Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Teajo Rooibos Chai

I was excited to try this selection because I thought rooibos and chai was a unique combination. Teajo lists the ingredients as including African rooibos with cinnamon, ginger and other natural spices. I brewed this tea using my Zarafina tea maker set on strong, herbal. The liquor was a deep red and the spicy scent was very apparent, both in the tea and the dry leaves.

I have to say that this is the first selection from Teajo that I have thoroughly enjoyed. It was a tasty and spicy with just a hint of the woodsy flavor of rooibos. It was definitely chai but in an understated way that wasn’t overwhelming to the palate. I only wish I had enough to make this tea more than once. It would have gone very well with some steamed milk. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Japanese Garden in Autumn

I was bored this weekend so I dragged by boyfriend to the Japanese Garden at Georgian Court University. I've been meaning to go for some time and I figured we should make a run for it before winter is upon us. I was no dissapointed. The Japanese maple leaves covered everything in a blanket of bright red. They even had a restored traditional tea house in the garden. The inside shot was as good as I could get through the glass but you can get the general idea of the structure. I also hit up the newly relocated Whole Foods and found a neat little travel tea press for $10. I also picked up some Rishi Plum Oolong since I couldn't resist trying it out right away. Reviews of both will definately follow :)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

TeaGschwendner Rooibos Cream Caramel

TeaGschwendner’s lists the ingredients as including rooibush tea, caramel bits, and natural flavor. The dry leaves had the woodsy rooibos smell with just a hint of creamy sweetness. I brewed this tea using my Zarafina tea maker, set on strong herbal. The liquor had a deep red color that was typical of most rooibos teas I have had.

This tea was rich and decadent with a pleasant aftertaste. The flavoring was not overpowering to the rooibos base but was just enough to complement it. I would be curious to know what they used to get the creamy taste because it so perfectly on the money. I even resteeped this tea a second time because I enjoyed it so much. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Teajo Tropical Mango

Teajo does not list the ingredients on their website but I could definitely see pieces of mango among the black tea as well as some kind of flower petals. The leaves smelled promisingly sweet and fruity. I brewed this tea using my Zarafina tea maker. The liquor was a little on the light side for a black tea but had the same aroma as the leaves.

I am sorry to say that there was nothing tropical about this tea. It was weak even as a straight black tea. I’m a strong believer that in order to make a good blended tea you have to start with a quality base. This tea lacked any real flavor but left a bitter aftertaste. They claim that this is one of their most popular black teas but it just didn’t do anything for me. I would not recommend this tea.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Tea Guys Papaya Ginger

Tea Guys lists the ingredients as including white tea, organic green tea, organic lemon myrtle, ginger, citrus peel, pineapple, anise, papaya, pomegranate, natural flavors, marigold and jasmine. The dry tea had a dazzling array of colors and a sweet aroma comparable to that of honey. The liquor was a light lemony yellow. I brewed this tea using my Zarafina tea maker, set on strong white.

I’ve been impressed with every Tea Guys blend I have tried and this selection is no exception. The ingredients blend beautifully together to create a complex palate that evokes a tropical vacation. The combination of the fruit, spices and flowers complement the tea rather than masking its flavor. That is very difficult to achieve with white tea, especially with an ingredient list that is so complicated. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Hou De Double Fish Aroma Cup Set

I have always been intrigued by the idea of aroma cups because aroma is one of my favorite qualities of tea. First the tea is poured in the aroma cup, the tasting cup is placed on top and then they are inverted so the tasting cup is on the bottom. The aroma cup is slowly lifted up, allowing the tea to flow into the tasting cup. The residual tea left in the aroma cup enables you to truly savor the scent of the tea.

I was drawn to this particular set because keeping aquarium fish are another one of my passions besides tea. I love the look of the blue fish against the white porcelain. I especially like how the fish design is added to the inside of the tasting cups as well as the outside.

Monday, November 3, 2008

TeaGschwendner Pineapple Mango

TeaGschwendner lists the ingredients as including black tea, pineapple and mango pieces, sunflower, rose and mallow blossoms, and natural flavor. I brewed this tea using my Zarafina tea maker, set on strong black. The dry leaves had a sweet, fruity aroma. The brightness of the fruit and flowers against the dark leaves was stunning. The liquor was a surprisingly pale for a black tea and the mango aroma was very apparent.

The taste was that of a classic black tea perfectly complimented by the tartness of the fruit. It was refreshing and light, a perfect desert tea. I always say that any good flavored tea has to start with a good quality base tea and it seems as though TeaGshwendner is one company who has gotten that right. I’ve had several of their teas and everyone made a very enjoyable cuppa. It is no wonder this tea was a top five finalist at the World Tea Championships. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Art of Tea No.4

I ordered this magazine from Hou De Asian Art & Fine Tea. I was amazed that they actually bubble wrapped it so bravo to them for wonderful packing. It was a tad expensive for a magazine but so completely worth it. It is jam packed full of information and insightful articles. I especially love how they have several authors cover the same topic, each one giving you a slightly different perspective. This issue also featured a puehr tasting that kept me turning pages. While the translations to English could be a bit wonky, they were easily understandable. Even if it were not in English, it would be worth it just for the amazing photographs. At over one hundred pages, I was able to spend several nights curled up reading with a good cup of tea. I would definitely recommend this magazine and I am sure I will be purchasing previous issues soon.
I rate this magazine a 10.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura

I picked up this fantastic little book in the tea aisle at Wegman’s. Unfortunately this edition doesn't seem to be widely available but I love how it is packaged. The sleeve ensures that the book does not become damaged in transport. I appreciated this a lot as I read this book during my train commutes to and from work. Part philosophy and part history, this book offers an amazing window into the world of Japanese tea.

However, it is not so much about tea itself but about the way of life that surrounds tea culture. He refers to it as “the way of tea” and I do not think Mr. Okakura could have summed it up any better. Reading this book is part of what truly started me on my tea journey. It reveals the deeper significance of art, nature, meditation and refinement that is now associated with the Japanese tea ceremony. I have since read it many times over and fear I may need to get a new copy if this one wears out. I would definitely recommend this book.

You can find out more about this book here