Tea For Me Please

What is Terroir?

The factors that make up where your cup of tea comes from

Teacrafting with Boston Teawrights

A look at how I made my own tea

Classic Chinese Black No.3

This unusual tea is made from the same cultivars that are used to produce Long Jing

A New Way of Displaying Teacups

A nifty tool that made it easier to display my teacups

Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday Round Up: November 16th to November 22nd

Quality of Matcha
+Oca Ocani shared some tips on choosing a quality matcha. The pictures showing different grades are especially helpful.

How To: Store Loose Leaf Tea
I recently discovered an excellent blog called Steep Inclined. Holly shared a helpful post on how to properly store tea, complete with a video.

A Hong Kong love story: Chinese Tea meets European Chocolate
Pairing tea and chocolate has been very popular in recent years. It was very interesting to hear about the traditional Chinese teas that Charles will be tasting.

2014 Holiday Gift Guide for Tea Nerds
+Tony Gebely of World of Tea shared his list of nerdy tea gifts on Tumblr. The Vietnam tea box is sitting right next to me so I can vouch for its awesomeness.

A Japanese tea ceremony (Omotesenke school)
Stephane of the Tea Masters blog posted some beautiful pictures of a Japanese tea ceremony he experienced in an apartment in New York City.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tea Journeyman Amba Estate Hand-Rolled GF OP1 Ceylon Black Tea

Country of Origin: Sri Lanka
Leaf Appearance: long and wiry, dark brown
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 195 degrees
Preparation Method: Teavana Perfect Steeper
Liquor: reddish amber

Amba Estate has become one of my favorite sources for Ceylon tea. You might remember that I previously reviewed and enjoyed their OP1 with Tea Flowers from Tealet. The leaves were absolutely gorgeous after brewing. I have never seen a Ceylon tea that was this whole or with this many buds. All of the extra work of hand rolling definitely payed off. The taste was exactly what I was hoping for. It was clean and brisk with complex notes of honey, fruit and chocolate. This is a tea to inhale deeply and take your time with. I did three consecutive infusions and the flavor held up very well throughout each of them. As always, I really appreciate the depth of the information provided by +Tea Journeyman Shop. +Kevin Craig's tasting notes come from a tea blogger's perspective so it's almost like he reads my mind. In case you haven't already, make sure that you check out the blog that inspired the business, Tea Journeyman.

Amba Estate Hand-Rolled GF OP1 Ceylon Black Tea sample provided by Tea Journeyman.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Happy 4th Anniversary Harney & Sons SoHo!

On Monday I was very excited to stop by +Harney and Sons Fine Teas for their 4th anniversary party. It was quite a packed house when I first arrived. It was wonderful to see many people who love tea in one room. At first, it was a bit hard to navigate the delicious spread of hors d'oeuvres, tea and cocktails. I searched the crowd for a familiar face and above everyone else I spotted my very tall friend +Mario Nicholas. We grabbed some quiche and tea cocktails while catching up.

The star of the evening was their brand new blend, Celebration Tea. It's a very well balanced black tea base flavored with apricots and spice. It's also very special because it is one of the last teas that John Harney had a hand in crafting. I didn't pick up a tin at the party but I'll be stopping back in to get some soon. I do wish it was available in loose tea rather than sachets but I think I may be using them as a fun add on to Christmas presents this year.

Another familiar face was +Verna L. Hamilton. I couldn't believe that these two had never met before. It seems that we all follow the same people on Twitter. +Chris Halpert made a brief appearance too. I'll be seeing him soon when the NYC Tea Social Meetup visits MatchaBar. Just when I thought that it was time to go home, +Jo J and her lovely daughter joined us. I love getting to see tea friends! As the event wound down we got some group pictures and gave our thanks to the Harney family. They were consummate hosts as always.

Photo: VL Hamilton

Photo: Harney & Son's SoHo

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tea Places: T Shop

It seems that SoHo has become tea central in New York City. This neighborhood is home to some of my favorite haunts such as Harney & Son's and Palais de Thes. When a friend told me about T Shop, a new spot that just opened on Elizabeth Street, I just had to check them out. It was a bit hard to find, but I recognized the psychic sign (a separate business) on the door from their Instagram.

At the end of a long hallway, I walked through the glass door and was immediately transported. The space was incredibly quiet and serene. One of the owners, Theresa, and another patron were the only two there. I was immediately invited to partake in some Iron Arhat before making my own selection. Cliff teas aren't always my thing but this one was lovely. It had a very pleasant lingering aftertaste.

Their selection is limited for the time being but I immediately chose a compressed Moonlight White for my tasting. What can I say, I'm a sucker for that stuff. The price of $10 was very reasonable considering that it was expertly prepared the tea using a gaiwan. It was sweet like sugar cane with a really nice floral note. Theresa regaled us with stories of her tea sourcing travels in Taiwan.

When that tea was finished, I wasn't quite ready to leave my new-found sanctuary just yet. I ordered their Four Seasons Oolong next. While this is generally considered an "every day" tea, it was very enjoyable. We had an insightful discussion on the importance of growing region when it comes to high mountain oolongs. Then we focused on Shui Ping teapots and closely compared three different pots that Theresa had on hand.

If my budget had been unlimited, I would have walked out with most of the teaware on the shelves. Everything is hand selected and it shows. I did pick up a bamboo tea pick as this was yet another tea tool that was missing from my arsenal. I'll definitely be back for a few other pieces that I admired, including an unusual cup that appears to change shape while you drink.

Overall it was a really great experience. The pictures in the post were hastily taken with a dying cell phone battery. They really don't do this place justice so I'll replace them with better pictures on my next visit. I'm planning to go back with a friend in the future for table service, where you can brew the tea for yourself. This is exactly the kind of tea place that New York needed. They are engaging without being intimidating or snobbish. The prices are accessible enough for beginners but the teas are attractive for old pros. I wish Theresa and Yuki the best of luck on their venture. They are sure to do great things.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Color of Japan, Color Harvest

Last week I had the pleasure of attending a ceramics exhibition by Tomomi Kamoshita at Globus Washitsu. Even more lucky was that I was able to enjoy it with tea friends +The Snooty Tea Person+Jo J and +Verna L. Hamilton. I made the tragic mistake of forgetting my camera at home so please excuse the terrible pictures. The do not do Tomomi's work any justice. For those of you not familiar with it Globus Washitsu is a truly amazing space, a New York City penthouse converted into a Japanese tea house. I had not been there before this event but I have been avidly following their pictures and events on Facebook.

When we first walked in, we were greeted warmly and escorted into an entry way where everyone removed their shoes. Understandably, the dirt of the city has no place on their tatami mats. Artificial grass and stepping stones replicated the garden entryway of a traditional tea house. There was even a basin for cleansing yourself. Funnily enough, one of the first things were shown was the bathroom.They have one of those fancy Japanese toilets with a million buttons. In hind sight, I should have taken a picture to show you all. Two items in tea house that really caught my eye was this beautiful caligraphy and a two toned chasen.

We arrived just in time as the reception was just starting. Stephen Globus and Souheki Mori of Tea Whisk welcomed everyone and introduced Tomomi. Souheki translated as Tomomi shared her story and thanked us all for coming to see her exhibition. We were then treated to the music of Jun Ando. He composed a piece just for this event.

Photo: A Gift of Tea

Tomomi makes several different kinds of ceramics but her kintsugi work definitely caught my eye the most. Kintsugi is a method for making repairs that uses lacquer mixed with gold. In the end, pieces often wind up looking even more beautiful than they did before the break. The level of artistry shown here was truly amazing. They were definitely out of my price range for the moment but I would love to add something like these to my collection some day. As we were leaving Tomomi gifted us with a small ceramic tile, signed and everything. While seemingly simple I think it will make a beautiful addition to any cha xi (tea setting).

Thank you to everyone who made the evening possible. It's wonderful to see traditional Japanese arts being nurtured in the heart of New York City.

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