Global Tea Hut May 2014 - Golden Vajra

My first shipment from Global Tea Hut, an awesome Autumn red tea from Yunnan.

Socially Speaking: Adagio Tea's Twitter

A case study of a tea brand who I think does Twitter the right way.

Growing Tea in New Jersey?

My foray into growing Camellia Sinensis in New Jersey.

World Tea Expo 2014: Day 2

My first World Tea Expo! I had an amazing time in Long Beach.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Teavivre Organic Nonpareil She Qian Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: jade green, flat
Ingredients: green tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 185 degrees
Preparation Method: glass teapot
Liquor: pale greenish gold

This tea is a bit unusual in that it was harvested on March 23rd. This is very early in the Spring, prior to the Qing Ming harvest period. Production is extremely small at that time. The resulting tea was nothing short of amazing. Not only was it intensely aromatic but it had a very complex flavor profile. It was nutty, sweet and crisp with floral notes, a touch of melon and even a bit of creaminess. It lingered in my mouth for so long even after finishing the last sip. While it's a bit expensive compared to this other offerings, this one is worth every penny. This was a truly enjoyable tea and organic to boot. It's tempting to load up on this tea but green teas do not keep as long as other types. It would be a terrible waste if I couldn't drink it all while it is in its prime.

Organic Nonpareil She Qian Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea sample provided by Teavivre.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Handmade Tea Along the River

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: small, dark green with lots of lemongrass and huge pieces of fruit
Ingredients: Mao Feng green tea, cantaloupe pieces, lemongrass
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 175 degrees
Preparation Method: Teavana Perfect Tea Maker
Liquor: pale greenish yellow

I'm terribly behind on tea reviews which means that I have not been able to indulge in my +Handmade Tea shipments in a timely fashion. This particular blend was sent out in April. Oy vey! Cantaloupe is one of my favorite fruits to eat in this summer so it appealed to me before before tasting. The base was a pre-qingming Mao Feng green teas. I was a bit worried about what the balance would be like because this tea tends to lean very much on the mellow side. The cantaloupe pieces were gigantic. I had to did for some since they didn't quite fit onto my measuring teaspoon. Lemongrass isn't my favorite but Caleb is a flavor combination master so I trusted that he would not lead me astray. The tea was mildly vegetal with a bit of a lemon pepper kick. As it cooled, a sweet melony aftertaste became more and more apparent. It was delicious! My ever skeptical boyfriend even enjoyed it. I can't wait to try it as an iced tea. I have a feel that will help it to really come into its own.

You can find out more about this tea subscription service here.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Global Tea Hut June 2014 - Mi Xiang Oolong and Red Tea

Global Tea Hut June 2014 - Mi Xiang Oolong and Red Tea
I was really excited to dig into the June shipment from +Global Tea Hut because they sent an oolong and a red tea, both made from Mi Xiang leaves. Before I even opened my envelope I received an email from them letting me know that there may be an issue with the packaging. Sure enough when I opened my tin the two teas were hopelessly mixed together. When I let them know about it they were very quick to apologize and send a replacement, even including a bonus of purple red tea.

The difference in the dry leaves was really obvious here. The oolong had the characteristic deep green leaves in a tight ball shape of a Taiwanese oolong. The red tea was dark and in even tighter balls than the oolong.

Global Tea Hut June 2014 - Mi Xiang Oolong and Red Tea

Global Tea Hut June 2014 - Mi Xiang Oolong and Red TeaGlobal Tea Hut June 2014 - Mi Xiang Oolong and Red Tea

Brewing two teas at once is a lot of work (and dishes)! I'm so glad that I reserve these shipments as my day off tea. I got so involved in what I was doing that I completely forgot about everything else that is going on in my life. It's important to take a moment to really enjoy tea from time to time.

There was definitely a stark contrast in the colors of the brewed tea. The oolong was a pale gold while the red tea was more of a reddish dark amber.

Global Tea Hut June 2014 - Mi Xiang Oolong and Red TeaGlobal Tea Hut June 2014 - Mi Xiang Oolong and Red Tea

The oolong opened up quite a bit more than the red tea which makes sense since it is not as heavily oxidized.

Both teas were very tasty, different sides of the same coin if you will. The oolong was aromatic and lingering while the red tea was earthy and sweet. Both shared a honey-like quality that I really enjoyed. It was interesting to compare them with each other because another thing that they had in common was texture. We don't usually think of tea having a texture but it does. These both had the same silky smooth, somewhat thick mouth-feel.

I know I've raved about them here before but I really can't recommend Global Tea Hut enough. The teas are carefully curated and delicious. Each shipment brings new surprises and tea knowledge. It is donation based so it's really up to you how much you want to give to support their work. I'm looking forward to one day being able to visit their center in Taiwan.

Mi Xiang Oolong and Red Tea purchased through a paid Global Tea Hut subscription.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

White2Tea 2013 Jingmai - Old Arbor vs Plantation

I posted some questions about how to the age of puerh tea from the leaves on TeaChat and Paul from +White2Tea was quick to respond with information and an generous offer of samples to illustrate the differences. I've got a whole batch of goodies to write about from him but in this case I did a comparative tasting of 2013 Jingmai raw puerh. One is an old arbor tea (many vendors will call this "ancient") and one is from a plantation.

White2Tea 2013 Jingmai Old ArborWhite2Tea 2013 Jingmai Plantation

In all of the photos the old arbor version will be on the left and the plantation on the right. Right off the bat, there was a definite difference in the dry leaves. The old arbor leaves had a nice shine to them while the plantation leaves looked quite dull in comparison.

White2Tea 2013 Jingmai - Old Arbor vs PlantationWhite2Tea 2013 Jingmai - Old Arbor vs Plantation

The differences in taste were very subtle at first. The plantation tea was just a shade paler and as the later infusions came, it seemed to have a lot less impact that the old arbor. I was almost reminded of the difference between true cliff and half cliff for Wuyi Mountain oolongs. The plantation tea is close but not quite there. Puerh is one of the most misunderstood types of tea and I find myself diving into it more and more lately. Hopefully as the academic interest in this category increases, we will see more agreement about what is fact and what is fiction.

Some of you might remember my tea pet who unfortunately decided that he wanted to stay in Long Beach after the World Tea Expo. I ordered a close approximation on Amazon and it finally arrived. The original was the same design but a bit nicer. This guy is chubbier and less refined but still cute. Welcome to the world of tea Ribbit II.

Jinmai Old Arbor and Plantation samples provided by White2Tea.