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Leaf Type: Green
Where to Buy: Bluebird Tea Co.Tea Description:
This blend of roasted green tea, popped rice and toasty apples is a bit of a tea Marmite. Some are addicted to its grassy, savoury taste but it’s not for those with a sweet tooth. Don’t worry though, Genmaicha fans will absolutely love Bluebird’s unique twist on the classic Japanese ‘popcorn’ tea.
Learn more about this tea here.Taster’s Review:
This is a flavoured genmaicha blend from one of the UK’s few independent tea mixologists – Bluebird Tea Co. This blend has been around since the inception of the company, so it’s one of their “original” teas, so to speak. It’s probably fair to say that they’ve come along in leaps and bounds since then, but this blend stands the test of time.
The dry leaf contains pretty much a 50/50 mixture of toasted brown rice and roasted green tea. The base tea is a blend of Chinese and Japanese greens; the Japanese being Bancha and the Chinese unspecified. The leaves are fairly small – some are darker and rolled into thin tubes, others are a lighter green and folded in appearance. There are some pieces of popcorn, although few compared to some genmaicha blends I’ve tried. There’s a generous smattering of apple cubes throughout.
I used 1 tsp of leaf and gave it 2.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a bright yellow-orange, and smells primarily of sugar puffs, but with an edge of seaweed. An odd combination if ever there was one!
This is a bittersweet blend to taste. The initial sip is quite heavily toasty in flavour, presumably from the rice. It’s not quite burnt toast, but very nearly, and while it’s not acrid, there’s an edge of bitterness that’s heading that way. The mid-sip is sweeter as the apple flavour emerges. It’s a floury, mildly floral apple that puts me in mind of homemade baked apples in the winter, only without the accompanying dried fruit. The apple flavour fades slowly away, leaving the slightly dank-tasting green tea behind.
It feels a little unseasonal drinking this one in summer, as this is a blend perfectly suited to blustery autumn afternoons. The only thing I would have liked to add is a touch of spice – perhaps a little cinnamon or ginger, or maybe some dried fruit flavouring. That would have made this a true baked apple tea! As it stands, toasted apple is a completely apt name. The beautiful baked apple notes are perfectly suited to a toasty genmaicha base, and the pairing seems to bring out the best in both flavours! A delicious sweet-savoury treat.
While I was doing research and waiting for my books at the Urasenke School‘s library, I discovered that there was, that day, a tea fair across town at the Yoshida shrine near Kyoto University. Since the library closed at 3 anyway, I decided to hop over and take a look.
The tea fair was a decent size – about 20-30 booths from various sellers. What was perhaps the most surprising was that about half of them were selling Chinese teas of various sorts. Like these guys:
Or something like this:
The Chinese tea they sold and were pushing were mostly oolongs of various sort, with some greens and puerh thrown in. Many are Taiwan based or Taiwan inspired. But I wasn’t here for Chinese tea.
The Japanese tea sellers were mostly from the area – selling Uji produced tea. I tried some and bought a few bags, although given my glacial rate of drinking Japanese greens, I don’t know when I’ll ever get to them. More interestingly though, I ran into a stall with sellers from, of all places, Miyazaki prefecture. Miyazaki is next to Kagoshima, which is now a major producer of Japanese teas, but Miyazaki, relatively speaking, doesn’t do much tea. These guys claim to be organic and all that, and more importantly, they make black tea. The few I tried were quite good – one almost reminiscent of Darjeelings. Needless to say, I came home with quite a few bags of tea.
Having a tea fair at a shinto shrine has other advantages too. It’s nicely shaded but still feels like a park, it’s got a hill behind it and I actually hiked over the hill to get to the fair, and it’s reasonably accessible. There was also a sho performance while I was there.
There are also some things that I’m reminded of as someone who doesn’t drink a lot of Japanese tea – first, that Japanese greens are brewed strong, and the idea is to coat your mouth with the taste, at least when they make it for you. It’s a sharp contrast with Chinese greens, which emphasize that refreshing lightness. Second, these people shake their teapots violently to get every last drop out. No such thing as a gentle tip – they literally hold the kyusu with two hands and shake the thing like it’s going to drop you money to get every last bit of water out, usually stopping when the last shake produces a lot of tea leaves. Finally, Japanese greens, in the grand scheme of things, are pretty cheap, even decent grade shincha. This partly has to do with the yen dropping like a rock in the past few months, but also reflects how prices have really risen in China, which is the other main source of green teas. They are also so different that direct comparisons are basically pointless.
About a month ago, the World Tea Expo was held in Long Beach, California, for the second consecutive year. We were not there. Most readers would assume that the organisers would either (a) fly myself and Lady Devotea to the event, put us up in luxury and shower us with gifts or (b) simply move the whole thing to wherever we are living at the time, but for reasons no...
So last time I tried K-cups for you, and the results are pretty bad. Well, I’m just wrapping up a work trip in Japan, and while here, I had the pleasure of staying at a place that offered this in the room
For a country with a lot of tea, and where teabag is really commonplace, I’m not sure what compelled this particular hotel in Kyoto to give you these things instead. They are, basically, instant tea.
There were two flavours – hojicha (brown) and sencha (green). I tried the hojicha first, because why not? I filled the cup with hot water
Hojicha, as many of you know, is roasted green tea. It’s a restaurant favourite and many places give you that when you sit down for food. It’s not very sophisticated – it’s roasty, and often taste a bit burnt. That also means it’s hard to screw up. Well, this one… if I were just handed this without being told what it is, I wouldn’t know what it is, because it only has the faintest hint of hojicha taste. Coloured water is more like what it was, and a pretty tasteless one at all. If the k-cups were just bad tasting, this one was just bland, really bland.
The sencha, unfortunately, is no better – equally bland. The only thing resembling tea is its green colour. There’s very little taste, no texture, and low aroma. It’s really quite baffling why anyone would try these and think “oh, let’s use these instead of teabags.” The only reason – and not a very good one – is novelty. However, when novelty comes at the price of the end result, it’s hard to justify the novelty value. This thing is probably a lot more energy intensive to make, cost more, and deliver less.
Lesson? Teabags, for what it’s worth, are pretty great and hard to improve upon. Don’t fix it if it ain’t broken.
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A photo posted by Naomi Rosen (@joysteaspoon) on May 9, 2015 at 6:24am PDT
by Naomi Rosen
World Tea Expo is the highlight of my professional year. It’s an opportunity for me to bask in tea education, share tea tales with my pals, sip and sample my way through hundreds of teas, and discover new tea gadgets and trends. This year, the Expo was held May 6th-8th in Long Beach, CA. I was asked to be a panelist at the Tea Bloggers Roundtable, I was to sit in on the US League of Tea Growers meet-up, I had my schedule for 2 days of tea education, and my notes on growers and blenders that I needed to meet with. My plan was to drive out the afternoon of May 6th and I was ready to leave the bright lights of Las Vegas and make my trek to Long Beach and the tea glory that awaited me.The lively drive from Vegas to…anywhere.
If you’ve never made the drive from Las Vegas to, anywhere really, then let me give you an idea of what it looks like. See that picture to the right? It’s flat and uneventful. It’s the type of drive where you set the cruise control, turn up the iPod, and just coast.
I’m 90 minutes into my drive when the car in front of me hits a scrap piece of blown tire into my lane. I can’t swerve or I’ll hit the car next to me. So, I have no choice but to run over it. It made a lovely sound as it hit the underside of my car, and about 5 seconds after, my car started rattling and making a horrendous noise. A few miles down, I pulled off I-15 to check out the damage. I took the Halloran Summit exit. There is nothing, and I repeat NO THING, on this exit. There is simply an on-ramp back onto the freeway. I take a gander at the under carriage and nothing is dripping. However, my scratch plate is dangling precariously.
To a seasoned mechanic, or car enthusiast, this might seem like nothing. A quick fix. To me, this is equivalent to a cracked head gasket. I know equally as much about both – which means “nada”. I get on the phone with my husband, who thankfully, is a car whiz. I explain what happened, he asks some questions, and it’s determined that I just need to remove the scratch plate. You know, just remove it. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. I try using my keys, but they are just a smidge too wide. What I really need is a flathead screwdriver, or equivalent. I check my center console and glove box. I have a restaurants worth of napkins, nail polish, car registration and insurance cards, an old GPS, about $.86 in spare change, earbuds, a package of Big Red, and a map of San Diego. Chances of survival = not good. Then I recall that I have a pair of tweezers in my bathroom bag! YES! I grab those and go to work.
You know how sometimes things have to get worse before they get better? Picture me on all fours, balancing carefully on a floor mat I have removed from the car so that I don’t cut my knees on the desert rock and broken glass my car is parked on. I’m hunkered under the car with a pair of tweezers trying to remove these plastic clips holding that plate prisoner, and all of a sudden I hear, “Caw caw. Caw caw.” I glance up and there are 3 buzzards circling me and the car. I know, that they know, that I’m not a car fixing type. Did I mention it was dusk? And that my low battery indicator on my phone was starting to chirp at me? And that I am in the middle of NOWHERE. I was not going to make my husband explain to my children that they were now motherless because some plastic clips and buzzards got the best of her.
Those clips didn’t stand a chance between me and those tweezers. I got the plate removed, all of the pieces loaded into my car, and all with very little damage. My hands were filthy and I had a small scrape, but I did it, dammit! With nothing but a pair of freaking tweezers! I am woman, hear me roar!
I hopped back in the car and made haste to Baker, CA. I won’t even bother describing Baker. I pulled into a fast food place, took pictures of my hands and posted to social media (because I fixed my freaking car with a freaking pair of tweezers), washed my hands, grabbed a bite to eat, and hit the road. I was flying high! Nothing could keep me from the tea that was awaiting me in Long Beach.
About 15 minutes outside of Baker, I hit the biggest dust storm I’ve had to drive in, ever. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” I yelled as I shook my fist. Thankfully, the storm was only a few miles wide and I was back to cruising speed in no time. I made it to Long Beach well past my intended arrival time and walked into the House of Tealet where I was greeted with a cup of tea and hugs from my pals who were readying the troops for my desert rescue. So, thank you to my would be rescuers: Elyse, Michael, and Rie, Jason and Timmy, Phil, Rajiv, Nicole, Nicole, Natasha, Chris, Rachel, Katrina, Jo, and Geoff.
My two days at World Tea Expo were informative and tasty and I was sad to leave at the crack of dawn on Saturday to head back to Vegas. But I made sure those tweezers were in the cup holder, right next to George Michael, my new tea plant, and my Smores Frappe. Thank goodness that next years Expo is in Las Vegas!
A photo posted by Naomi Rosen (@joysteaspoon) on May 9, 2015 at 7:29am PDT
by tea alberti 1. How did you start your story with tea? - I’m not quite sure if I understand your question properly. Do you mean how I first started drinking tea? I actually talked about it in the Wall … Continue reading →
Placeres una nueva propuesta de TARAGÜI para disfrutar del momento del té sabores más acentuados aromas delicados + nuevo diseño. Se incorporan a la renovada línea de té combinaciones innovadoras de aromas y sabores deliciosos Para disfrutar del té en … Continue reading →
Zona Taragüi Y el mate llegó a los bares La nueva propuesta de Establecimiento Las Marías para disfrutar del mate en más de 100 bares. Llegás al bar y además de un café o un té podés disfrutar de otra … Continue reading →
Hostmaster Pattern / teacup by New Martinsville Glass Company
Vintage Youngsware China Fantasy Pattern
Noritake China April Cook N Serve Teacup ¿dónde consigo la taza? My Eclectic Heart
Details from Willow / colección Teapot diseño by Richard Brendon
Details from Willow / colección Teacup diseño by Richard Brendon
When you consider the perfect balance of taste, tea liquid color, and processing it’s undeniable: White Peony is one of the simplest, most elegant teas around. White Peony comes from the “Large White” varietal from Fujian.
This tea is picked with the downy bud and first leaf attached. Occasionally, you’ll see the bud with two leaves.
This tea is very delicate and is handled very gently during all stages of processing to preserve bud and leaf shape, and to avoid the bruising that would create undesired changes in taste.
White Peony has a high fragrance and top dry notes of muscat. This tea is sublime in the morning to wake up to, refreshing in the afternoon, or after any meal.
With sweet middle notes of tangerine and base notes of fresh hay, this tea has a clean taste and soothing qualities. White teas have the least oxidized leaves and buds and therefore offer the most anti-oxidants of all teas. This tea is from an unusually early picking and was picked before the Qing Ming festival. This is the first time I’ve seen Pre-Qing Ming White Peony on the US market. Because of this, it’s on the rare tea page, and is extremely reasonably priced. Check it out, along with Red Circle’s other rare teas here: http://redcircletea.com/redcircleteas/black_rare/redcircleteas_black_rare.html
Purple Orchid is one of the most famous of Dan Chong teas. To me it stood out this year as heads and shoulders above the dozens of Dan Chong Teas I tried, and that has a lot to do with its provinance and when it was picked. This Purple Orchid DC was picked before April 4th, before the Qing Ming festival honoring ancestors who have passed. The date is marked on every farmer’s almanac as the beginning of the picking season. But, in rare years, under special circumstances tea buds earlier, and if the weather is just right, and the picking and processing are just right, you wind up with an exceptional tea. This is such a tea. The dry leaves have notes of lichee and purple grapes. But this tea has great character.
Wet and warm the leaves, and a surprise is waiting. Notes of dry sweet almond are evoked, nutty and slightly spicy.
The aroma of the steeping tea fills the room.
The resulting cup is creamy, caramely and nutty, and reminds me of sitting in a restaurant and a waiter passes by with another guests desert of freshly caramelized flan.
This is a sumptuous tea, indulgent and relaxing. Check out all the Dan Chong Oolongs here: http://redcircletea.com/redcircleteas/oolong/redcircleteas_oolong.html
Long Jing – or Dragon’s Well. There really is a well at the top of Shi Feng peak in Long Jing Village outside of Hangzhou, China. Shi Feng (Lion’s Peak) is where the best Dragonwell comes from. The soil is sandier, it slows the uptake of minerals and results in a delicate taste and high fragrance indicative of the best teas this area has to offer.
So how do you judge good tea – how do you know what you’re looking at? Well, when you evaluate Long Jing tea, first look at the dry leaves: They should be uniform, straight (not splayed) and the best are slightly yellow.
Have a look at a first steeping of these leaves.
And the liquid is a perfect light yellow green color and the consistency is like silk.
The classic flavor profile of this tea is sweet chestnuts and a gentle green bean taste with high notes of sweet grass and springtime on a mountain (I’m not sure that’s a flavor, or aroma, but I’ve smelled it standing in a tea field, so I’m going to go with it). Think chlorophyll. Green, a life-force taste of freshness. The flavor lingers gently for at least an hour in your mouth, and this tea gives more steepings than a normal green tea, it will steep 6 – 7 times in a gong fu clay pot and 5 – 6 times in a Gaiwan.
This year’s Pre-Qing Ming harvest festival tea is rock solid. This is the kind quality of Long Jing tea you have come to expect from Red Circle Tea – absolutely the best on the US market. Period. If by some horrible coincidence, you haven’t had the Long Jing I buy, may I humbly suggest you make this investment in the following: your tea drawer will thank you, your palate will thank you, your friends will thank you- should you be magnanimous enough to share – which you should be: great tea is meant to be shared. But you will get the deepest thanks and return on investment from your tea education. There is only one way to learn tea, through drinking it. Sure, you can talk to educators to learn about tea, ceremonies, specifics like soil content and elevation, but really learning to take tea into your culinary repertoire requires that you drink it. And on occasion you must make an investment in that learning process. You must drink good tea at some point to really appreciate tea. If you drink tea, if you want to know tea, if you appreciate tea; you can understand this tea by tasting it. And I cordially invite you to do just that!
Pre-Qing Ming Dragonwell (Long Jing) is available for sale right now at: http://redcircletea.com/redcircleteas/green/redcircleteas_green.html
Joe Clare, owner of Edmonton’s Massage Therapy Supply Outlet, doesn’t approve of the new tea stir stick single packaging. Here he is telling all about it.