Tea For Me Please

Kindle Books for Tea Lovers

A list of books on tea that you can read for free!

Teas To Celebrate Fall With

Some of my favorite fall teas that go outside of the ususal pumpkin spice flavors

Podcast Episode 16: Bowl Brewing and Grandpa Style

How to brew tea with nothing but what you already have in your kitchen cabinet

Where to Get Your Matcha Fix in NYC

Some of the best places in the Big Apple to get the green stuff

Monday, November 30, 2015

How To Brew Loose Leaf Tea

Making tea without the help of tea bags can seem daunting at first but it's actually super easy. There's a lot of different accouterments out there but the truth is that you don't really need much equipment at all. At its most basic level, the requirements for making tea are:

- Brewing vessel
- Hot water
- Something to hold the leaves

That's it! The main reason that you'll need a way to remove the leaves is to prevent bitterness. Some people like their tea on the strong so feel to use your tastes as your guide. Brewing vessels can be anything from a utilitarian mug to a fancy teapot and everything in between. As your own interest in tea progresses, so will your preferred brewing methods. When I first got into tea, infuser baskets and paper filters were my mainstays but more often than not I now brew with a gaiwan. The advice that I always give is to start simple and build from there.

Tea bags are often made with lower quality leaves so one of the major differences is that loose leaf can often be used to make more than one infusion. The upfront cost is more but that means your per serving cost could actually be lower.

Paper Filters
Paper filters basically allow you to make your own tea bags. I still use these quite a bit when I'm traveling. Although perfectly functional, there are a few drawbacks. Larger leaved and rolled teas will not have room to expand which could negatively affect the flavor. They can also create waste because not all filters are biodegradable. 

Tea Balls
Tea balls offer a similar function to paper filters but in a reusable form. They are available in a wide range of sizes but giving your leaves enough room can also be an issue here. Loosely woven mesh is less likely to stop very small leaf particles like rooibos.

Novelty Infusers
Novelty infusers can make tea time a lot of fun but again, they do tend to constrict the leaves. These are a great conversation piece for the office! Co-workers at my old job always asked what I drinking when I used that cute little duck.

Infuser Baskets
Basket style infusers are definitely my go to when it comes to simple brewing. The wide open design leaves plenty of room for your leaves to stretch their legs. They often come with lids which can serve as drip catchers in between infusions. 
A lot of teapots come with infuser baskets. Some people prefer to let the leaves float free in the teapot. Small strainers are placed over teacups when pouring to stop leaves from getting through. The flavor will continue to get stronger so you'll want to drink it up fairly quickly.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Friday Round Up: November 22nd - November 28th

Podcast 026: Teforia
+Ricardo Caicedo interviewed Allen Han, founder of +Teforia. I was luck enough to see the machine in person and it is awesome.

Jugetsudo Kabukiza
I haven't yet been able to travel to places like Japan so I love living vicariously through others. Heather of Hanamichi shared this week about her experience at a gorgeous tea house in Tokyo.

What-Cha's Malawi Satemwa Antlers White Tea
+Adam M. of Drunk on Tea reviewed one of my absolute favorite white teas. Those little twigs are full of surprises!

The 2015 Tea Moment Holiday Gift Guide
When +Jen Piccotti recommends something, you can bet that any tea lover is guaranteed to love it. This year's gift guide is full of things that I love along with several items that are on my wish list.

Chai Tea Pancakes
Fellow breakfast addict Jennifer, of Inspired by Tea, posted a recipe this week that is right up my alley. I never would have thought of putting cottage cheese in my pancakes before.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Wild Tea Qi Black Needle Pagoda Tea

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: dark with gold tips
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: deep reddish brown

I have to admit to being a bit obsessed with this tea long before actually having the opportunity to drink it. That pagoda shape is just too cool! Being a Yunnan black tea, I knew that it would be right up my alley. Each individual pagoda was about 1.5g so I used two in my gaiwan. The taste was complex yet surprisingly light at the same time. Up front there were notes of chocolate that transitioned into a fruity sweetness that brought to mind fresh coconut. The back end had the malty, earthy yam-like quality that I've come to love in Yunnan black teas. After a few infusions the leaves began opening up and they began resembling a more typical flowering tea. The individual leaves were tied together at the base with plain white thread. +Amanda Wilson said that she thought they resembled sea creatures and I think that I have to agree. A funny comment thread occurred when I shared a picture on my Facebook page because +Geoffrey Norman+Chris Giddings and +Rachana Rachel Carter thought that the pagoda shape resembled a mysterious creature from Star Trek. That conversation was a bit over my head but entertaining to read nonetheless.

Black Needle Pagoda Tea sample provided by Wild Tea Qi.

A photo posted by Nicole Martin (@teaformeplease) on

Monday, November 23, 2015

Podcast Episode 17: Interview with Rosa Li of Rosali Tea

After doing a few how to videos, I thought that it was time to return to doing interviews on my podcast. On this month's episode Rosa Li, founder of +Rosali Tea, a new tea subscription service. She shared how she first became interested in tea and her experience launching her company through Kickstarter. I'll be writing about some her teas in the near future.

As always, let me know if there is anything related to tea that you'd like to see on a podcast episode! I'll try my best to make it happen. :)

Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday Round Up: November 15th - November 21st

Day 2 Morning - Taiwan 2015
+Jo J's post this week detailed more of her experience visiting Taiwan. The pictures alone are incredible. Talk about being a tea rock star!

A guide to choosing a puerh tea that you'll love
I don't often include blog posts from tea companies in the round up but this was a great one from +Crimson Lotus Tea. I love the approach of finding a puerh based on what you already like!

The Making of Misty "Peat" Puerh, Part 1
The Making of Misty "Peat" Puerh, Part 2
+Geoffrey Norman experimented with making a bourbon scented puerh and I was lucky enough to get to try some. The usual hilarity ensued. Make sure that you read both posts so that you get the whole process.

David's Tea 24 Days of Tea Un-Boxing
It's the time of year that many tea people have been waiting for, the release of David's Tea's infamous advent calendar. These sell out pretty quickly but luckily +Rachana Rachel Carter got her hands on one and did an unboxing video for us all to enjoy.

A Moment Among the Elephants
+Jen Piccotti has wonderful way of relating the tea that she writes about to personal moments, bringing them both alive for readers. This post reminded me of an elephant ride from my own childhood.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

White2Tea 2002 CNNP (Zhong Cha) 7572 Green Label Tiepai

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: dark, tightly compressed
Ingredients: puerh tea
Steep time: 15 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: very dark reddish brown

There are two words that strike fear into my heart when I'm drinking puerh. Wet. Storage. I just can't bring myself to enjoy the affect that it has on tea. That being said, I owed it both to myself and to the gent behind White2Tea to power through this one. Many moons ago he was kind enough to send a package full of tea education after I asked a total newb question on a forum. This tea was the very last of those samples. The dry leaf was fairly tightly compressed. I did two quick rinses, just to be on the safe side, and was surprised to see how dark the tea was already. The humidity was definitely apparent for the first four or so infusions. I did not find that aspect pleasant at all. That being said, I trudged through the muck and came out with a really pleasant tea. Chocolaty and creamy notes came out of nowhere. I drank this tea for two days straight so the leaves had real staying power too. Maybe wet storage isn't so bad after all? We'll have to see. At the price, I'd venture to say that this tea is a real steal because I've definitely seen similar teas go for a lot more.

2002 CNNP (Zhong Cha) 7572 Green Label Tiepai sample provided by White2Tea.

Monday, November 16, 2015

What's the Deal with Re-steeping Your Tea?

The question I see asked most often by newbies on the forums that I frequent has to do with re-steeping tea. Somehow I made it six years without actually answering it here so I thought that it was about time. First things first, what is meant by the word re-steeping? It simply means getting more than one cup out of the same batch of leaves. For a lot of us in the western hemisphere that is an entirely new concept.

How does it work?
At its most basic re-steeping simply requires setting the strained leaves aside until you are ready to brew a second cup. All of the water should be removed from them in order to avoid bitterness. Every tea is a bit different but in a lot of cases you might increase the brewing time on the next round in order to extract enough flavor. If you're brewing in a western fashion (infuser basket or larger teapot), most unflavored teas can yield at least two to three infusions. Eastern style brewing (a la gongfu with gaiwans or yixing teapots) is a whole other story. I've had puerh and oolong that gave well over 10 infusions. The key difference is that a higher volume of leaves are used with a smaller volume of water, extending the life of the leaves.

How long can I let the leaves sit? Can they be brewed the next day?
It's really a matter of personal opinion but I try to use the leaves within a few hours. When I do leave them sitting, I'll usually put the cover on the gaiwan to make sure that they don't dry out. Once the leaves have dried out there really isn't a way to revive them.

There have been a few times where I had just started a session with a tea that I knew had a lot of infusions in it. Isn't it the worst when life interupts good tea? In that case I placed the closed gaiwan in the refrigerator, making sure that there was no sticky food inside that would ruin my tea. When I was able to return to the tea I made sure to do a few quick rinses to get the flavor back where it should be.

I would not be inclined to use leaves that have been sitting for longer 24 hours. Since they are moist used tea leaves make an excellent breeding ground for mold and bacteria. As heartbreaking as it is to throw out seemingly good tea leaves, I just don't think it is worth the risk. If I don't think that I'll be able to get back to drinking within that time frame, I'll use the leaves to make a batch of cold brewed iced tea instead. Just throw them into a mason jar full of cold water and place it in the fridge. I've found that oolongs work really well for this.

Will it work for flavored teas or tea bags? 
Unfortunately flavored teas and tea bags are usually a one shot deal. Almost all of the flavor goes into the first cup so there will be very little left for a second one. The one exception to that might be full leaf pyramid style tea bags. As a general rule the smaller the leaf particles are, the less likely it is that you'll be able to re-steep it.