Tea For Me Please

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Want to learn more about tea? Come follow my journey with the leaf. Fun and informative posts, tea reviews and more.Nicole Martinhttps://plus.google.com/103097147251455801975noreply@blogger.comBlogger1700125
Updated: 13 min 19 sec ago

Friday Roundup: September 17th - September 23rd

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 16:00
Botanical Tea Fragrances | Ravenscourt Apothecary

I have a thing for tea infused beauty products. When I see them for sale at Sephora or other stores, I just have to have them. This week's post from Chelsea at Taste the Tea caught my attention because tea perfumes are still a bit hard to come by.

Why This Tea Will Sell Out First: 2017 White2Tea (Yiwu) "Pussy"

I'm so glad that we have MattCha's Blog back. A pragmatic voice is needed among the fervent puerh fanatics. He placed his first order with popular vendor White2Tea and his findings were really quite interesting.

The Spirit of Tea Tour by Spirit Tea & Marco

I've said it before and I'll say it again, the west coast gets the best tea festivals. The latest post on World of Tea is a must read if you live anywhere near Los Angeles, Denver, Portland, or Seattle. There will be matcha latte throwdowns and workshops on tea brewing. I so wish I could be there!

In Pursuit of Tea Tasting Session, Countryside Edition

Georgia at Notes on Tea previously posted about a fabulous tasting that she did with the folks from In Pursuit of Tea. In this new installment, she shares the latest tasting with the backdrop of the New England Countryside. Sounds like heaven to me!

Matcha Paloma Recipe

Alexis at Teaspoons & Petals concocted a delicious matcha mocktail twist on the traditional Paloma recipe. She worked with American Tea Room to develop this recipe and you can try it yourself at their cafes in California.

Arbor Teas Organic Silver Needle White Tea

Thu, 09/21/2017 - 04:54

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: whole buds, covered in downy hair
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 180 degrees
Preparation Method: glass gaiwan
Liquor: pale gold

Time flies really flies when you're having fun but it's still hard to believe that it has been six years since I have written about anything from my friends at Arbor Teas. This blog and my own journey with tea have changed so much in that time. The last batch of samples included teas like masala chai and earl gray. There's nothing wrong with flavored teas but my tastes have changed quite a bit since then. The focus of the blog has shifted to the unflavored and unblended end of the spectrum. I'm looking forward to sharing some of Arbor Teas' current offerings with you all here.

The leaves of this tea were wonderfully fuzzy and soft. There's something about silver needle that always makes me wish I could shrink down and jump into it. There were a large number of hairs in the brewed tea even after filtering. Tiny hairs on your tea might sound off-putting but trust me, they are a very good thing. The technical term for these appendages is trichomes and they protect the delicate buds from damage. Trichomes usually fall of tea leaves during processing but white teas are able to retain them because they are treated much more delicately.

This tea was sourced from the Guoyang Shanhugang Tea Project in Fujian. Silver needle can be very delicate so it's important to take your time and focus when tasting them. Sipping lukewarm water or nibbling on a plain, salty cracker can help wake your taste buds up a bit as well. This one was no different. A honey-like aroma gave way to meadowy floral notes. There was a pleasant lingering sweetness in the aftertaste. There was no bitterness or astringency, even when the brewing parameters are pushed a bit. While it was very nice using the vendor's brewing recommendation, gongfu was definitely the way to go for me.

One really cool thing about Arbor Teas (besides their wonderful tea) is that their labels and packaging are made out of backyard compostable material. Not only that but their entire catalog is certified organic (with a good portion being Fair Trade to boot!). I love their commitment to sustainability and hope that more companies follow their example in the future.

Organic Silver Needle White Tea sample provided for review by Arbor Teas.

Wherever I see a pile of Silver Needle, I just wish that I could shrink down and jump into it. So fluffy!A post shared by Nicole - Tea for Me Please (@teaformeplease) on Sep 3, 2017 at 10:01am PDT

5 Things Tea Companies Need to Stop Doing on Instagram

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 03:23

Instagram is probably the social media platform that I use the most. There's an awesome sense of community there and I love being able to connect with other tea fanatics around the world. It's also a great way to discover new tea companies. That being said, there are some things that tea companies do on Instagram that drive me crazy. I'm writing about it here in the hopes that I can get through to at least a few of the perpetrators.

Using Stock Photography
I see a lot of companies using nothing but the same terrible stock photos that everyone else uses, most often from freeimages.com. This comes across as very commercial and impersonal. It also tells us nothing about what they do or what their products actually are. I'm much less likely to follow back or trust a company that posts this way. Peppering in the occasional "on brand" stock photo is fine but they shouldn't make up the entire feed.
Stealing Pictures
There is nothing worse than having a company steal your picture without permission. This is not ok do, even if it is a shot their product. Permission must be obtained from the person who took the picture and proper credit needs to be given whenever it is used. I'm not the best photographer in the world but a lot of thought and effort does go into everything that I post. On multiple occasions, I have had to ask for pictures to be removed because they were used without my knowledge. If there's a person whose pictures you really enjoy, consider hiring them! 
Automatic Direct Messages
I've noticed a lot of companies using automated "bots" to automatically direct message their followers. It's impossible for me to express just how off-putting this is. It didn't work on Twitter and it doesn't work here. I'm always happy to connect but I want an authentic conversation with a real human. A better idea would be to reply to my stories, forward me something that you think I might find interesting, or even just say hello.
Erroneous Tagging
This! I find my account constantly being tagged in pictures that have nothing to do with me by companies that I've never heard of. It's basically a thinly veiled ploy to gain followers. At first, I would message them privately and let them know that this wasn't ok to do. Eventually, I just started removing the tags and blocking them to prevent it from happening again. One company actually sent me a whiny email afterward claiming that they were "just trying to connect". No, they were just trying to use my larger following to grow their own account.
Playing the Unfollow Game
Speaking of connecting authentically, I'm sick and tired of doing the unfollow dance! While I'm not a fan of "follow for follow", I generally try to return the favor when an account is tea related and appears non-spammy. It's very frustrating to then discover soon after that they have unfollowed me. Now, this isn't an ego thing. What annoys me is that the same account will then do this whole routine over and over again. Why even bother?!?

Is there something that you would add to this list? Let me know about it in the comments!

Friday Roundup: September 10th - September 16th

Sat, 09/16/2017 - 04:39
Understanding Gyokuro

I was really fascinated by this post from Florent of Japanese Tea Sommelier because it calls attention to a common misconception I see. Gyokuro is often favored by tea lovers because it is believed to be the "highest grade". Of course, nothing in tea is so cut and dry but he does a really great job of clearing it up.

Momo Tea Matcha Green Tea Mug Cake

I have a major sweet tooth. As much as I love baking, I avoid making big batches so that I don't wind up munching everything myself. This recipe from Katherine at Tea Journey sounds like the perfect solution!

Review: everydayteas 2016 Nan Nuo Shan

I am perpetually jealous of the weekly office tea club that Sara at Tea Happiness hosts. In this post, she shares their experience with an excellent daily drinker along with an epic shot of the tea being poured with NYC as a backdrop.

My tasting notes: Oriental Beauty oolong

Anna at The Tea Squirrel also wrote a beautifully photographed post, this time about one of my favorite Taiwanese oolongs. I'll definitely have to check out the one that she tasted from American Tea Room.

Kiss Me Organics Ceremonial Matcha

Ricardo at My Japanese Green Tea reviewed a matcha that I've often seen advertised online. Like him, I was a bit skeptical of the health claims they use in their marketing but it's nice to know that the tea in the tin delivers.

Tillerman Tea Bai Hao (Oriental Beauty) Summer 2017

Thu, 09/14/2017 - 04:19

Country of Origin: Taiwan
Leaf Appearance: dark, twisted with scattered white tips
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 195 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: dark amber

It's been a little over a year since I've written about an oriental beauty here on the blog. Funnily enough, I consider it one of my favorite oolongs but only a few have ever been sent to me for review. I think a large part of that has to do with the fact that there is actually very little authentic O.B. produced every year.

The name Bai Hao refers to the white bud tips scattered throughout the darker leaves. Another crucial part of this tea's processing involves the leaves being bitten by insects before harvesting. I know that might sound gross but trust me, when it comes to tea bug spit can make things exponentially more delicious! Their nibbles start the oxidation process before the leaves are even plucked.

The dry leaf of this tea was quite beautiful to look at. They were wiry and twisted with varied shades of brown with touches of red and even an almost purple hue. I can't help but think of autumn leaves when I look at them (even though it was harvested in Summer). Oriental Beauty is sometimes called "five color oolong" for that reason.

After brewing, I was immediately entranced by the honey-like aroma and beautiful dark amber color of the liquor. That was echoed in the taste along with floral notes and hints of ripe peach. Later infusions developed a woody taste that took the forefront, though the floral and fruity flavors were definitely still present. There was a touch of astringency but no more than would be characteristic of this type of tea.

This oriental beauty performed equally well when brewed with a gaiwan and in a more western style. Multiple infusions are a must in both cases. This is the first tea I've reviewed from Tillerman Tea but regular readers might recognize their founder David from the comment section of the blog. He's really great about engaging with the online community, something I wish more tea company owners would do!

Bai Hao (Oriental Beauty) Summer 2017 Sample provided for review by Tillerman Tea.

3 Easy Ways to Keep Your Teaware Clean

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 16:00

Tea stains are a fact of life when you drink as much as I do. While they aren't bad for us per se, stains on teaware definitely aren't attractive to look at. A good old sponge and dish detergent work fine for utilitarian mugs and stainless steel filters but I really don't like using chemicals at all when it comes to gongfu gear. Over the years I've come up with a few tricks to keep my stuff in tip top shape.

Microfibre Cloth
The ubiquitous red cloth (though they can be any color) that comes with many tea sets is actually a fantastic tool for keeping your teaware looking its best. The rim of gaiwans can get a bit grimy even after a good rinsing. Just give them a rub with the cloth and some gentle but firm elbow grease. Surface dirt will be easily wiped away. This is also particularly useful for lipstick stains as well. I also recommend giving your yixing teapots an occasional massage with these to bring out the shine and remove debris from the outside.

Magic Erasers
Set in tea stains that have built up over the course of years are particularly hard to remove. I was on the verge of ordering a new tea tray because mine was looking quite gross after seven years of nearly daily use. As a last ditch effort to save it from the trash I decided to give it a scrub with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (aka melamine sponge). Much to my surprise the practically baked on stains came off fairly easily. As you can see from the bottom picture, my tray looks almost brand new. Magic Erasers are also very good for cleaning up "crackle" glaze teaware like ruyao. They remove surface dirt and make white cups sparkling again while still leaving tea stains in the cracks, where they are meant to be. Despite the internet rumors, there is no formaldehyde in Magic Erasers and they are perfectly safe to use. I do recommend rinsing your teaware well after just to be on the safe side.

Denture Tablets
It can be really difficult to clean the insides of thermoses, bottles, and tumblers, especially those with narrow necks. If they start getting a bit funky just fill them with hot water and drop in a couple of denture cleaning tablets. It might sound crazy but the fizzy foaming action gets into nooks and crannies that are impossible to reach with a brush or sponge. The inside will be minty fresh to boot! Just make sure to rinse very well afterward to avoid affecting the taste of your tea.

Note: It's important to keep in mind that some teaware should never come into contact with anything other than water. Do not use any chemicals or soap on yixing, jianshui, or any other non-glazed clay.

Do you have a secret for keeping your teaware clean? Let me know about it in the comments!