Thursday, December 17, 2009

Steepster Ultimate Holiday Tea Contest


Steepster recently announced one of the most awesome tea contests that I have ever heard of. The grand prize is a tea bundle worth more than $800, including an über cool Sorapot. To enter you can tweet about which tea in the bundle you would make first if you won or you can post on the discussion board topic. The contest ends at 8:00pm EST on December 18th so get a move on it!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tea Palace Sencha Aloe Vera


Sencha has become one of my favorite green teas because I love the delicate flavor. This blend sounded really interesting as I had never seen aloe vera in a tea ingredient list before. The dry leaves were deep green with visible pieces of pineapple. They smelled very fruity and slightly vegetal. I brewed this tea using my Zarafina tea maker set on strong green. The tea was a deep gold color and retained the same sweet aroma that the leaves had.

This tea was much better balanced than I was expecting. It was sweet and fruity but the sencha still shone through in the background. It also stood up well to resteeping. However, midway through my second cup I started getting a strange aftertaste that was almost medicinal. I believe this is from the aloe vera. My boyfriend had some sweetened with stevia and really liked it that way. I might not buy this tea but I certainly wouldn’t turn down a cup if it were offered.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Upcoming Reviews and a Giveaway

I am running a little behind in my tea reviewing duties but soon I’ll be posting five reviews of offerings from Golden Moon Tea. Their sugar caramel oolong tea is one of my all time favorites. I’m not a huge fan of flavored teas but Golden Moon is one of the few companies that know how to do them right. You can search their catalog based on the country of origin, time of day, type of cuisine and even your mood. Keep an eye out for these posts because commenting on each of them will enter you in a drawing to win some samples for yourself.

I have decided that from now on I will bite the bullet and pay extra for EMS shipping. I shipped my last TeaChat special order SAL and it still hasn’t gotten here yet, the suspense is killing me. Lu Yu has not made his appearance yet either.

Monday, November 30, 2009

California Tea House Organic Darjeeling


Photo: California Tea House
Darjeeling teas have always fascinated me. While grown in India, the variety of tea is actually a China or China-hybrid rather than the native Assam. This was the first offering I have tried from California Tea House. It is a second flush tea, which means it was harvested in June. The leaves were partially broken and had an sweet, earthy aroma. I followed the manufacturer’s directions; using boiling water and steeped it for three minutes. The resulting brew had a bright amber color.

This tea had the typical fruity “muscatel” flavor profile of a Darjeeling but with an additional peppery element more common in Yunnan teas. A second infusion yielded a cup that was just as enjoyable as the first. I think steeping any longer than three minutes would make it too bitter. This tea truly hit the spot on a cold and rainy day like this. I would definitely recommend it. As always, I love an organic tea. I think behooves us as tea drinkers to consider the consequences that our purchases have for tea growing regions. Why drink pesticides when you can go without?

You can find out more about this tea here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Norbu Tea Diamond Grade Tie Guan Yin Oolong Spring Harvest 2009


As my love affair with tea has evolved I’ve found myself favoring oolongs more and more. However, for a while I was convinced that I just did not like Tie Guan Yin. I always found them “fake” tasting but I figured I should give it another shot. My sample arrived in a vacuum sealed pack which was nice because I could immediately tell that the leaves were very fresh. They were mostly whole and bright green in color. They had an intensely floral fragrance that was apparent as soon as I opened the package. I made this tea in a gaiwan using boiling water.

Brewing it in this way this selection was a marathon tea. I actually lost count of how many infusions I made. In fact, there was only a difference in taste between infusions. The taste was multi-layered, floral as expected but also a refreshing aftertaste. The closest I can come to describing it is to say that it tasted like buttery orchids. I now think the selections that I’ve tried before must have been relatively low quality. I might just add it to my regular rotation.

Tieguanyin Oolong Tea on Foodista

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Teas Etc White Rose

Despite my delving deeper in the world of serious teas, I still have a secret love for floral teas. For that reason I was excited to get a generously sized sample of this selection. Upon first opening the bag the floral scent was very powerful, predominated by the rose petals. The dry tea had a scattering of white tea leaves but consisted mostly of bright pink rose petals and white blobs of chrysanthemum blooms. I like the fact that this tea is organic since flowers are often treated with chemical fertilizers and pesticides. I first brewed it according the manufacturers directions, with water close to boiling and steeped for 4 minutes. The second brewing was done using a Zarafina Tea Maker set on Medium White.

Neither attempt was much to my liking. The first try was way too strong and very sweet. I had seen other good reviews of this tea so I figured I should give it another go. Another TeaViews staff member used a Zarafina when she did her review so I used all of the same settings in hopes that the water temperature would make a difference. I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I was drinking potpourri or my rose water linen spray. I think when it comes to floral ingredients less is more. I’d rather have the white tea delicately accented than completely drowned out.

Friday, October 16, 2009

CDN Digital Tea Timer

 I finally killed my much treasured Taylor Tea Thermometer. Since it didn’t last me very long (due to overuse I am sure), I decided to try something new. A quick search on Amazon turned up the CDN Digital Tea Timer. The first thing that struck me when I got it was, WTF? Brozh? There were a whole bunch of tea abbreviations that I wasn’t familiar with at all. This was troubling since I drink an awful lot of tea and am familiar with most terms, even obscure Chinese ones.
So I called CDN and the girl I spoke to was very helpful, except she didn’t know what they meant either. The one thing I will give them is excellent cust0mer service. A week or so later she emailed me with the information. I’ll post it here in case anyone else out there is as confused as I was.
Baozhing - BROZH
Black - Black
Black Oolong - Booln
Chia - Chia
China - China
Darjeeling - Dajel
Earl Grey - earl grey
Fruit - fruit
Green - green
Green Oolong - gooln
Japanese - japan
Jasmine - jasmin
Poochung - pooch
Puerh - pueht
Root - root tea
White – white
Doesn’t make them much clearer but helps a little. I still have no idea what chia is. My guess is either the leaves that sprout from a chia pet or a mispelling of chai. It’s usable but I really do miss my Taylor thermometer. I’ll eventually cave and order other one but this will tide me over for now.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Yet another internet addiction

I need another Internet addiction like I need a hole in the head but this site is very cool nonetheless. They even have a tool where you can find twitter friends who also use Steepster. Check out this snippet from their "About Us" page. Click on the title of this blog entry to get to my Steepster page. I haven't added anything to my tealog yet but I will soon.


Steepster is the embodiment of the ultimate web-based tea drinking experience! But seriously, Steepster is a site that helps you keep an online log of the teas you drink. Using our super-simple interface, you can easily fill your tealog with tasting notes and tales of your tea drinking adventures. You can also follow other tea drinkers to see what’s in their cup, discovering brand new teas from people you know and trust.

Whether you’re a seasoned tea connoisseur drinking the finest aged pu-erh or fairly new to the game and just brew whatever happens to be in the office pantry, Steepster can help you be more mindful of your tea drinking habits and discover something new and exciting while you’re at it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tavalon NYC Breakfast

I drink many different kinds of tea but tend to heavily favor oolong and green teas. Every once in a while a black tea comes along that changes all that, at least for one cup. Tavalon’s NYC Breakfast is one of those teas. My sample was a funky, do –it–yourself tea bag with a fair amount of dry leaves in it. They had a pleasant sweet and nutty aroma. It’s funny but after writing so many reviews, I can usually tell if I will like a tea by the way the leaves smell. I steeped it using 212 degree water for five minutes.

The resulting tea was robust without being overpowering. Their website describes it as energizing and it definitely is. It had a nice aftertaste and did not need any milk or sweeteners. Quite frankly I think to do so would ruin it. That says a lot for a black tea. This tea was a morning staple of mine when I was working in of all places, NYC. I would definitely recommend it. In fact, I will probably order some the next time I win one of their fun Twitter contests. I will definitely have to try this tea iced as well.

Boulder Tea Jeong Seon

I’ve tried several selections from Boulder Tea, some I have loved and some I haven’t. I love that they offer some Korean teas, which are not common with most tea makers we get here in the US. This one was a bit of a toss up. The leaves looked mostly whole and fairly fresh. There wasn’t much of a detectable fragrance though. It was packaged in a silky satchet, very typical of higher end tea bags. I steeped this tea using 170 degree water. On finding the taste to be very mellow, I decided to keep the bag in the cup to see if it would strengthen the brew a bit.

This tea vaguely reminded me of Gyokuro but it was not quite as strong or sweet. I love a delicate green tea, as this one seems to be. Unfortunately, its downfall was that tea bags are not really the best way to prepare it. I was surprised at what a small amount of leaves was put in the tea sachet. Even after the leaves were fully expanded, there was plenty of empty space. I feel this really hurt the flavor because there wasn’t quite enough for even a modest cup of tea. It was an fairly decent tea, especially for a tea bag, but I probably wouldn’t recommend it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Teacarina, the Musical Tea Cup

Every once in a while, I allow myself to splurge on something tea related that isn't practical but just simply fun and I've been coveting one of these for quite some time. It's a Teacarina, part tea cup and part ocarina. It is surprisingly functional and pretty to look at but with the added benefit of being able to annoy everyone within hearing range. It is double walled and features four variably sized holes on one side and a single large hole on the other. Even though I don't own one, it is nice to know that they are dishwasher safe. It's nice to not have to worry about ruining some sensitive piece of teaware for once. As someone possessing very little musical ability, I definitely do not sound like the person in the video below. The included fingering chart was relatively easy to follow, I just don't quite have the coordination or lung capacity to make it happen. Maybe with enough tea and practice I can some day.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Adagio launches Roots campaign to support tea farmers

I love companies that do more than just sell a product and Adagio is one of them. They've recently launched a campaign called Roots. It seems like these days, everyone in the tea industry purports to have a close relationship with the farmers who grow their tea but how many actually do something to directly help their farmers and involve customers in doing so? Here is a snippet about the program. I think I may be in need of some jasmine tea this month, how about you?

Starting on September 1st, we will be launching the "Roots Campaign" on our site. A chance for our customers to meet the individual farmers who produce our teas and to gain an insight on the process of growing and making tea. Each month we will be highlighting a different tea from our product line and featuring the tea artisans that grew and crafted this tea. Users will be able to read about who that farmer is, view photos of their land and family, & read their answers to select questions that we have chosen. To show our deep appreciation, 10% of the sales from the featured tea will be donated back to the farmer it was sourced from.

The project is slated to run for 12 months and will feature 12 farmers from different tea-growing regions around the world. At the end of the campaign, we will be conducting followup interviews to find out just how the farmers were able to benefit from the donations.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Radiance Redux

My wonderful boyfriend surprised me with dinner at Radiance Tea House & Books, my absolute favorite semi-local tea place. We shared a pot of oriental beauty over a delicious meal. I was shocked and amazed because Mike managed to drink it all without adding any stevia! Not only is the tea amazing but the food is great too. The staff is super friendly and knowledgeable. I picked up some gyokoru green tea since I have a hagi houjin on its way from Japan. If you ever get a chance to go, their tea tastings are a must see. They hold them every Tuesday night. Sign up for the email list to receive updates on what teas are being served at each week's tasting. Now that my work schedule allows me to be a normal human being, I plan on attending as often as my wallet will allow. Taking the PATH and subway is a bit of a hassle but it was so worth it.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tavalon Sweet Lemongrass

I won one of Tavalon’s Twitter contests so I used my prize to buy an assortment of their teas. I’m not a big fan of herbals but their Sweet Lemongrass was included so I figured I would try it anyway. According to my dictionary it is a tropical grass that is native to southern India and Sri Lanka, yielding aromatic oil used as flavoring and in perfumery and medicine. The dry tea pretty much looked like dried grass but with slightly more variance in color.

This tea just wasn’t for me. I usually love Tavalon’s teas but I think my dislike of this particular selection has more to do with flavor preferences. It wasn’t offensive; it just tasted like lemon flavored water and I guess that I’m just not a lemony person. I do keep this tea at work so I can get a vitamin c boost when I feel under the weather. It wasn’t bad but I probably wouldn’t recommend this tea.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Tavalon Menage a Gummies

I’ve been intrigued by Tavalon’s gourmet gummie bears for some time so when I saw the Tavalon booth at the New York Coffee and Tea Festival I took the change to pick up a small jar. While not exactly “healthy” for you they use all natural ingredients, some of which are organic. They smelled amazing due to the fact that they use real fruit extracts instead of artificial flavoring. I love finding something I can indulge in without feeling guilty afterwards.

At $5.50 for 4oz they are probably the most expensive gummy bears I have ever had but I have to say that it was worth it. They are simply melt in your mouth delicious. They come in acai blueberry, pomegranate white tea and peach green tea. I actually found myself rationing them so that I wouldn’t run out too quickly. These sweet treats would make a great gift for a tea loving friend.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Den’s Tea Sencha Fuka-midori

For a long time I wasn’t a fan of sencha. Now I realize that my first few attempts were with relatively low quality tea. Den’s has always seemed to be THE source for green tea so I ordered their green tea sampler and this tea was included. The leaves were a dark emerald color and smelled fresh but not quite the freshly mowed lawn smell I was expecting. I brewed this tea in a cast iron tea pot called a testubin with 170 degree water for two and a half minutes. This was longer than Den’s directions but my testubin is fairly large and I was worried about ending up with a weak brew.

The brewed tea had a slight roasted aroma but also retained the fresh smell of the dry leaves. This tea was naturally sweet and had a taste that lingered long after taking a sip. It was not bitter in the least. I compared a cooled cup and a still hot cup and they were both equally delicious. I think I would be hard pressed to find a green tea that was a refreshing as this selection. It was perfect for a warm northeastern day like today.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Taylor Connoisseur Digital Tea Thermometer/Timer

For most of my tea drinking career I’ve been a fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl. I didn’t care much about having my water at the proper temperature or steeping for the right times. However, as time went by I’ve realized that it really does improve the tea to brew it correctly. I’m still no expert so I wanted to something easy to use that had preset temperatures for the different kinds of teas. I found that in the Taylor Connoisseur Digital Tea Thermometer/Timer. It has preset temperatures and steeping times for white, green, black, puerh, oolong, darjeeling and herbal teas.

It has been absolutely indispensible, especially when brewing delicate white and green teas. I love that all of the presets are adjustable so that I can still easily follow the vendor’s recommendations for a particular tea. The beeping alarm is loud enough for me to hear that my tea is ready from the next room but isn’t overly loud and annoying. I would definitely recommend this thermometer to anyone looking to improve their tea brewing practices.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Jada Mountain Mint Tea Pouch

I picked up a package of these at the New York Coffee and Tea Festival. The basic idea behind these pouches is to have the great taste and benefits of tea without actually having to brew it in a cup. They are available in five tea flavors and one coffee variety. Jada’s motto is “It steeps in our mouth, not in your cup”. You just pop these pint size tea bags into your mouth and suck on them to release the flavor.

I’m not sure exactly how to describe the experience of this product. I am very particular about textures and the feeling of a paper tea bag in my mouth was rather unsettling. The mint taste was fine but I just couldn’t get over that odd feeling. Bits of leaves also came out of the bag frequently. There are some people who would enjoy this product but I think I would much rather have a nice cup of mint tea.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Radiance

This week I had the pleasure of stopping in at what I think is the best tea house I have been to yet. Radiance is located in New York City and is relatively easy to get to. I went straight from work so I decided to get dinner before the tea tasting that they would be having later that night. The service was excellent as was the food.

The staff are so enthusiastic about tea, it is infectious. Radiance has tea tastings every Tuesday. If you are ever in the area I highly recommend it. They prepared five different teas, talking about each one and offered to fill our tasting cups multiple times. Not only was it good tea but good conversation as well. The teaware is expensive but of very good quality. All in all, Radiance is my new favorite tea spot. It is timely change since Amai closed its doors this past weekend.

Monday, April 20, 2009

New York Coffee and Tea Festival 2009

This past weekend was the New York Coffee and Tea Festival. It was smaller than I expected but still a very enjoyable experience. There were tables from all different vendors, giving out samples or selling their wares. I bought some interesting products, both good and bad, that I will be reviewing soon. I also picked up a super nice glass electric kettle from Tavalon.

The highlight was a Korean loose leaf tea ceremony by Teamaster Yoon Hee Kim. I've never seen a tea ceremony before. It was incredibly beautiful and audience was noticeably silent during the whole ceremony. I only wish I could be that graceful. It definately made me want to explore tea ceremonies further. Here are some really bad cell phone pictures that I snapped:




Monday, April 6, 2009

Steeped in the World of Tea

I have an entire shelf full of books about tea. They are all written by different authors but they all generally contain the typical information and anecdotes on the history of tea. I recently had the pleasure of reading a very unusual book called Steeped in the World of Tea. It is an anthology of short stories, poems and essays punctuated with Juliana Spears’ photographs of tea and tea ware from around the world. There were stories that made me laugh, poems that made me remember peaceful moments spent with a good cup of tea and even a few that brought tears to my eyes.

The contributors are diverse but they all have tea in common. This is the real story of tea, the sensations and experiences that are the common thread we all share despite cultural or geographical differences. The editors are donating a portion of their proceeds to Food First, a non-profit education-for-action center committed to establishing food as a fundamental human right. If you are lover of tea then this is a must read.

You can find out more about this book here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tavalon Jasmine Dream

If you’ve read any of my other reviews you would know that I am a complete jasmine addict. I’ve heard very good things about this blend so I could not wait to try it when I won a coupon in one of Tavalon’s many Twitter contests. The leaves were a very dark green and the scent of the jasmine was so strong that I was able to smell it through the package. I brewed this tea at work so I don’t have the exact specs. It is relatively bomb proof though. I haven’t had a bad cup yet.

This tea is obviously of a high quality because it very heavily scented. The taste and scent lasts through at least three steepings and I am always left feeling like I could have gotten another brew out of it. This was the first jasmine tea I have tried that did not have visible blooms in it. It detracts a little from the visual aspect but did not seem to have affected the taste very much.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Rishi Genmai Green 100% Premium Tea Powder

Rishi contacted me through my personal tea blog and sent me samples of their new Natural Leaf Powder line. I was interested to see how the taste of genmai would carry through to this new format. Genmai is green tea with roasted rice added to it. I took a couple of sips from my bottle first so that it would be a little easier to mix. The powder was a bit clumpy but dissolved very quickly with a few shakes.

The tea itself was darker than the oolong that I had tried previously. I wasn’t expecting this to be as good as a loose leaf tea and it didn’t quite get there but it was not bad by any stretch of the imagination. It was refreshingly mild and sweet with just a hint of the roasted flavor from the rice. I love the fact that these powders are unsweetened.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Rishi Green Oolong 100% Premium Tea Powder

Rishi was kind enough to send me samples of their new Natural Leaf Powder line. I was especially excited to try the oolong as I had only seen green tea in this form before. I took a sip or two from my bottle first so that it would be a little easier to mix. The powder looked a little clumpy when it first went in but dissolved very quickly with a few good shakes.

As expected with any instant tea it isn’t quite as good as the real thing. However, it was surprisingly tasty and refreshing. It was on the nuttier side of the oolong spectrum. I love the fact that these are unsweetened. Being a fanatical loose leaf tea drinker, I have lost most of my taste for sweetened tea. I think I may need to pick up a box of these the next time I make the trek to Whole Foods.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Teajo Black Manas

Teajo describes this tea as a tippy golden flowery orange pekoe single estate tea. There was a fair amount of broken leaves visible but there was not much of an aroma. I brewed it using my Zarafina Tea Maker, set on strong black. The liquor was a deep reddish color. The leaves expanded a lot more than I thought they would after steeping.

This tea packed a surprising amount of punch. It is smooth and malty but has an almost peppery finish. The peppery feeling lingered long after the last sip. I love a full bodied black tea and this is one of the best stand alone blacks I have tried. It didn’t need any sweeteners at all. The aftertaste wasn’t biting like a lot of black teas can be. The second infusion was just as delicious as the first. It would have been nice to know which estate the tea came from. Other than that you will hear no complaints from me about this selection.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Jing Tea Silver Needle White Tea 2008

This year has been an oolong odyssey for me so I was looking forward to the change of pace that this tea had to offer. Jing’s website explains that it was picked at the end of March 2008 and is made up of the first spring buds of the Da-Bai tea plant. Silver needle is the highest grade of white tea and is still a reigning favorite in my book. The dry leaves were covered in the signature silvery down and had a faint floral scent. I brewed this tea in a gaiwan with 176° water, steeping it for three minutes. The liquor was a light gold color and had a similar aroma to the dry leaves.

This tea was sweet and mellow, just what I would expect from a silver needle. It also had a fresh aftertaste that was very pleasant. The thing that I love most about this type of tea is that it is nearly impossible to botch the brewing. You could toss the leaves in a mug and just let them sink to the bottom and still wind up with a delicous tea. The flavor of this one held up for several steepings, each progressively longer than the last. I have had better quality silver needle teas but this is still a wonderful selection.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tea Places: Ito En Flagship Store

If there was a tea heaven, this place is it. I made the trek to the Ito En flagship store after become addicted to their Dong Ding oolong at Amai. The staff was incredibly sweet, knowledgeable and helpful. They offered assistance but gave me plenty of space so I could browse their museum-like teaware displays. I wound up with three onces of Dong Ding, pricey but so very worth it. Two cute little cups followed me home as well. They go perfectly with the funky kyusu that I ordered from Hibiki-an.

Gorgeous new kyusu018012

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Boulder Tea Oolong

I have enjoyed several of Boulder Tea’s green teas so I was looking forward to trying their oolong. Unfortunately, I have to say that I was very disappointed with this oolong. Boulder Tea describes this tea as a Korean semi-fermented green oolong with long loose leaves and tender flavor. I tried brewing this tea two different ways. First, I brewed it using my Zarafina tea maker. Second, I used a traditional teapot with an infuser basket. The liquor was a deep gold color, turning out slightly darker using the tea maker.

I could not detect any aroma in either cup. There was no flavor to speak of in both attempts as well, not even bitterness. I may as well have been drinking plain hot water. I am a lover of oolongs because of the range of flavors they possess. This tea simply did not cut the mustard. I’ve had other Korean oolongs and enjoyed them very much so I’m not sure what the problem with this selection was.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Tea Guys Ginger Peach Black Tea

The dry leaves of this tea were a feast for the eyes. The different shades of black and brown reminded me of autumn leaves. Tea Guys lists the ingredients of this as including black tea, organic black tea, organic rooibos, ginger, cinnamon, organic honeybush, natural flavors and cloves. This is the first tea I’ve tried that had actually pieces of crystallized ginger in it. I brewed this tea using my Zarafina tea maker set on strong black. The liquor was a deep red, similar to a typical rooibos. The cinnamon and cloves dominated the aroma of both the dry leaves and the brewed tea.

This tea was mild but certainly had the sweet and spicy elements that one would expect from these ingredients. I love the kick that the ginger provides. I managed to get two full flavored steepings from a single 0.3 oz sample. This would make an excellent iced tea as well. I am consistently impressed by Tea Guys’ offerings and always look forward to trying their samples. It seems that this blend has been replaced by a similar version that uses Darjeeling instead of regular black tea.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Rishi Osmanthus Silver Needle

Rishi explains that this tea is scented with fresh osthmanthus flowers in a process similar to jasmine scenting and they describe the flavor as having notes of apricot and honey. The dry leaves had the distinctive peach fuzz of a silver needle. The osmanthus was there but not in large quantity. I brewed this tea using both my Zarafina tea maker, set on strong white, and in a regular tea pot using an infuser basket. In the infuser basket I let the leaves steep for 5 minutes, as per the manufacturer’s directions.

I love white tea and I love osmanthus, but apparently not in the same tea. This blend just didn’t do much for me but was by no means a bad tea. It is just that I’ve had better silver needle and I’ve had better osmanthus scented tea. My feeling is that this has more to do with how the tea was scented than the bloom content of the dry leaves themselves. I think this sweet smelling flower makes a much better pairing with green tea.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Twitter

I think I have developed a serious Twitter addiction. In a very short period of time I've managed to connect with a ton of great people. There is quite the tea drinking community on there. I have 37 followers and am following 73 people right now but the numbers are always changing. Here are some of my favorites:

-Teaviews: OK, so I'm a little biased since I am on the Teaviews staff. But they'd still be awesome even if I wasn't.
-sevencups: One of my favorite vendors, podcasters and just good all around tea folks.
-geoffk: great writer and tea enthusiast
-OrganicTea: fellow tea blogger
-aliasgirl18: a lover of tea, tv and books. We have similar taste in american idol contestants :)
-lainiep: another fellow tea blogger


I've also had a bunch of offers for free samples from vendors, can't go wrong there :).

P.S. You can get to my twitter page by clicking on the title of this post.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My New York Tea Wishlist

Since I am now working in New York City, I plan on taking full advantage of the bevy of tea houses that have sprung up.

*edit I'm going to put a strike through the places I have been to



I'm sure I'll be adding more to this list as I discover more places but its certainly a start.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Scouting for Tea

I'm a Girl Scout leader and at our last meeting I taught the girls all about tea. I was pretty nervous about how it would go and if they would interested at all. To my delight, they were enthralled. I explained a bit on the history of tea and then showed them all of my teaware. I brewed some of each major type of tea so that they could try them. They absolutely loved watching me make matcha but hated how it tastes. Oolong was the crowd favorite by far and they thought my yixing and aroma cups were very cool. Cleanup was a pain but it was worth it to have a whole troop of teenagers get excited about tea :).

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Adagio Teas Signature Blends - My First Attempt

Since my boyfriend has recently discovered his love of tea, I decided to attempt to make an Adagio signature blend for him as a Valentine's day gift (don't worry, he never reads this blog so my cover isn't blown). He's a big fan of flavored teas and adulterating them with stevia so my blend was a combo of vanilla oolong, mango and chocolate. I ordered some for myself too just to make sure it doesn't taste like poop. This is so not a "me" tea but it actually wasn't that bad. It got better as it cooled off, which is perfect since he prefers his tea luke warm. I also got him their tasting set so he'd having something manly to brew in :). I'll be sure to post his reaction. I'm excited because his present to me is a trip to Cha Ma Gu Dao before going to a Jersey Rockhoppers hockey game.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Tea Places: Teavana - Bridgewater Commons

There has been a lot of discussion on Tea Chat as of late on the ethics of Teavana. I had never been to one of their stores so I really wasn't sure what to expect. I wound up wandering this very small store for half an hour, mostly oggling the teaware. The staff was friendly and helpful, not the rude and pushy types that I have heard about.

Unfortunately, while I was distracted a very convincing salesperson did manage to corner my boyfriend. He loved one of the mixed blends so she easily talked him into buying an infuser mug, two different teas and a too large tin to store his new tea in. I feel bad for not having rescued him in time but atleast this means that his tea conversion is progressing nicely :). I was in search of cups to match the kyusu that will be on its way soon but I didn't have much luck. I did manage to pick up a copy of Liquid Jade by Beatrice Hohenegger for 50% off though. It is my new commute read and there will be a review of it as soon as I am done.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tea Places: Amai Tea & Bake House

I've been working in Gramercy Park for a few months now and never knew that Amai Tea & Bake House existed until my manager pointed it out. The space is very small but they make the most of it. I LOVE that they store their teas in an old library card catalog. So far I have tried the dong ding and goddess of mercy oolongs and both were wonderful. Their loose leaf is expensive but that is to be expected in this neighborhood. A cup to go is slightly cheaper than starbucks and certainly much more tasty. One of these days I will find the time to get a pot to stay so that I can enjoy one of their delicious sounding tea infused baked goods. I do wish they had more teaware but it is probably better for the health of my wallet that they don't.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Tea Places: Ana Beall's Tea Room

I've been visiting my boyfriend in a nearby town for years and never knew that this gem existed in Westfield, New Jersey. The staff was so courteous, even taking our jackets when we came in. The decor was inviting and it felt more like sitting in a friend's living room than a restaurant. The food was simply done but tasted amazing. I highly recommend the lemon chicken sandwich. My boyfriend really enjoyed the pull pork sandwich.

The tea wasn't stupendous but I think that had a lot to do with the fact that they use filter bags instead of leaving the tea leaves loose in the pot. We had the formosa oolong, which was a little bland. I mentioned this in my review on TeaMap and the owner quickly replied saying that in the future I can ask for loose leaves and a strainer instead. I will definately be going back soon. Their brunch menu sounds even better than what was offered for lunch.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Renaissance of Tea

In keeping with the tea movie theme from yesterday, I came across this gem on Teance's website. Looks like another must watch.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

All In This Tea

All In This Tea is exactly the type of documentary that a tea enthusiast would ask for. It gives an inside look at the history and culture of tea, how it is made and how it makes its way to our cups here in the United States. This film is beautifully done and many of the shots of the Chinese countryside and mountains are simply breathtaking. It is factual without being overly dry or serious. While most of the film follows David Lee Hoffman, it also features interviews and lectures from several other renowned tea experts. I could listen to James Norwood Pratt pontificate on tea all day.

There are so many aspects of the tea industry that the buying public has no conception of. It gave me a new appreciation of the tea farmers that truly are masters of their craft. David struggles to show the tea factory executives the advantages that handmade, organic teas have over those produced in factories. I sincerely hope that his prediction that the art of making such high quality tea will soon be lost never comes to pass. I felt the sudden urge to take a tea tour of China after watching this film. It had the same effect on my occasionally tea drinking boyfriend. For that feat alone, I am eternally grateful. I am also now very jealous of David’s Puerh cave.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

TeaGschwendner North India Manjhee Valley First Flush

TeaGschwendner explains that this tea is grown in the mile-high Manjhee Valley of India. The first thing that I noticed about this tea was that I had absolutely no idea what sort of tea it was. The greenish leaves were fairly large and intact. They smelled fresh and earthy but weren’t really typical of any type of tea that I had previously tried. I was very surprised to learn that it is a black tea. I brewed this tea using my Zarafina tea maker set on strong black. The liquor was a deep golden color and had a sweet scent.

This tea was compelling but I struggle to describe exactly how it tastes. The description on TeaGschwendener’s website probably sums it up the best, “bright and vegtal with slightly sour notes of wet stone”. It was salty and gritty but in a way that actually made it enjoyable to drink. The saltiness wasn’t apparent while sipping but appeared as an oddly pleasant aftertaste. It was similar to a Darjeeling but was still very unique.

I have my second Yixing tea pot and a matching setting for six on its way soon from China Dragon Tea House along with some Tie Guan Yin. Pictures will definately be forthcoming.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tea Gshwendner Strawberry White Tea

Tea Gshwendner continues to be one of my favorite tea companies. Nearly all of their teas that I have tried have been exceptionally good and their strawberry white tea is no exception. The manufacturer lists the ingredients as including white tea, strawberries and natural flavor. I surprised to see that the dry leaves really did consist of white tea leaves and large bits of strawberry. Many strawberry teas that I have tried used various other berries to create a faux strawberry that often results in a bitter brew. I made this tea using my Zarafina tea maker set on strong white. The liquor was deep yellow and the aroma of strawberries was very apparent.

This tea was simply wonderful. It was obvious that the white tea used was of a very high quality. The strawberry and the taste of the white tea complement each other so well. It was sweet and delicate without lacking in flavor. My very picky boyfriend who sweetens even the nicest of teas found it to be sweet enough on its own. I am sure that I will find myself ordering this tea in the near future. I think it would make a fantastically refreshing iced tea.

I know I've been bad but I have a lot of stuff coming. More reviews and my first attempts at matcha!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tea Places: Cha Ma Gu Dao

This past weekend I had the immense pleasure of frequenting a tea house in Montclair, New Jersey called Cha Ma Gu Dao. I was in awe as I had never seen so much loose leaf tea or serious teaware in one place. The whole place was very zen and relaxing. Their tea menu is larger than the menus of many restaurants. It was a tough choice but I decided on the high mountain light roasted oolong. The service was great and so was the tea. While there I also purchased a washi box, one of their three tiered tea tins and some white tea. Reviews of all three with be coming soon. If you are ever in the area I highly suggest checking them out.