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Rooibos Cinnamon Vanilla Tisane from Tea of Life

SororiTEA Sisters - Sun, 08/24/2014 - 03:59

Tisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Herbal

Tisane Description:

Pronounced “roy-boss” and means “red bush” in Afrkaans, studies have shown this tea is comparable to green tea in the amounts of EGCG it contains.  Rooibos is totally pure and natural.  It contains no colorants or preservatives.

And Rooibos tastes divine!  It is less bitter than most teas.

Learn more about Tea of Life and Amazon Teas here.

Taster’s Review:

I confess that the first time I had a cup of this tisane, I accidentally oversteeped it.  I had started it brewing and walked away and forgot about it.  Some twenty to twenty five minutes later, I remembered it.  Fortunately, it’s a rooibos blend and rooibos doesn’t get bitter the way a tea (Camellia Sinensis) would.

However, I didn’t figure it would be a fair assessment to write this review based upon that steeping, so I waited until the next evening (tonight!) to try brewing it for my usual steep time for a rooibos tisane (ten minutes) and this time actually setting a timer for it.

And while this review will be based upon my cup from the 10 minute steep, I will also add some thoughts on the cup that steeped longer.  (Both cups were steeped with 195°F water.)

This is a very flavorful rooibos blend.  It seems a simple enough combination:  rooibos, vanilla and cinnamon.  This combination makes me think “Snickerdoodle” and well, it does have a snickerdoodle-ish taste to it.  The rooibos has a sweet, nutty flavor to it, and when combined with the vanilla and cinnamon, the result is a taste that’s a lot like the classic cookie.

The cinnamon is a warm but not spicy cinnamon taste, and one that marries well with the sweet, creamy notes of vanilla as well as the warm, honey-like sweetness of the rooibos.  It’s a pleasant cup of tea that’s not too sweet, but makes a nice late-night snack if you’re craving something just a little sweet but don’t want to wreck your diet by indulging in a real snickerdoodle cookie.  This tea makes a tasty and healthier substitute.

Milk Oolong Tea from Simple Loose Leaf

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 08/23/2014 - 16:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Learn more about Simple Loose Leaf here.

Tea Description:

Upon opening the bag, you’ll be greeted with a heavy scent of fresh, sweet cream.  We crafted our Milk Oolong by blending our Green Jin Xuan with natural milk flavors for a delightful, creamier taste that’s sure to please.

Ingredients:  Green Jin Xuan, Natural Milk Flavors

Learn more about this tea here.

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

Save 25% off when you sign up for the Selection Club.  Use the coupon code SISTERSELECTION25 when you join.  This discount is applicable only to the monthly Selection Club subscription and not the retail selection of teas.

Taster’s Review:

I’ve been spouting praises about Simple Loose Leaf for quite some time now, and the reason is simple:  every month, I open my mailbox to a package containing five different tea samplers.  I like that.  It’s what I call happy mail.  It’s happy mail because it makes me happy.  It’s not a bill.  It’s not junk mail.  It’s TEA!  What could be better than that?

Well, one thing that’s better than receiving the tea is actually brewing it and drinking it.  And this Milk Oolong from my August Selection Club box is an absolute delight to sip!

Sweet, creamy … luscious!

A Jin Xuan Oolong is the tea that is generally referred to “Milk Oolong” because of it’s naturally creamy, milky flavor.  Simple Loose Leaf has taken this one step further and added natural milk flavors to give it a very creamy, decadent flavor that goes beyond the natural flavors in the Jin Xuan.

In the tea community, there is some debate on whether or not this flavoring should actually be done.  I find that I enjoy both the pure Jin Xuan and the flavored Milk Oolong so long as the flavoring is a quality flavoring, and this tastes like it’s a good quality product.

My first two infusions (following a 15 second rinse) were combined to make my first cup.  And the first cup is very creamy and sweet.  A background note of nutty flavor and a light vegetal tone.  Later infusions were not quite as creamy – some of the creamy notes begin to lighten up as I continued to steep the leaves.  This allowed for some beautiful floral notes to emerge.  Lily?  Orchid?  Somewhere between the two.  Lovely!

A true delight – this Milk Oolong from Simple Loose Leaf’s August Box!  If you haven’t yet joined the Selection Club, well, why not?  It’s a great service from a company that provides exceptional customer service.  A win-win!

Organic Cranberry Lemon Black Tea Blend from Boston Tea Co.

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 08/23/2014 - 03:59

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  The Boston Tea Co.

Tea Description:

Enjoy this tartfully-sweet tea whether it’s morning, noon, or night! The perfect blend of our premium organic Chinese and Indian black teas with organic cranberries and lemon will leave you taste buds dancing with delight!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I wasn’t sure how I would like this blend, because even though I’ve enjoyed many cranberry flavored teas as well as quite a few lemon flavored teas – to have these two tart fruit flavors together in one tea seemed a little too tarty for me.

But this is alright.  It’s not my favorite tea that I’ve tasted from Boston Tea Company, but, I’m enjoying it.  The flavors of cranberry and lemon go together surprisingly well.  I usually see cranberry and orange as a combination but seldom do I see cranberry and lemon.  And it’s a nice combination.  Yeah, it’s tart, but it’s still tasty.

I think what really saves this tea for me and makes it tasty instead of way too tarty is the black tea base.  It’s a smooth, robust black tea.  I taste sweet notes of malt and these sweeter notes of the tea as well as it’s strong, bold taste seems to take some of the attention off the fact that we have two sour fruit flavors in this blend.

Not that the tea base overpowers the fruit notes, but, it manages to curb some of the really sour notes so that it tastes just a little less tart than I anticipated it to taste.  So I’m able to experience some of the sweeter notes of the berry and the bright, refreshing flavor of the lemon without feeling that urge to pucker when I take a sip.

I steeped one of these silky pyramids in boiling water for 3 minutes.  It produced a flavorful, aromatic cup that is not too tart, but it is a bit more tart than it is sweet, so if you’re one who fancies a sweeter cup, you might want to add just a pinch of sweetener to soften the sour just a bit.  I enjoyed it as is, and I tend to be a little sensitive to tart flavors.  This tea just “toes the line” at being a little too tart.  It’s very tart but not quite there.

Overall, a pleasant tea – this makes a really tasty and refreshing iced tea.  I think this is even better iced than hot – the tart notes mellow out just a little bit and make for a very smooth and juicy tasting drink.

Peruvian Spiced Berry Tisane from Inca Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 08/22/2014 - 16:00

Tisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Fruit/Herbal Tea

Where to Buy:  Inca Tea

Tisane Description:

This is our Original blend to characterize the true ancient Incan recipe. 

INGREDIENTS:  Hibiscus Petals, Elderberries, Currants, Purple Corn, Apple Pieces, Pineapple Pieces, Cinnamon, Cloves and Natural Flavors. This is the tea that the founder Ryan came across during his hike. Its is an enlivening herbal, fruit tea blend of purple corn, berries and spices.

Learn more about this tisane here.

Taster’s Review:

I wasn’t sure exactly what to think about this new tea made with purple corn!  Weird, right?  But, I decided that I had to give it a try.  It was just weird enough.  Not so weird that I’m put off by the thought of it, but weird enough that I’m really intrigued!

The aroma of the dry leaf is spicy and sweet.  I can smell the cinnamon and cloves, and the sweet notes of pineapple and berries.  I steeped the pyramid sachet for 6 minutes (I don’t usually go over 6 minutes with hibiscus blends because I don’t want the tisane to become too syrupy) in 195°F water.

The brewed liquid is a dark plum color (hibiscus!) and smells of spiced fruit.  The cinnamon and cloves are still a dominant scent to this, but I like that it’s not overwhelmingly spicy.  The fruit notes come through nicely, smelling a bit like a spiced berry compote.

Tasty!  Really tasty!

This Peruvian Spiced Berry is the first of the teas created by Inca Tea.  It’s their “original.”  And it certainly is original, because as I said, I can’t recall ever encountering a tea that is made with purple corn.  And Inca Tea’s original is a tasty offering!  I am really enjoying the combination of berry flavors and spice.

I taste a bit of corn in this too!  The corn adds more of a nutty, grainy sort of background note than a strong, obvious “corn” flavor.  This ends up tasting a bit like a liquefied spiced berry cobbler – YUM!

Yes, there’s hibiscus and rosehips in this, and this would ordinarily make for a tart cup, but the warmth of the spices and the sweetness from the apple and pineapple soften those tart notes so that the tartness of these herbs does more to accentuate the berry flavors rather than stand out on their own.  There’s still some tartness, but it’s a berry tart rather than a hibiscus tart that I’m tasting.

There is some texture to the cup too, but it’s not coming off as syrupy.  It’s pleasantly thick without feeling as though my tongue is coated with hibiscus syrup.

I really enjoyed this – my first experience with Inca Tea!  I will be trying more from them – and I’m looking forward to it!

JusTea Tea Star

Tea For Me Please - Fri, 08/22/2014 - 16:00
Country of Origin: Kenya
Leaf Appearance: dark, pressed flat
Ingredients: oolong tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 200 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain teacup
Liquor: amber

When I saw this tea star at World Tea Expo I was really fascinated by it. At first glance you might think that is a typical flowering tea. However, it is actually hand tied Kenyan oolong. Doubly exciting! The guys at +Jus Tea told me a funny story about the naming of this tea. Originally their workers called it buibui, the Swahili word for spider, because that's what they thought it resembled. After a bit of refinement their star was born. Although it doesn't blossom in the traditional sense, the leaves did expand quite a bit after steeping. The string made it easy and mess free to steep a cup even when I was in a rush. The taste was mellow with sweet fruity and floral notes. Overall it was a very smooth and enjoyable tea. There was no bitterness or astringency to speak of. Milk and sugar would not be advisable with this one but neither is needed at all. For another fun review of this tea, check out the thoughts of my friend, Oolong Owl.

I interviewed Britta from their team on Episode 2 of my podcast last year. Make sure you check that out if you haven't already!

Tea Star sample received from JusTea at World Tea Expo.
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Reprise: Teaching Tea

T Ching - Fri, 08/22/2014 - 12:04

 

How would it be, us teaching tea,
To whomever presented themselves ready?

Inviting them in to share our space.
A warm and relaxed look on our face.

Getting the water temp just so.
It affects the taste of the tea, you know.

On an adventure, we smell and choose.
Should we use bagged or something loose?

What kind of journey shall we take today?
A jasmine garden or the streets of Mumbai?

Listening close to the student who came,
Making you teacher of this tea game.

Brewing and tasting to bring out the best.
The delicate leaves will fulfill their quest.

Choose the cup which appeals to you.
A simple mug or a china blue?

Now we relax as we adore,
The sights and scents of the tea we pour.

Sipping and talking, enjoying the time.
Going slowly with tea is so sublime.

Something we notice when teaching tea,
Is that tea is the teacher which teaches thee.

©2011 Joanna DeRungs

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 This lovely poem was first published on T Ching on 10 January 2011, titled “Teaching Tea.”  We hope you enjoy it as much this time!

The post Reprise: Teaching Tea appeared first on T Ching.

Wildberries Flavored Green Iced Tea from Southern Boy Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 08/22/2014 - 03:59

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Zoomdweebies

Tea Description:

Wildberries = Blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, strawberry, elderberry, and black currant. Premium Organic green tea with organic flavors.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Here it is … my first review of one of Southern Boy Teas green tea creations.  I was excited to learn of SBT’s expansion into other tea types – they’re not just black teas anymore – since I usually prefer green or white iced teas (I find them more refreshing than black tea).

And this Wildberries Flavored Green Tea is VERY refreshing.  Mmm!  It’s bursting with berry flavor.  My first sip I could really taste the elderberry and black currant flavors.  In the aftertaste, I started to pick up on the other berry flavors, strawberry, blackberry and raspberry are the flavors that seem to tickle the palate in the aftertaste, with an emphasis on the raspberry notes.

The blueberry is a little less conspicuous.

As I continue to sip, I start to notice more of the berry flavor throughout the sip, not just the elderberry and currant.  Now I’m tasting more blackberry, strawberry and raspberry throughout the sip, and I can even pick up on some blueberry notes.

And the green tea base is ideal for these flavors because it’s a lighter tasting base.  I feel that a black tea base might be a little bit too much.  It could work, and I’d certainly be more than happy to try it, but I like the softer flavor of the sweet green tea with light buttery notes and how the green tea allows the berry flavors to really express themselves fully, while not hiding off in the background.  I still taste the green tea, but it doesn’t intrude upon the berry notes.  It’s a very lovely balance that’s been achieved.

To brew this, I went ahead and used the “hot brew” method.  I filled my kettle with one quart of water and heat it to 175°F.  Then I allowed the sachet to infuse for 1 1/2 minutes.  Then I poured the hot liquid into my tempered glass pitcher (to temper it, I just run it under hot tap water for about a minute to get the glass warm so that the hot liquid doesn’t shock the glass and cause it to break).  Repeat with another quart of water heated to 175°F, this time allowing the sachet to steep for 2 full minutes.  Then I stashed the sachet in an airtight container and put it in the refrigerator to see how a resteep would taste.

The verdict:  The resteep is still VERY flavorful.  Almost – if not just as – flavorful as the first half gallon that I prepared.  This tea is a winner!  It’s one that I’ll be getting more of!

Silver Tip White Tea from P.M.David Silva & Sons

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 16:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  White

Where to Buy:  PMD (P.M.David Silva & Sons)

Tea Description: 

Silver Tips has long been the preserve of Kings and connoisseurs. This exclusive white tea follows a truly unique production process. Before sunrise, specialist tea pluckers select the most tender buds of only the finest tea bushes. It is essential that the master tea maker uses all his expertise, patience and effort to transform the buds into Silver Tips – it takes 5 kilos of buds to produce 1 kilo of Silver Tips.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

These leaves are absolutely gorgeous!  They’re pale green and the edges are silvery.  The leaves are soft to the touch and I can feel the fluffy down-like particles on the leaves.  The aroma is delicate and lightly vegetal, reminiscent of hay.

And the flavor is delightful.  So sweet!  Smooth, light and refreshing!  Even when served hot, I can feel it cool me, which is greatly appreciated on this hot summer day.  It is very soothing and calming to sip.  This is the kind of tea I want to reach for on one of those days when things just aren’t going my way.  This tea will turn everything around!

The sweetness is almost like raw cane sugar!  There are notes of melon and the softest hint of sweet apple.  A light vegetal taste – but oh so subtle!  It is barely there and hard to pick up on unless I slurp the sip to aerate it.

It’s a very refreshing beverage.  I feel it relax me as I drink it.

To brew this tea, I approached it the way I approach most white teas.  I use a low temperature (170°F) and steep it for 4 minutes.  This produces a very enjoyable flavor that is delicate and delicious.  But don’t mistake the word “delicate” for lacking in flavor, because this certainly does not lack in flavor.  There is a whole lot of flavor in this cup!

This is a superb Silver Tip (aka Silver Needle) tea, and I’m not at all surprised that it came from P.M.David Silva & Sons because so far, I’ve been blown away with the quality that I’ve tasted from this company.  I highly recommend checking them out!

Awesome Tea Creators of YouTube

Tea For Me Please - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 16:00
I'm always on the look out for fun and interesting YouTube videos that revolve around my favorite topic (tea!). Recently I've discovered some folks who are doing really cool things so I thought that I would share them with you. These are channels that I subscribe to and their content is primarily tea oriented. Some are people that I consider close friends, some of them are total strangers. That's the beauty of the internet getting together with tea. It brings us all together :)

I'm sure that there are some people that I missed so let me know in the comments if there is a channel that I should add to this post!

Tea DB
You might remember these guys from when I interviewed them on my podcast. James and Denny definitely hold the record for the most videos made. They're on episode 66! I really enjoy their chemistry and tea nerd tendencies.

Tea Sisters
This channel makes me wish my sister liked tea. Nicolette and Sophia are an adorably dynamic duo who puts together some really creative content.


The Snooty Tea Person
If you love tea puns, I've got the YouTube channel for you. The Snooty Tea Person is best described by her tag line: Answers. Anecdotes. An-tea-oxidants.

Tea Avenger
I originally found Tea Avenger through their Tumblr blog. She's only got a few videos under her belt but I really enjoyed the Tea of the Day features.


Kathy YL Chan
Fellow blogger Kathy YL Chan has put together a series of great instructional videos involving tea. Some of the recipes sound and look absolutely delicious.
Lazy Literatus
Long time tea friend Geoff Norman has made some very entertaining videos where he reviews tea as Batman. Need I say more?


Tea Geek
Tea Geek is the host of a show called Let's Talk Tea. They've had a handful of episodes so far but they've all been very thought provoking.

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Iced tea vs. hot tea: which is better on a hot day?

T Ching - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 12:01

We’ve nearly reached the peak of the summer, and it is hot in most places around the country, even here in the Pacific Northwest. With there being no sign of the temperatures diminishing anytime soon, most people would be inclined to reach for a chilled glass of iced tea or even a frozen tea infusion. Besides, some of the coolest iced tea makers, gadgets and flavors of tea come out around this time of year, so why not try them out? Likewise, it provides us tea lovers with an excuse to change up our hot tea routine and try something new or different.

However, you’ve also likely heard that it is actually better to drink hot tea rather than iced tea on a sweltering day. While this theory has been floating around for quite some time, I decided to do a little research and testing myself to determine if this is a valuable piece of advice or just an old wives’ tale.

The Rumor is True?

Apparently I am not the only one who has wondered about the validity of this rumor. When I began researching the topic to determine if there was any scientific evidence in favor it, I was surprised to find a couple of different scientists had studied the effects of drinking a hot beverages on a hot day. However, what was even more startling was that this speculation seems to be true.

Peter McNaughton, a neuroscientist at the University of Cambridge, told National Public Radio that while drinking something hot to cool off on a hot day sounds counterintuitive, it does actually work. The science behind why it works is that drinking hot tea activates the TRPV1 receptor in your tongue that responds to heat. This receptor then sends a message to your brain telling it that is hot, which in turn causes your brain to turn on your body’s natural cooling system, sweating, to reduce your body’s core temperature. According to McNaughton, “The hot drink somehow has an effect on your systemic cooling mechanism, which exceeds its actual effect in terms of heating your body.” As such, it is not so much the components in tea that cause you to cool down, but rather the hot temperature of the tea that serves as a catalyst to activate your body’s sweating mechanism.

One Caveat

While drinking hot tea will help you cool down on a hot day in theory, there is a caveat to this cooling method. Ollie Jay, a researcher at University of Ottawa’s School of Human Kinetics explains, “If you drink a hot drink, it does result in a lower amount of heat stored inside your body, provided the additional sweat that’s produced when you drink the hot drink can evaporate.” This idea collaborates the theory presented by McNaughton that the hot drink will increase your overall body temperature, but that this increase is more than compensated for by the amount you can decrease your body temperature by your sweat evaporating. All that sweat may seem annoying, but a large amount of sweat means more cooling.

The caveat is drinking hot tea on a hot day will only work if the extra sweat produced from drinking the tea is actually able to evaporate. If the extra sweat you produce can’t evaporate, you won’t feel any cooler. Jay states: “On a very hot and humid day, if you’re wearing a lot of clothing, or if you’re having so much sweat that it starts to drip on the ground and doesn’t evaporate from the skin’s surface, then drinking a hot drink is a very bad thing. The hot drink still does add a little heat to the body, so if the sweat’s not going to assist in evaporation, go for a cold drink.” Therefore, if you live in a climate where there are hot, dry days, drinking hot tea will likely help you cool down. However, if you live in a humid climate, you might want to stick with iced tea.

That’s Fine in Theory . . . 

While I am not one to doubt the theories of acclaimed scientists, the fun part about doing a research experiment is being able to try it out for yourself.  Thus, on a recent morning when I could already feel the temperature beginning to climb, I decided to sit down for a cup of hot tea. Interestingly, the tea didn’t cool me down, but it didn’t cause me to sweat excessively. Perhaps I’m not sensitive enough to the change in temperature or maybe it just wasn’t hot enough outside yet.

An alternative explanation could be that there is a psychological aspect to whether a hot or cold drink is the most effective method for cooling off when it is hot. Having grown up in the United States where cold drinks are practically de rigueur on hot days, I’ll be the first to admit I’m inclined to go for an iced tea in the summer. However, in many other countries, particularly ones that have consistently hot climates, quite the opposite is true and a hot drink is their go-to. Ultimately, neither approach would have gained popularity in their respective areas if they weren’t deemed at least somewhat effective. As such, it seems either option is acceptable. If you enjoy iced tea, brew it up by the gallon full using one of the many creative brew methods that are featured online during the summer. The same goes for hot tea, if you prefer your tea brewed this way, start your day with a piping cup. Or, if you are feeling brave, try drinking whichever tea you don’t usually drink and see if it makes a difference. As for me, I’ll continue to experiment and will be drinking my tea both hot and cold this summer.

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The post Iced tea vs. hot tea: which is better on a hot day? appeared first on T Ching.

C of Tranquilitea Herbal Tisane from Good Life Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 03:59

Tisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Fruit/Herbal Tisane

Where to Buy:  Good Life Tea

Tisane Description:

Luscious hibiscus flowers join with subtle citrus notes of lemongrass and tart rose hips. Add the superfruits and chamomile and you’ve got one bedtime immune system booster!

Learn more about this blend here.

Taster’s Review: 

If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you’re probably well aware of my lack of enthusiasm for herbal tisanes that contain hibiscus and chamomile.  Well, this blend has both of them.  So as you can probably imagine, I wasn’t dancing the happy dance while I was brewing this.

But, it’s actually quite tasty!  A lot nicer than I expected it to be, for sure, and much tastier than I would have imagined.

This is the first tea that I’m trying from this “new-to-me” company, and along with the teas that they sent to me, they sent a letter.  In it, they described this blend this way:

This is a fruit and herbal blend.  It has a nice blueberry base with Chamomile and Lemon Grass.  The name is from a place on the moon where the Apollo landed – Sea of Tranquility.  The name is a play on words.  C is for the Vitamin C which the hibiscus and rosehips offer.  Tranquilitea is the chamomile.  It’s a great flower that promotes calmness and helps with sleep.  This is our second most popular tea.  The lemon grass is to give a nice, bright finish.  This mix contains a little bit of Amber sugar to mellow it out.

While I’m generally not crazy about teas that include sugar or sweetener, I have to admit that I’m kind of glad that the Amber sugar is there, because I think that this would be a bit too tart without it.  I’m not one who usually sweetens a tisane like this, and I know that if the sugar wasn’t there, I would have probably wanted to add a pinch of sugar to it to tame down the tartness.

That said, I do prefer to decide how much sugar I’m adding to my cup.  So, I’m kind of finding myself unsure of how I feel about this addition.  I’m glad that this wasn’t too tart when I took my first sip, but, at the same time, I’m not thrilled that sugar was added to the tisane.  But without dwelling on the subject too long, I’ll tell you about the rest of what I’m tasting…

This tisane is pleasantly sweet and fruity.  I’m liking the blueberry, and as much as I am not fond of hibiscus, I have to admit that hibiscus DOES enhance berry flavors.  And it does enhance the blueberry nicely.  I am getting the sweet blueberry flavor with a touch of berry tartness.  The lemongrass adds just a hint of citrus flavor and perks up the flavors.

I can barely taste the chamomile.  In fact, this would be the ideal blend for someone who doesn’t like chamomile but wants to drink chamomile teas for their restful/healthful properties, because like I said, the chamomile is barely noticeable as far as taste goes.

To brew this, I went with my go-to temperature of 195°F for herbals and steeped it for six minutes.  I find that six minutes was a good time – it delivered a really delicious blueberry flavor with light citrus-y notes without too much hibiscus-y taste or texture.

Overall, this is a pleasant cup of tea.  It’s soothing and sweet, with just the right level of tartness to it.   And to my surprise, as I’m typing this, I find myself becoming slightly drowsy from the tea!  That’s a big bonus in my book.

Making Friends Over Teatime - Barb's TEA Shop in September/October Tea Time Magazine

Barb's Tea Shop - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 01:17
The Tea Diaries features Barb's Tea Shop blogger
The September/October issue of Tea Time Magazine hit newsstands yesterday and we confess, this is going to be one of our all-time favorites. Not only does this issue feature Michigan tea rooms, but also a contribution to "The Tea Diaries" from the writer of this blog. I feel very fortunate to be included in this prized magazine along with some of my favorite tea rooms in my home state, including Birmingham's Townsend Hotel and Ann Arbor's TeaHaus.



 Although the highlighted tea venues in this edition are those in the Mitten state, my article is about said blog writer and a meet-up with a Denver tea lady that I met through an earlier issue of Tea Time that featured historic places in the west to have tea.

Townsend Hotel is in Tea Time. Rachel & I presented a tea etiquette program there in June
The Molly Brown House in Denver was spotlighted in last year's March/April edition of Tea Time and Penelope Carlevato, author of "Tea on the Titantic" was to be a guest speaker at the Denver historic home the weekend I was visiting family in Colorado. (See my blog entry "Gracious Gift of Hospitality: Afternoon tea with author of 'Tea on the Titanic'"). A few phone calls and emails later, I was invited to afternoon tea at Penelope's home and became fast friends over scones and earl grey.

Afternoon tea with Penelope Carlevato (center) & sister-in-law, Cara
I've been subscribing to Tea Time Magazine for years and I can't wait until it shows up in my mailbox every other month. I get inspired by the beautiful, glossy photographs of  tablescapes and tea-travel destinations and my daughter delights in recreating the many delicious recipes. I've used this periodical as a resource, a motivator, an escape and a connection to the tea community around the world. It's nice to be included in an issue of my favorite magazine that focuses on tea places in my own backyard - and I hope it opens doors to others who may want to "make tea friends" in Detroit.

We'd love for you to visit our new website - http://barbsteashop.com

Summer Garden Citrus Mint Blend from Verdant Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 08/20/2014 - 16:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green & Oolong Teas

Where to Buy:  Verdant Tea

Tea Description:

Summer calls for a blend that’s crisp, sweet, and tangy enough to be a showstopping iced tea. We wanted to do something a little different to celebrate the season, so we sourced a beautiful Wenshan Baozhong Taiwanese oolong tea as the base of our recipe. Wenshan Baozhong is an extremely green oolong, full of grassy notes, but with floral and creamy aftertastes. Mixed with a dash of Yunnan Jingshan Green to round out the body, we think this makes the perfect green base for summer.

To bring out the fruity and floral notes naturally present in Wenshan Baozhong, we picked out creamy and sweet orange peel, rich lemongrass and a juicy bergamot. We use roasted dandelion root and licorice root to draw out the sweetness and help you make a satisfying iced tea- no sugar necessary! Finally, we make it crisp and refreshing with a dash of lavender and spearmint. Enjoy!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Wow!  This tea really is the perfect summer refreshment.  This summer has been so hot and uncomfortably muggy that there have been times when I couldn’t bear to brew a pot of hot tea because even though I know that hot tea tends to be more cooling than a cold drink, I couldn’t bring myself to brewing something hot to drink.  Thank goodness I had a pitcher of iced tea in the fridge for times like that.

This!  This tea would make a perfect iced tea.  I’m drinking it hot right now, and even served hot, it’s incredibly refreshing.  The base of Yunnan Jinshan Green and Wenshan Baozhong Oolong makes for a wonderful sweet and light flavor with a lovely creamy texture.  It’s lightly vegetal with just the right buttery note.

The lemon grass, orange peel and touch of bergamot adds a bright citrus note.  The bergamot does not give this an Earl Grey-ish sort of flavor, but instead just enhances the sunny citrus flavors with it’s zesty character.  I don’t know that I necessarily taste the dandelion root, although I do taste a toasty, nutty flavor which may be the presence of the roasted dandelion root.  I also don’t taste a lot of licorice.  But I do get a nice sweetness here – it’s pleasantly sweet without the addition of sweetener.

But the real star of this cup is the spearmint.  It adds just the right touch of crisp, cool minty flavor without getting too aggressive.  It doesn’t overpower … everything tastes very harmonious.  This tea is named perfectly:  Summer Garden Citrus Mint Blend.  I taste fresh leafy notes, citrus, mint.  It’s a beautifully smooth and enjoyable cup.

I can’t wait to be drinking this one chilled tomorrow!  YUM!

Lochan Tea Doke Black Fusion 2014

Tea For Me Please - Wed, 08/20/2014 - 16:00
Country of Origin: India
Leaf Appearance: dark, wiry with golden tips
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 2 minutes
Water Temperature: 205 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain infuser mug
Liquor: dark amber

One thing that I love about the teas that I've tried from +Lochan Tea Limited is that they are never quite what I expected. Of course, I mean that in the best way possible. The dry leaves were mostly whole with some golden tips interspersed. I was surprised to find a depth and complexity that I've never really gotten from an Indian grown black tea before. The taste was robust with notes of molasses, rose and a pleasant bit of maltiness. It wasn't exactly what I would describe as sweet but it had a unique sugary mouth-feel. I drank this on an unusually rainy and windy night and it really hit the spot. Even though this is a fairly full bodied tea I have to strongly suggest giving it a go without any additives. You would be robbing yourself of many of its nuances. There was some astringency but it never crossed the line into bitter or unpleasant.

Doke Black Fusion 2014 sample provided by Lochan Tea.
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Gongfu Tea Tips from Global Tea Hut

T Ching - Wed, 08/20/2014 - 12:03

In a life of tea, one will brew tea for many kinds of people in many different situations.

There will be deep and serene tea, celebratory tea—making new friends and celebrating the old—tea indoors and outdoors, in familiar and unfamiliar settings and so much more. Throughout our journey, it is important to remember that this is not a tradition of making tea, but of serving it! We are here to serve the awakening of our guests, or even the vanishing of guest and host in one heart space. Consequently, it is central to all our tea brewing that we stay centered in the heart, and view connection as our highest aim: connection to Great Nature, our own true and higher self and connection to others.

Every guest we serve will be a reflection of our world and our selves. And not every guest will be a Chajin (tea person). Those who aren’t may not understand the etiquette at tea sessions. It is important not to be judgmental, as that won’t facilitate our highest aim of creating a heart space to connect. Sometimes we can gently inform our guest of a better way of being a guest, showing respect and helping further the magic of the tea ceremony; but most of the time, we will just have to forgive and move on—to be tolerant and patient, remembering that we are here to serve, and the true servant serves in whatever way is needed. If you can help someone learn more about how to be a guest, do so kindly and in private so you don’t embarrass them in front of the other guests.

As Chajin, however, there are certain etiquettes that we should practice when we are guests. These principals help us show our host respect; and, more importantly, demonstrate a respect for the session itself, which encourages the Tea’s healing qualities. Here are a few guidelines you can practice, as a person of tea, when attending other people’s tea sessions. (Remember to be patient if you encounter any of these when you’re serving tea!):

1) Never wear perfume, cologne or essential oils. Such aromas interfere with the flavor and smell of tea, clouding other guests’ ability to fully appreciate their tea. It is often the flavor and aroma of tea that first introduces tea spirit and life to a person, maybe changing them forever.

2) Don’t shake the tea. People often want to shake the tea jar/bag/container when they are unable to smell it. This disturbs the tea and potentially breaks the leaves. If the tea’s aroma is too subtle, try calming down, breathing deeply and relaxing—going down to its frequency rather than trying to shake it up to yours.

3) If you get up and then return to the table, pay attention to the rhythm of the cups/bowls. It is polite to watch the rhythm of the brewer and neither rush or slow them down when you are returning to the table. You might wait a round and drink with everyone else the next time, or sip slowly so they can catch up.

4) Pay attention to the energy that the brewer is trying to create and help encourage it. If the host is trying to help the session move into silence, help amplify that. If she is trying to move the tea in a certain energetic direction, help her to achieve that. This helps merge guest and host.

5) Don’t fragment conversation. It is much nicer when the guests at a tea session have one conversation. Chajin are attuned to this and keep the room together, rather than turning to the person next to them and starting a separate conversation, dividing the room.

These are just some of the ways you can show respect to the host of a tea session. There are many more. Also, these are just guidelines; not hard rules. It is important to be flexible and open to anything when serving or being served…

“A place to escape to When one cannot ease one’s cares in the mountains. The hut beneath the pine within the city.” —Toyohara Sumiaki

“Gongfu Tea Tips” by Wu De was first published by Global Tea Hut in July of 2013.

Global Tea Hut has generously granted permission to T Ching to publish past articles from their publication each week.  These will appear on Wednesdays.

MAIN:              Image 1 courtesy of the contributor.

The post Gongfu Tea Tips from Global Tea Hut appeared first on T Ching.

Tough Challenges for Tea Growers and the Fire at Darjeeling Ambootia Tea Garden Factory

Tea Time With A.C. Cargill - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 17:44
We often think (and bloggers like me write about) the challenges of steeping tea just right. But there are tough challenges behind the scenes, so to speak, and one of the most frightening is the tea garden fire. Tea garden fires are nothing new, and the latest one at the Darjeeling garden of Ambootia is quite a tragedy. See full story here. It doesn’t say if any of the employees were injured. What it does say is how the fire was worse due to the local fire workers not being able to respond to their utmost (one of the fire trucks couldn’t pump water. It also says that their current harvest that had been partially processed was lost. Quite an economic challenge for all involved. (If you want to donate to help them over this hardship, go to the story linked above and write “I will support” in the comments – they are trying to assess whether to start a fund-raising campaign.)

One commenter intimated that the fire might have been purposeful. “Dewasish Gurung there was dispute going on for land some days back at ambotia...i can assure u all there is some evil minds behind this...there should be full fledged investigation on this...at least labours can call for it...same was the case with sonada railway station but nobody is concerned with it at all...btw "i support"...” See a story about the dispute here. [Ambootia map shown here is a still capture from the full map here: Darjeeling Garden Map on Camellia-sinensis.com Blog.]




About Ambootia Tea Garden

The Ambootia tea garden was first planted in 1861, a couple of years after the Makaibari tea garden. A sustained drop in prices forced a decision to let the garden go dormant for several years. The garden, with 370 acres of planted tea shrubs, was rejuvenated as prices rebounded (now at record-setting levels). Low-yield and diseased bushes, some as old as 100 years, have been removed. New plants, cloned from original “mother bushes,” are nurtured is rows until they are ready for transplanting in the fields. A tremendous amount of money was spent to revitalize the estate, including upgrading the entire factory to the latest standards in 2012, and it now supports over 4,000 people (workers and their families). Or it did before the fire.

© 2014 A.C. Cargill photos and text

Lime Cola Guayusa from Bluebird Tea Co.

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 16:00

Tisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Guayusa

Where to Buy:  Bluebird Tea Co.

Tisane Description:

Energy boosting Guayusa tea is blended with cola nut and linden leaves in this lime and cola flavoured tea blend. Guayusa is another one of those Amazonian energy charged super plants and Linden leaves (Lime) has been used for centuries to treat colds, fevers and inflamation.

Learn more about this blend here.

Taster’s Review:

It’s been a while since I’ve had a guayusa tisane, so when I saw that Bluebird Tea Co. had this Lime Cola Guayusa, I knew it was something that I just had to try!

Guayusa is an herb that has a high caffeine content, so it’s one of those tisanes that you should consume earlier in the day so that you’re not overstimulated as the day comes to an end.  I find that after I’ve consumed a cup of Guayusa, I’m much more alert and energized!

This is a tasty blend.  I don’t know if I’m getting a true “Lime Cola” taste out of this, but it does taste good.  Guayusa tends to have a slightly coffee-esque taste to it, but its smoother and not bitter the way a cup of joe tends to be.  And I do get that thinned coffee taste from the Guayusa here.

Then I taste lime!  It’s a bright, uplifting flavor that elevates the cup.  I taste the citrus notes throughout the sip and well into the aftertaste where I’m getting a little tarty tingle on the tongue.

I do get a slight cola-like flavor and this is especially noticeable as the drink cools.  While the drink is hot, though, I could barely taste any cola notes at all.  This definitely tastes better chilled!

Even though I didn’t get as much “Lime Cola” taste as I thought I would based on the name of this tisane, I did really enjoy this.  I found it tasty and of course, invigorating!  A really tasty blend!

Tea Journeyman Satemwa White Antlers

Tea For Me Please - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 16:00
Country of Origin: Malawi
Leaf Appearance: dark, twiggy
Ingredients: white tea stems
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 185 degrees
Preparation Method: glass teapot
Liquor: pale amber

Every once in a while I hear about a tea that I am dying to try and this one has definitely been one of those. I met the folks from Satemwa at World Tea Expo and was really impressed by how much they care for their staff. Unfortunately I visited at the end of the last day if the show so the leaves of this tea had been spent. As luck would have it, +Tea Journeyman Shop carries it so I was overjoyed to receive a sample. It is unusual in that it is from Malawi and because it is a white tea that is comprised entirely of stems. The taste was incredibly complex with dominant notes of honey and spice. There was also an interesting vanilla quality that lent a bit of creaminess. At first I was skeptical of the claim that this tea could be brewed five more times but it was really true. It maintained the aroma and flavor profile right up to the very end.

Satemwa White Antlers sample provided by Tea Journeyman.
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A thought on tea energy

T Ching - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 12:02

Chaqi (茶气), literally means “tea energy,” and is a frequently used word by Chinese tea people. This important characteristic of good tea goes beyond other characteristics such as taste, smell and shape. But what is Chaqi? It is a concept that people find indescribable. You always were told that Chaqi was beyond words; you have to sense it by yourself, for yourself.

The body of people would be different more or less, thus the sense of the tea would also be different.  I often heard one of my friends saying that she got sweaty when she was having a tea with Chaqi. In my case, if the tea has enough Chaqi, I would sometimes hiccup repeatedly.

It is from meditation practice that I have a new angle for seeing and understanding in my way to Chaqi. There is a skill in doing meditation as follows: first find the part of your body most contained. For example: some people might find their heart beating quickly as they become angry; some might find their kidneys reacting when they experience a huge upset; and some might find the muscles in the neck feeling stress as they prepare to take an important exam. Those parts are the first parts: reacting to your anger, upset and stress. Find this part of your body, this is the first step. Second, use breathing energy to fulfill this part, to take care of this part. Your body is like a spider web—the contained part of your body is the location of the spider, and other parts of your body are locations on the web. You pay most attention on the contained part, fulfilling your energy to that part;  but you, like the spider, can sense the light movement on the net of web vigilantly. In practicing this skill of meditation, my body’s reaction is similar to that of drinking a great tea with “big” Chaqi: I keep hiccupping.

According to Chinese medicine, mood is very much a result of stored, stagnated, or excessive qi (energy) in the body, revealing an imbalance of the body – not just the mind. It seems to me that this meditation skill of working on finding one’s body part in which qi is stagnated or excessive, regulate one’s qi, and help the blood circulation. If the regulation works effectively, it will result in a better mood, a higher tolerance for emotional upset and easily being happy.

Back to the topic of tea energy, or Chaqi. What is it? To me, it works like this kind of meditation to regulate the imbalance of the qi in the body. Only in the process of doing this kind of purposeful meditation while in the process of drinking tea,  my body naturally regulates the imbalance of qi. (I do not even pay attention to my body!) This might be the so called Chaqi? When the tea has the effect of regulating one’s qi, then we call the tea’s Chaqi “big”? Considering the original tea was used as Chinese medicine, these thoughts on Chaqi might be possible.

My thoughts on tea energy is an idea coming from the experience of practicing meditation. It is not an absolute conclusion on what Chaqi is, but based on my personal experience. I also believe people have different constitutions, thus their body’s reaction to Chaqi must be very different.

MAIN:              IMAGE 1: 

The post A thought on tea energy appeared first on T Ching.

LACMA - Dejeuners and Cabarets

The Tea Horse Road - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 07:00
Tea and coffee service in the 18th century were called Dejeuners and Cabarets.They were used to serve tea and coffee in bedrooms, boudoirs, salons or outdoors.

This service was a gift from the Empress Marie-Louise and the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.It was gifted to the emperor's sister Pauline - Princess Borghese.

Heavily guilded in the Sevres' Etruscan style.Floral still life's executed by the Dutch artist Georgius Jacobius Johannes  van Os - 1811.


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