation to Liquor Characteristics of Made Tea.” Two and a Bud 83 (1961): 11–14.
  4. Uncovering the secrets of tea – http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/2012/11/tea-health-benefits
  5. Zhen, Yong-su. Tea: Bioactivity and Therapeutic Potential. London: Taylor & Francis, 2002
  6. “Tea Chemistry – Tocklai”. Tocklai Tea Research Association, n.d. http://www.tocklai.org/activities/tea-chemistry/

My Picks from World Tea Expo

Tea Pages - Sun, 05/24/2015 - 02:34

Now that I’ve fully emerged from the post-travel haze of World Tea Expo, I wanted to share some of the products and people that caught my eye out in Long Beach.

Tea-Ceré by Sharp

This was the one that I can’t stop thinking about. It’s the product I never knew I needed, but ever since getting home I’ve been measuring counter space.

Named to reference Japanese tea ceremony, Tea-Ceré was released under the name Healsio Ocha Presso in Japan a year ago. They were expecting to produce and sell 50,000 units in the first release. Instead, they sold 150,000. It’s described as an “espresso maker” for tea, but that just doesn’t do it justice in my opinion. Over and over I watched tea fans give a half-hearted shrug when they were told to visit the booth, but then they found themselves won over instantly.

This is no simple tea brewer. The front cylinder can be filled with a favorite tea – green, black, oolong. The cylinder is fitted with a ceramic grinder that acts like a mortar and pestle. The grinding is done slowly to ensure there is no heat degradation in the process. The tea emerges as a powder, the same consistency as matcha. The user then adds the powder into the brewer and it is whisked to a perfect foamy beverage. The entire process takes less than 3 minutes. Both grind quality and water temperature can be adjusted.

I loved the idea that you could use a good tencha and fresh grind matcha or you could put in a black or oolong and grind it to a texture that I could use in cooking. I also admired the way the whisking mechanism attempted to replicate traditional whisking.

The new machine will hit the market in July at a retail price of $299.99. It is available in red and green. (In Japan there is a gorgeous white and black version. I hope this one makes its way here too.)

Herb and Flower Crystals by Fresh Origins

I must confess that the appearance of this product is what got me to stop and take a harder look. It didn’t take long for me to be convinced that this was a product with real potential. Fresh Origins grows its own edible flowers and fresh herbs and then combines them with cane sugar for a crunchy and sweet crystal with vibrant (natural) color and a powerful flavor. They promote them for use in desserts and to rim glasses on cocktails. While my mind ran through some interesting pastry and sweets options, I couldn’t help but think how magnificent some would be in iced teas. I don’t usually put sweeteners in my hot tea, but then again, I could see the mint or fennel showing up in a chai. The flavors available include mint, cilantro, fennel, rose, basil, hibiscus, basil, pumpkin and cranberry.

Mama-Kii of Mamaki of Hawaii

I am not by nature a great lover of herbals. I can enjoy the occasional rooibos or chamomile, but my one true love will always be Camellia sinensis. Mama-Kii still stood out for me as something a little different. This herbal is from the plant Pipturus albidus, which is in the nettle family. I was curious about it as a friend had just been extolling the virtues of stinging nettle as a medicinal. While mamaki has grown and been used for wellness purposes on Hawaii for generations but Mamaki of Hawaii boasts the first certified mamaki plantation. The liquor is a soft berry color and the flavor was smooth. Now it’s time to dig through my samples and see if the flavor holds up for me or if the promise of mamaki was more appetizing.

Tea Soda from Brew Lab Tea

Well this was a surprise. I stopped by this table because I noticed Owl’s Brew on display. Owl’s Brew makes really interesting tea concentrates (in slick black bottles with chalkboard-style labels) that are primarily for use in cocktails. While I definitely enjoyed trying those (what’s not to love?), I found myself veering over to look at the blends they promoted as tea sodas. These blends were actually from their other company, Brew Lab Tea. Brew Lab has been developing custom blends for the past four years. I hadn’t yet experienced their teas, but found myself struggling to decide which to try first. They all sounded great. They steeped each tea and then carbonated them for a unique and yummy beverage. While the Lemon Ginger White was refreshing and the Hibiscus Bubbler sounded great, I was enamored with the Sasparilla Soda. Now I just have to figure out where to get it up here near Boston!

Arum Tea Organic

This is the first Indonesian tea I’ve had the chance to try. The company promotes the volcanic soil and tropical climate of Indonesia as the secret to its successful tea growing. If these examples are representative, then I think they’re right. (And the spectacular Arum offered a beautiful black tea and green tea, but what I actually loved most were the oolongs. They have both a dark and a light. I was very impressed with the complexity I found in these and I look forward to spending some more time steeping them at home. (My second try with Indonesian tea, an Indonesian White Tea Bud, from Chariteas was equally lovely with some of the most gorgeous buds I’ve seen in awhile. Interesting to see such diversity of styles.)

Bitaco Tea

This is another origin story, and one you will hear about again. You all know that I love to tell stories, especially the stories of tea people. I can guarantee that I’ll be spending more time finding out about the people behind Bitaco Tea. Have you ever had tea from Colombia? Neither had I. This company began producing loose leaf tea in 2013 in the Andes Mountains, in land with volcanic soil and basalt, and on a plantation that pays significant attention to sustainability. I got to try Cacao Kisses – a black tea with cacao nibs and cocoa husks. I think the addition of the cacao was a nice tribute to its South American heritage. It was a really decadent, rich tea and the blend was nicely balanced. I’m looking forward to trying some of the other blends that came home with me.

 

 

Raw

The Devotea - Sat, 05/23/2015 - 22:34

Many of us believe that quality, loose leaf tea is on the rise. In specialist tea shop/cafes and as an essential part of more general food businesses. Sometimes, that belief is shaken. When Lady Devotea and I returned to Adelaide, we stayed for a few weeks in the heart of a city, and were delighted to find nearby a perky little place that did great food, excellent coffee and a...

The post Raw appeared first on Lord Devotea's Tea Spouts.

Tequila Sunrise Iced Green Tea from Southern Boy Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 05/23/2015 - 22:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Southern Boy Teas

Tea Description:

Tequila-, orange- and cherry organic flavors blended with our awesome organic Chinese sencha fannings make this iced tea bliss. Blow your guests away with this awesome iced tea!

Learn more about this tea here.

Learn about SBT’s subscriptions here.

Taster’s Review:

As I mentioned in my review of 52Teas Tequila Sunrise Black Tea – it’s been quite a while since I’ve had the cocktail.  To be honest, tequila isn’t my favorite alcoholic beverage – but as far as cocktail inspired iced teas go, this Tequila Sunrise Iced Green Tea from Southern Boy Teas is a refreshing drink.

I don’t really taste ‘Tequila Sunrise’ here.  Then again – it HAS been a long time since I’ve had one, so don’t rely upon my memory of what a tequila sunrise should taste like.

During the sip, I taste green tea with hints of citrus.  In the aftertaste, I taste cherry and orange more distinctly and occasionally, a flavor crosses my palate that reminds me of tequila.  But that doesn’t arrive until the aftertaste.  During the sip, I taste green tea and notes of bright, sunny citrus flavors.

What I do like about this particular iced tea is that it’s refreshing and it’s quenching my thirst without tasting overly sweet.  I’m enjoying that I taste more green tea than flavor.

It’s a pleasant iced tea.  Not my favorite from SBT, but they can’t all be my favorite.  Even so, I like it enough to say that I might buy it again.

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BTS Featured Artists Series: Home sewn decor from Renae L.

Barb's Tea Shop - Sat, 05/23/2015 - 18:26
Beautiful table runner with tea-time theme
Custom table runners, towels, trivets, cozies and placemats - these are just some of the items that my friend, Renae Leggieri, can create for you. You can custom order based on size, colors, patterns and themes. Of course, I am a fan of the tea-themed merchandise!

I am introducing a new feature for Barb's TEA Shop Service blog and putting a spotlight on artists and crafters that I know and whose work is amazing. After writing about my sister-in-law, Sandy, and her knitting earlier this year, it occurred to me that I am blessed with a network of creative women whose talents I admire. I'd like to share these artists and crafters with you as well.

I love this fabric and just happened to have cups to match!
Renae started her sewing business last year. She quilted for a hobby, but quickly found that she was getting requests for items she made for personal gifts, such as towels and trivets.

You'll be taken with the creativity and attention to detail.

Fancy stitching and pretty ribbon trimmings add to artistry
Although I have two table runners suitable for the fanciest of tea parties,  Renae has items perfect for holidays and everyday use.  Check out these trivets that would be great for all your summer holiday entertaining.

Red, white & blue theme is great for summer parties. 

In addition, Renae crafts bowl cozy/wraps. They can be used as a decorative feature or for functional hot pads when heating up items in the microwave. (Set of 3 sizes, 15", 12", 10". Mix & match sizes for what works for you. $30 set.)


Bowl wraps functional and decorative.
Table runners start at $15.00, if quilted, prices start at $20.00.

For more information, contact Renae at grand_valley_mom@hotmail.com.

Table runner keeps surfaces safe from drips while adding charm and whimsy to tea time

And, next time you are over for tea, check out my new table runners!

Jestha Jasmine Green Tea from Nepali Tea Traders

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 05/23/2015 - 16:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

This tea is available from Amoda Tea.

Tea Description:

Jestha Jasmine begins with Nepal’s premium Pokhara green, a light, clean and crisp tea with beautiful full leaves. To this is added fragrant jasmine blossoms and orange peel to create a very serene cup of tea. Jestha Jasmine tea is perfect for warm weather and makes a really nice iced tea! 

Learn more about subscribing to Amoda Tea here.

25% of profits from our Nepal teas will be donated to the ‘Nepali Tea’ Restoration Fund for earthquake relief.  Learn more here.

Taster’s Review:

I was intrigued by this Jestha Jasmine Green Tea from Nepali Tea Traders.  I’m usually not all that excited to try a non-Chinese jasmine tea because I’m usually disappointed by them, but, I can’t recall having been disappointed by any teas from Nepali Tea Traders so I decided to go into this experience with an open mind and who knows?  I might actually find a jasmine tea not from China that I like!

I brewed this in my Breville One-Touch.  I usually steep jasmine teas in my gaiwan and then strain the tea into my Yi Xing mug that is designated for jasmine teas, but because this also has orange in it AND because I wasn’t so sure if I’d actually enjoy it and want the flavor to taint my jasmine mug, I decided to just use a ceramic mug and brew this tea in my Breville.  I poured the entire contents of the sampler from Amoda Tea into the basket of the Breville and then added 500ml of water to the jug.  Then I set the temperature to 175°F and the timer for 2 minutes.

Joy!  This is the way that a jasmine tea that hasn’t been processed in China SHOULD taste.  It doesn’t have that artificial jasmine flavor to it.  I suspect this has a lot to do with the fact that the jasmine notes come from the addition of the jasmine blossoms rather than the use of jasmine oil.  The jasmine tastes delicate and natural – not perfume-ish!  It has a lovely floral essence without tasting like soap.

And I really like the touch of orange in this blend.  It adds a pleasant juicy, citrus note that isn’t overwhelming and the orange and the jasmine complement each other very well.

The green tea base is quite enjoyable as well.  It’s soft and has a hint of creaminess to it.  I like the way the creaminess of the green tea plays to the other flavors in this tea.  It softens the floral notes so they aren’t too sharp and adds a lovely sweetness to the tangy citrus flavor.

A really surprising Jasmine tea!  I’m very picky about my jasmine – and I’m enjoying this.  I’d recommend this to other jasmine tea drinkers too!

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Mimosa Black Tea from Lupicia

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 05/23/2015 - 10:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Lupicia USA

Tea Description:

A black tea is scented and inspired by mimosa flowers that denote the arrival of spring. Floral and refreshing citrus aroma.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

They say that America runs on Dunkin’, but I think that old saying needs to be updated. I manage a small breakfast-oriented restaurant and if I am not mistaken, the humble mimosa reigns supreme. Nothing like a slab of bacon, a couple waffles and a mimosa to cure a hangover. We oftentimes sell more mimosas on the weekend than coffee.

Even though, I still love the smell of orange juice and cheap champagne. It smells like breakfast to me. I don’t care for alcoholic beverages in any way, but I like the flavor profiles. The idea is  much more romantic than actual execution and resulting effects it may have. When I stumbled upon the funky gold tin on Lupicia’s website, I was completely sold. tea. Now if only I could get it in bulk to sell it in my restaurant… the possibilities!

The tea leaves give off an aroma that is so eerily exact to the combination of fresh squeezed orange juice and champagne that it’s a bit confusing at first. I wouldn’t have thought that a  black tea would have been the best choice for a such light and effervescent drink. But when I steeped this tea in a small teapot, it turned into a surprisingly delightful drink. Comforting, bright, it’s got that great orange zest flavor and a slightly boozy tang of the champagne. I have tried this tea both hot and cold, and while the hot version is quite nice, i like my citrus-flavored black teas iced much better.

Sometimes certain special and limited edition teas on the Lupicia website are rather hard to find. You really have to dig if you want to find any interesting or different blends than what you’d see at first glance. There is a treasure trove of cool teas and beautiful tins just waiting to be taken home and loved forever. This is a great find, and I can soundly recommend it for those of you who enjoy a great citrus flavored black tea.

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World Origin Tasting Tour (Taiwan) @ 2015 World Tea Expo

Pon Fon Cha - Fri, 05/22/2015 - 23:04
World Origin Tasting Tour is a one day program for tea lovers to 'travel' from one origin to another... 

Within 45 minutes, we have to introduce Taiwan's tea history, geography, tea districts, tea cultivars, and then 4 Specialty Taiwan Oolongs provided by Taiwan Tea Manufacturers' Association are prepared for tasting: Wenshan Pouchong, Alishan Jade, Lishan Amber, and Oriental Beauty, as listed in the WOTT Passport.

Thanks to our good friend, Jane Pettigrew, her warmest support to guide this presentation. Our TTMA team have done an efficient job to make sure every attendee gets the Taiwan tea map and leaflet.  The volunteers in prep room also done a wonderful job to bring the tea according to our schedule and infusion instruction.  It won't be possible without a good team effort.

Josephine has led a chanting before I start my session.  Here is the fun video clip for "We want Taiwan Oolong Tea!"

Pumpkin Toffee Dragonwell from 52Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 05/22/2015 - 22:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type: Green

Where to Buy: Zoomdweebies.

Tea Description:

This week’s tea of the week tastes like rich pumpkin pie with a crust made entirely of sweet, delicious toffee. I don’t know if anyone could really make a pie like that, but I would love to try one. In the meantime, I’m going to continue enjoying rich sips of this yummy tea. The Dragonwell green tea adds just the right notes of sweet nuttiness to compliment the toffee and contrast with the pumpkin. All in all, this is a really special treat you’ll love serving to your guests, if you’re generous enough to share.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

In honor of our LiberTEAs taking over 52Teas soon (can not wait!), I decided to crack this tea open and see what I thought.

After checking out the reviews on Steepster for this blend, I decided I needed to try this one both hot and cold brewed.  I will be honest, brewed up hot, I really did not care for this one.  I can’t really say what the tea tasted like but it was unpleasant. A real muddled tasting green tea is the best I can come up with.  I ended up dumping the cuppa.

Switched to cold brewed.  I dumped some tea leaves into my pitcher last night and this morning I was greeted with a delicious pumpkin toffee tea.  Wowzer! I am impressed.  Especially after the hot brewed method was such a failed (I’m going with that was user error somehow).  I can taste the pumpkin, the toffee, and the Dragonwell base and the flavor is incredible. Creamy, smooth, hints of spice, and this richness that allows this ice tea to become this ridiculously amazing iced tea treat.  I am in love! I do really like 52Teas tea bases and I am sure that Liberteas will follow suit.  Frank at 52Teas has listed his last teas that he will create for 52Teas (including a Raspberry Birthday Cake Blend!!).  From what his blog says, Zoomdweebie will be going dark by the end of the month.  Check out the remaining blends and pick them up while you still can. You won’t regret it!

Unfortunately, this particular beauty of a tea is no longer available to purchase.  I wish it was.  I would pick up a ton of it.  I can see this tea becoming a staple in my cupboard.

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Show is On - Taiwan Tea @ 2015 World Tea Expo

Pon Fon Cha - Fri, 05/22/2015 - 20:17

Another Year!
We are grateful that we get to meet so many tea friends here in Long Beach, California.  Every year World Tea Expo indeed is our reunion, and we are happy that Taiwan Tea is part of this Big Family!


Skill Building Workshop: Tea Baking Basics @ 2015 World Tea Expo

Pon Fon Cha - Fri, 05/22/2015 - 19:31

 Dr. Jerry Liu of Taiwan Tea Institute has given a wonderful class to help our tea colleagues to stay ahead of others.  The goal is to help individual tea businesses to create Signature Baked Oolong, and also start to introduce Vintage Oolong. 
After the class, we had a brief discussion and we realized that our title for this Skill Building Workshop: Tea Baking Basics is way too humble.  Many tea professionals are here at the World Tea Expo to learn something that they can practically invest, and implement into their businesses.  They are not interested in learning the "Basics".  Maybe we should change the workshop title: Profiting from Tea Baking ?

Focused Tasting: Oolong Sommelier @ 2015 World Tea Expo

Pon Fon Cha - Fri, 05/22/2015 - 18:24

Taiwan Tea Institute has finally completed a full training session for "OOLOONG Sommelier".  There are four areas that we want to emphasize, and each will be offered as single workshop with hands on study. 
1.) Theory behinds the Spectrum
2.) Cupping and Grading Oolong
3.) Tasting for Marketing
4.) Serving Programs and Creating Menus



Focused Tasting is a highlight while we are covering the Theory.

I am glad to work with this group at the 2015 World Tea Expo.  I hope we will be able to offer our Skill Building Workshop: Cupping and Grading Oolong by WTE 2016.

Please enjoy the slideshow taken on 5/7/2015 class:

Gopaldhara Spring Special Black Tea from Udyan Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 05/22/2015 - 16:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black (Darjeeling)

Where to Buy:  Udyan Tea

Tea Description:

Goapldhara is one of the highest tea estates of Darjeeling and is located in the Mirik valley. The garden is planted with high quality clonal bushes and produces exquisite teas. Gopaldhara First Flush Darjeeling Tea has a floral aroma and a sweet & mellow taste. A great tea to relax and refresh your mind.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Oh. My.  Goodness!  What a lovely Darjeeling!

I steeped this Gopaldhara Spring Special Black Tea from Udyan Tea in my Breville One-Touch, and I was a little surprised when the tea maker finished it’s cycle – the tea is not black.  It’s not even coppery.  It’s yellow!  Like the color of melted butter that had been slightly browned – but only ever so slightly – still more yellow than brown.

Parameters:  I measured 2 bamboo scoops of tea in the basket of my Breville and added 500ml of freshly filtered water to the jug.   Then I set the temperature for 195°F and the timer for 2 1/2 minutes.

But don’t let this rather unusual color for a ‘black’ tea freak you out – this is some seriously good stuff!  Think of it as liquid gold.

Mmm!

Really smooth – much smoother than I’m used to from a Darjeeling.  There is some dry astringency toward the tail – but not a lot.  No bitterness.  Now, I can’t say that you wouldn’t experience those things if you brewed it at a different temperature (I find that with Darjeeling, it’s important to keep the temperature below boiling because the boil is a tad too hot for Darjeeling tea) and a different steep time (2 1/2 minutes is my sweet spot when it comes to Darjeeling tea).

This is sweet and floral.  No overt sharpness from the floral notes, it’s very soft and beautiful.  There are some delicate fruit notes to this – more like a citrus note than a grape-y note like you might experience from other Darjeeling teas.  Imagine a splash of a fruity/grape-y wine added to your orange juice and you would have the fruit-like notes I’m experiencing.

But mostly, what I taste is a delightful medley of flower.

It’s soft and pleasant – a lovely afternoon tea.  This is the kind of tea you want to serve to people you want to impress.  They’ll be impressed!

Truly a remarkable tea – beautiful!

The post Gopaldhara Spring Special Black Tea from Udyan Tea appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

Friday Round Up: World Tea Expo 2015 Edition

Tea For Me Please - Fri, 05/22/2015 - 16:00
This World Tea Expo edition of the Friday round up is a bit of an extended version. I want to share with you guys all of the great perspectives out there. These talented and passionate folks aren't just fellow bloggers, they're my friends. If I missed anyone, let me know! +Geoffrey Norman  A Business Trip with Benefits Bitter Gourds and No-Pants Awards Pocket Oolongs and After-Parties +Nicole Martinhttps://plus.google.com/103097147251455801975noreply@blogger.com0

Going to tea

T Ching - Fri, 05/22/2015 - 12:07

You’re going out to tea today,
Be careful what you do;
Let all accounts that I shall hear,
Be pleasant ones, of you.

Don’t spill your tea, or gnaw your bread,
And don’t tease one another;
And Fanny mustn’t talk too much,
Or quarrel with her brother.

Say”if you Please,” and “Thank you,”
Come home at eight O’clock;
And Ethel, pray be careful, dear,
And do not tear your frock.

Now mind your manners, children five,
Attend to what I say;
and then perhaps, I’ll let you go,
Again, another day.
~Kate Greenaway

Loading Image:           Image 1:

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Golden Monkey Black Tea by Teavivre

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 05/22/2015 - 10:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Teavivre

Tea Description:

Coming from Fujian, the Golden Monkey is made of the fresh buds and leaves of Fuding Pekoe, by lightly sun withering, rolling, fermentation and drying. Golden Monkey has the particular aroma of black tea. You could scent the fruity flavor through every sip of the tea.

The golden hairy tips truly make this tea more attractive. This is one reason why it is called Golden Monkey. Another reason is its monkey-claw-liked shape of the dry tea, which is in golden and black color. When brewed, the Golden Monkey Tea tastes brisk and smooth for the first sip, presenting a distinctive flavor. If you like stronger flavor, you could brew for a longer time. The sweet aftertaste could act faster for thicker liquid. You could only feel it when trying by yourself.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

In my opinion, Golden Monkey is a Teavivre classic – one that all tea lovers (and particularly black tea lovers) should try at some point. It’s a cupboard staple for me, perfect in any season, and at any time of the day or night. It’s a real comfort tea, for me. Reliable, versatile, and tasty to boot! I used 1 tsp of leaf for my current cup, and gave it approximately 2.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is lightly golden, the scent sweet and malty with an underlying hint of grain. I’m drinking it without additions today, hence the reasonably low steep time on this occasion, but it also works well with a 4 minute brew and a splash of milk.

One of the reasons I like this one so much is its almost intensely chocolatey initial flavour. It’s like a square of high quality dark chocolate; bittersweet, with an edge of dark, dry cacao. The malty notes emerge in the mid-sip, and make this a much sweeter prospect, which becomes a little reminiscent of molasses. It’s by no means overpowering, though – there’s just a hint of something treacley lurking in the background. Notes of baked bread, grain and a light nuttiness develop towards the end of the sip, along with a smooth caramel richness.

I like that this  can be a layered, nuanced cup without milk – there’s a lot to taste, but it all somehow works together to create a flavourful, full-bodied cup that’s immensely satisfying. It’s a little more generic with milk, which seems to flatten some of the flavours and drown others, but I can enjoy it either way. A cup with milk typically features, for me, a stronger note of baked bread, a little chocolate, and a similar level of malt and grain. It’s a slightly altered, less intense flavour profile, but sometimes that’s exactly what I want.  Golden Monkey is tea that suits any mood. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll never look back.

The post Golden Monkey Black Tea by Teavivre appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

Menghai Wangshuji Shou Pu-erh in Seventh Grade 2008 from Wymm Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 05/22/2015 - 03:59
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy:  Wymm Tea

Tea Description:

This shou pu-erh brews with a rich and honey flavor and long-lasting jasmine rice aroma. Full tea leaves from high mountains in Menghai County, located in west of Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan Province, are picked to make the tea in 2008. Pu-erh tea has the potential to ferment over time, and this tea has been post-fermented for 6 years since production. Post-fermentation gives the tea vibrant flavours and richer aroma as well as deep wine colour.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This Menghai Wangshuji Shou Pu-erh in Seventh Grade 2008 is the fourth of the teas that I was sent by Wymm Tea in their lovely sampler presentation package.  These samplers come beautifully wrapped in a milk-carton shaped box.  (You can see the box in this review.)

As I’ve mentioned many times:  pu-erh just isn’t my favorite type of tea.  But, after trial and error, I learned the ways to best brew pu-erh to my liking and I’ve come to appreciate it.  It still isn’t my favorite, but I can say that I enjoy pu-erh tea.

This little pillow of pu-erh is one of four that came in my little ‘milk carton’ box from Wymm Tea.

When it comes to pu-erh, though, I find that I tend to prefer sheng to shou.  What’s the difference?  Well, I’m no expert on the subject of pu-erh, but what I’ve come to understand is that sheng tea is raw tea material that has been aged while shou tea is cooked tea material which seems to accelerate the aging process a bit.  Why do I prefer sheng?  Because while my experience with pu-erh is rather limited (again, I’m no expert!), my limited experience has taught me that shou pu-erh tends to be the pu-erh that sometimes has a briny or fishy flavor and the shou pu-erh tends to be the earthiest tasting (as in, it sometimes tastes of dirt).

But NOT this shou!  This is LOVELY!  This is so lovely that it has me rethinking my stance on pu-erh!

Sweet!  Mellow!  Smooth!  All those words come to mind as I sip this.  I taste no brine, no fish, no strong earthy dirty flavors.  Just wonderfully mellow flavors.  A sweet honeyed undertone with hints of burnt sugar caramel.  I taste notes of earth but not dirt.  This is more like damp, woodsy notes, evoking thoughts of a walk through the old-growth forests here in the Pacific Northwest after it rained.  (We get some rain up here.)

I also taste very subtle hints of rice.  The description of the tea suggests a jasmine rice note, I don’t know if it’s jasmine rice that I taste (I’m very familiar with jasmine rice as it’s my go-to rice in my pantry), but then again, this is only my first cup – perhaps those flavors will reveal themselves in later infusions.  For now, I find myself in awe of the beautiful honey notes.  So sweet.  So delightful.

With my second cup, those aforementioned jasmine rice notes begin to emerge.  I taste less of that honey flavor, but more of the sweet rice flavor and that’s quite pleasant.  The flavor is still very mellow and smooth but it’s deeper and stronger than the first cup.  I taste notes of burnt sugar and rice, hints of flower and a soft woodsy note. I love that there’s not even a hint of astringency or bitterness here.  Just lovely!

I enjoyed this tea immensely!  The later infusions (I got eight infusions out of this tea!) were just as mellow and smooth – but with each infusion, I found a deeper flavor.  I never really experienced any strong earthy notes – bonus! – and I enjoyed a lovely sweetness from the notes of rice and hints of molasses and honey.  A truly remarkable shou!  This is the shou I’d recommend to someone who has had some unfavorable experiences in the past with shou pu-erh, this tea will change your mind about shou!

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K-cups

A Tea Addict's Journal - Thu, 05/21/2015 - 22:33

Many of you have probably seen these machines, some of you probably use it on a regular basis at work or at home, and others have most likely at least heard about it. Keurig is one of these companies that make single-use pods for caffeinated (mostly) drinks. You stick the cup in the machine, you press a button, and out comes a cup of whatever it is that you were promised. Sounds good enough? I remember we had one of these almost 15 years ago at my workplace then, when these were still pretty novel. I never used it, of course, because back then the selection was almost entirely coffee. Nowadays they have everything you can name, and are much more common than before. The other big player in this market is Nespresso, of course, which is more common in Hong Kong but based on more or less the same idea.

This machine you see here was in our hotel room on a recent trip we made back to North America. Among the cups we got in the room were the above two – a Tazo Awake tea (basically an English breakfast blend) and a Celestial Seasonings Antioxidant Green Tea. In the name of science, I had to try them.

Brewing the tea was of course pretty simple – you stick the cups in, you put water in, you press the button. Then out comes the tea. The first thing you might notice from this picture is that the green tea is really, really cloudy, while the black tea was ok, for the most part. If you were there, you’ll also note that the green tea is almost entirely devoid of any aroma – you can barely smell anything putting your nose up against the cup. The black tea was a little better, with a smell that is recognizable as an English breakfast blend of sorts.

The taste pretty much confirms what you can already guess – the green tea, if we can even call it that, was awful. The closest thing I’ve tasted that is like this is a really stale, really old green tea. It’s bitter, it’s devoid of any meaningful flavour, and it’s just…. plain nasty. I don’t discount the possibility that, in this small town hotel, the green tea has indeed been sitting around for a while. However, since they dropped off this pod at our request, that this could’ve been recycled multiple times also seems somewhat unlikely.

The black tea was drinkable – it’s not great by any stretch of imagination, but it’s drinkable. If in a pinch, I’d be ok with drinking this. If your alternative is a teabag from pretty much anywhere else, the teabag will win. The body of this cup is also quite thin, with a weak aroma and a weird aftertaste. It’s not spit-it-out bad (the way the green tea is) but it’s not exactly a winner.

I of course had no expectation of great tea coming in. You can pretty much guess this is tea of the nasty-grade variety. I was a bit surprised that the green tea is this bad – I expected something remotely drinkable, but instead got a flavourless bitter pill, basically. The leaves they use are of course teabag grade – you can see it’s the usual materials you find in teabags. I think the infusion method, which uses a drip-coffee style mini-filter, just doesn’t work for tea.

On the Keurig website, buyers have rated the Tazo k-cup a 5 star. The Celestial Seasonings green tea, on the other hand, is 3.5 star. As you know, a 3.5 star rating is pretty much crap in the online world. Glad to know the buyers are somewhat discerning. It’s no wonder that they need to add the word “antioxidant” in there – the tea is not going to sell itself.

The thing that gets me about these things is cost. One k-cup will set you back about 90 cents USD per cup. In contrast, a teabag will be about 30 cents per cup if you buy one box, dropping to 20 cents if you are willing to buy in bulk (prices from Amazon). The green tea is a bit cheaper, but that thing shouldn’t be drunk even if it’s free. That means the k-cups are easily 3-4 times more expensive than the traditional teabag, yet it delivers a far inferior product. I would argue it’s really not much more convenient than a teabag either – unlike coffee, which is a bit of a pain to make on a per-cup basis, tea is actually quite easy to handle. In other words, get some teabags and stop paying extra for a terrible cup of tea.

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