Friday, December 31, 2010

The Puritea Emerald Needle

The Puritea decribes this selection as a Chinese green tea. The dry leaves of this tea were light green and shaped almost like a silver needle would be. I can see where the name comes from. I steeped this tea for three minutes in a kyusu using 180 degree water. The liquor was very pale, almost resembling a white tea.

This tea was wonderfully delicate and full bodied at the same time. It was vegetal with hints of fruit and a bit of creaminess. There was a tiny bit of astringency but not so much to make it unpleasant. The second infusion was even better, with the fruity notes coming to the forefront. I love a green tea that is so naturally sweet. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Arbor Teas Holiday Spice

Arbor Teas lists the ingredients of this blend as including organic Indian black tea, organic orange peel, organic cinnamon, organic clove, and natural orange cinnamon spice flavor. I made this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 212 degree water for three minutes. The dry leaves were dark with bright pieces of orange peel mixed throughout.

Even though I smelled the spices in the dry tea, I couldn’t detect any of them when I drank it. It almost tasted like an earl grey because of the orange peel. As a flavored black tea this is actually a decent selection but when something is called holiday spice I expect a strong cinnamon flavor. It wasn't bad, just not what I expected. I would probably recommend this tea.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Puritea Roasted Dong Ding

According to The Puritea, this is a roasted oolong from Taiwan. The dry leaves were very dark green in color and had a tightly rolled appearance. They had a strong floral aroma. I made this tea in a porcelain gaiwan using 180 degree water and three consecutive 40 second infusions. The liquor was a pale yellow.

The first infusion was sweet and delicately floral as one would expect from a dong ding. There were hints of vanilla and a toasty aftertaste as well. The second infusion was much more full flavored than the first. The floral aspect gave way to a nuttier and more vegetal flavor. The third infusion was a milder, smoother version of the second. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Presents

Santa was good to me this year. I got the teapot I really wanted as well as an adorable tea set. I hope you all got the tea things you wanted . A combination of my life becoming really busy and a head cold that I couldn’t get over has kept me from reviewing teas lately. My new year’s resolution is to get back at it with a vengeance.

The first is a Ginger Lily Teapot from Pier 1 and the second is a teaset from Teavana.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Stash Tea Christmas Morning

This blend is what I like to call a kitchen sink tea because it has a little bit of everything. Stash lists the ingredients as including Darjeeling first flush, Indian assam, China keemun and Yunnan, southern Indian teas, Formosa oolong, and jasmine flower. I made this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 212 degree water for two minutes. The leaves were mostly dark in color with the occassional jasmine flower peeking through.

Steeping time for this tea was tricky because it was such a mix of different teas. I started with five minutes but found that to be too strong and bitter. Two minutes seemed to be just right. The flavor profile was really interesting because at times I could taste the individual teas that make up this blend. At other times it just tasted like a rather decent tasting black tea. This is a nice wake up tea and I would definitely recommend it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rishi Tea Organic Cinnamon Plum

Cinnamon Plum, Organic Fair Trade Botanical Blend
Rishi lists the ingredients of this tea as including organic cinnamon, organic Fair Trade Certified™ hibiscus, organic currants, organic licorice root and natural plum flavor. The dry leaves were a potpourri of colors and textures with an intoxicating aroma. I steeped this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 212 degree water for five minutes. The liquor was an incredibly deep and vibrant red color that reminded me of Kool-aid.

When I first tried this tea it was way too tart. I found it to be overly sweet and couldn’t taste the cinnamon. I've seen so many good reviews of this tea that I felt it deserved another chance. I tried it again, this time steeping it for only three minutes. What a difference those two minutes made! Instead of being overpowering it was pleasantly sweet with just a hint of spice. It almost reminded me of a mulled cider. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Puritea Jasmine Golden Yunnan

I am a complete and utter jasmine addict so I was really excited to try this blend. The leaves were beautiful to look at, with the occasional blossom peaking through the golden brown curls. The heady scent of jasmine quickly filled the room as they steeped. I made this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 212 degree water for five minutes.

The peppery element of the yunnan and the floral sweetness of the jasmine perfectly compliment one another. Both aspects of this tea were able to shine through with muddying the individual flavors. It was slightly astringent but not in an unpleasant way. I actually like this combo even better than jasmine’s usual pairing with green tea. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Green Tea Lovers Shincha Kagoshima

This is a first crop, young bud sencha that was grown in Kagoshima Perfecture, Japan. According to Green Tea Lovers shincha has a higher content of amino acids (L-Theanine) and vitamin C. The dry leaves were small and very dark green in color. They had aroma that almost reminded me of mint. I steeped this tea in a kyusu using 160 degree water and three subsequent 40 second infusions. The liquor was a bright yellow green with a somewhat cloudy appearance.

This tea was mellow and refreshing but surprisingly full flavored. The predominant flavor was sweet and floral but there was also an element of nuttiness in the background, similar to genmaicha. The third infusion was just as potent as the first. It felt as though it could have withstood a few more infusions if I wasn't in danger of floating away after drinking three kyusu. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tea Places: In Pursuit of Tea

I recently had the pleasure of attending a tea and cheese tasting at In Pursuit of Tea’s new shop on Crosby Street in Soho. I’m going a little link crazy in this one but I really want to recognize the great companies involved. It was conducted by Sebastian Beckwith from In Pursuit of Tea, Benoit Breal from Saxelby Cheese, and Melanie Franks, a chef instructor at the French Culinary Institute. We sampled six teas, ranging from white tea to puerh, that were each paired with a different cheese. Even thought I’m adventurous in my tea drinking I’m actually quite the picky eater so I was a little worried that I would not enjoy the cheese portion of the event. Luckily all of the cheeses were amazing as were the teas.

It was really interesting to see how the cheese and teas changed and complimented each other’s flavor profiles. My favorite combo was definitely a 2nd flush Darjeeling paired with Ascutney Mountain cheese. The dong ding and sencha were also fantastic. It was a very enjoyable event and it is always great to talk shop with folks who are as crazy about tea as I am. While small, the shop is cozy and the staff are so passionate about what they do. I did have to restrain myself from making a teaware purchase as I’ve simply run out of room at this point.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Boston Tea Company Ginger, Peach and Apricot Black Tea


Boston Tea Company lists the ingredients of this blend as including Chinese black tea, ginger pieces, peach pieces, apricot pieces and natural ginger-peach flavor. The dry leaves were a uniform dark brown with pale pieces of fruit mixed in. The ginger was very apparent in their aroma. I steeped this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 212 degree water for three minutes.

This tea tea had a pleasant natural sweetness to it. The taste almost reminded me of Smarties candies. The black tea provided a nice nutty base. I couldn’t detect much of the ginger in the flavor profile but that is ok by me since ginger can be overpowering. There was surprisingly little astringency, something I appreciate in a fruit tea. I would definitely recommend this tea.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Teapod Earl Grey

According to Teapod this tea consists of Sri Lankan black tea flavored with natural bergamot oil. Bergamot is an orange that is grown in Italy. The lemon peels and bright blue cornflowers added a nice punch of color to the dark brown leaves. They had a very strong citrus aroma. I steeped this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 212 degree water for four minutes.

This tea was earthy and sweet. The citrus flavor was well done, not too much and not too little. I am not a big fan of Earl Grey teas but this one was exceptionally good. Very often Earl Greys leave a thick and oily feeling in my mouth but that didn’t happen here. This is the second tea I’ve tried from Teapod and I’ve been very impressed so far. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Chicago Tea Garden Green Elephant Pu-erh Beencha


According to Chicago Tea Garden these beenchas were manufactured in 2005 and stored in a man-made puerh cave in the United States. The dry leaves had a dark and flakey appearance. The aroma was sweet and earthy, more reminiscent of good top soil than the forest floor smell you get from many puerhs. I made this tea in a porcelain gaiwan using 212 degree water and 40 second steepings. The liquor was a deep and murky chestnut in color.

The first infusion was very mild with just a hint of a smoky aftertaste. The second was woodsier tasting and had a sweet finish. The third was a just slightly toned down version of the second infusion. I had to stop there but it definitely could have continued on for several more infusions. Overall this was a nice and straightforward puerh. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Canton Tea Co. Jasmine Pearls

This tea consisted of green tea that has been scented with jasmine and rolled into a tiny pearl shapes. Each pearl had a silvery haired appearance with stripes of green and white. The dry leaves were very fragrant, probably more so than other other jasmine tea I have tried. I steeped this tea in a glass tea pot with 165 degree water for three minutes. One of the best things about pearl type teas is watching the leaves unfurl. The liquor was an extremely pale green in color.

The only word that I can find to describe this tea is lovely. It was perfectly balanced between the sweetness of the jasmine and the white tea. It was not perfumy as some jasmine teas can be and there was very little astringency.  There was a slightly creamy quality as well that I have never experienced with a silver needle before. I did two infusions but think that it could have withstood a few more. I would definitely recommend this tea.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Stash Tea Pure Guayusa

Photo: Stash Tea
Guayusa (prounced "why-you-suh") is a holly plant that is native to the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador. It is related to yerba maté, a similarly prepared tea that is native to Uruguay. The dry leaves were a mix of many shades of green and had a jagged, chopped appearance. I steeped this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 212 degree water for four minutes. The liquor was deep brown in color.

I’ve heard that yerba maté is very bitter so I wasn’t sure what I was in for with its Ecuadorian cousin. It was actually surprisingly pleasant. It was woodsy and with a bit of sweetness on the end of each sip. It almost tasted like a toned down version of rooibos. I didn’t notice a caffeine jolt like I was expecting but that is a good thing since I’ve developed a slight sensitivity lately. I would definitely recommend this tea.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Element Tea Citrus Chamomile

Citrus ChamomileElement Tea lists the ingredients of this tea as including chamomile flowers, Sudanese hibiscus, citrus peels and citrus flavors. The dried tea was a bright and cheery mix of yellows and oranges. There also appeared to be apples and vanilla bean pieces in there as well. They had a strong, woodsy aroma. I steeped this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 212 degree water for five minutes. The liquor was a light amber color.

I’m not a big fan of chamomile but this blend was actually quite nice. More fruity than floral, it was naturally sweet and just bit creamy. The vanilla and apple were actually the predominant flavors. This tea has inspired me to drink more herbal teas. I’ve developed a slight caffeine intolerance so that is probably a good thing. It definitely did relax me, I wound up falling asleep way before my bed time not long after finishing my last cup. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Tea Places: Radiance Tea House and Books

This post is the first in a series that I will be doing on tea places in New York City. I decided to kick off my tour at Radiance Tea and Books. This time I had the pleasure of visiting with a future tea sommelier. There is nothing better than sharing good tea with good company. I had the miso soup, a salmon summer roll and two pots of Bi Luo Chun. The great thing about filling up on tea is that it keeps me from ordering dessert.

Located on West 55th street between 6th and 7th Avenue, they are one of my most favorite places in New York. Once I step inside the door I forget all about the city buzz outside. Their staff is enthusiastic, knowledgeable and polite. The restaurant is always impeccably clean and I’ve yet to try anything on their menu that wasn’t amazingly delicious. I really could not ask for more. If you have a chance to go, their tea tastings are definitely a must see.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rishi Tea Fuding Silver Needle Grand Cru

Photo: Rishi Tea
According to Rishi Tea, this is a premium grade of white tea from the Northern Fujian region of China. It was picked at exactly the right state of immaturity and processed during the proper time of year. The leaves were long and broad in shape with very few broken pieces. They were covered in tiny downy hairs, giving them a silvery appearance. I steeped this tea in a glass tea pot with 170 degree water for two minutes.

At first I thought that this tea would be a little disappointing but the more I drank of it the more I was able to taste the subtle complexity. At first it was melon-like and slightly floral. As it cooled it actually started to taste more like squash, maybe butternut? I love it when a silver needle surprises me. This is one of the best silver needles I’ve had because of that. I would definitely recommend this tea.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Naivetea Wen Shan Bao Zhong

Photo: Naivetea
This tea is a lightly oxidized oolong that was grown in Northern Taiwan. The dry leaves were a gorgeous deep green color, reminiscent of seaweed, and had a gnarled and twisted shape. I made this tea in a porcelain gaiwan using 195 degree water and three subsequent 40 second infusions. The liquor was a bright yellow.

The first infusion was intensely floral. There are many oolongs that are said to taste like orchid but this one truly does. The second was slightly more vegetal but still very pleasant. The third infusion was a more mellow, toned down version of the first. I have been consistently impressed by Naivetea’s offerings and this selection is no different. I would definitely recommend this tea.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Green Tea Glazed Sugar Cookies

Photo: Tea for Me Please
My penchant for cooking with matcha has found yet another outlet. I found a recipe to make a green tea glaze and decided to try it on my best sugar cookie recipe. They weren’t the prettiest cookies you ever saw but boy were they tasty! The sugar cookie recipe is actually an early Girl Scout cookie recipe. The only downside is that the dough usually turns out very sticky. I always wind up kneading in extra flower until it gets to the right consistency. I was being lazy and didn’t sift the powdered sugar or matcha. The dark colored specks are actually clumps of matcha that wouldn’t dissolve. Make sure that you learn from my mistake, don’t skip that step! I’m going to whip up a batch of these for Halloween since it kind of looks like slime. :)

Green Tea Glaze
1/2 cup of powdered sugar (sifted)
1 and 1/2 tablespoons of milk
1 teaspoon of matcha
Sugar Cookies
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar plus additional amount for topping (optional)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
Cream butter and the cup of sugar; add well-beaten eggs, then milk, vanilla, flour, salt, and baking powder. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Roll dough, cut into shapes, and sprinkle sugar on top, if desired. Bake in a quick oven (375°) for approximately 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Makes six- to seven-dozen cookies.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

PG Tips Pyramid Bags Green Tea

Photo: PG Tips
This tea came packaged in the traditional PG Tips pyramid tea bags. The bags had a thin, perforated appearance. The dry leaves were pale green in color. The particles were larger than you would usually find in a tea bag, more closely resembling CTC.  I steeped this tea in boiling water for one minute. I also cold brewed it as an iced tea. I basically just tossed about eight tea bags into a pitcher full of water and let it sit overnight.

As far as bagged green teas go this one is very nice. It was sweet and nutty without being overly vegetal or astringent. Even when accidentally left to steep for too long there was very little bitterness. I could see tossing one of these into a travel mug of hot water when I am leaving for work. PG Tips has surprised me yet again with the quality of their bagged tea. I would definitely recommend this tea.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Rishi Tea Chocolate Mate Chai

Photo: Rishi Tea
Rishi lists the ingredients of this tea as including organic Fair Trade Certified™ pu-erh tea, organic roasted dandelion root, organic cardamom, organic yerba maté, organic cocoa shells, organic cacao nibs, organic long pepper, organic coconut flakes and organic vanilla bean. The dry leaves were a mix of so many different colors and textures. They had an earthy and sweet aroma. I prepared this tea by bringing 1.5 cups of water and 1 cup of milk to a boil, adding the leaves and letting it simmer for five minutes.

This tea was so smooth, rich and creamy; I could have mistaken it for a latte. It wasn’t spicy in the way that you would expect from a chai tea. There just a little bit of lingering pepper after each sip. The coconut added a nice nutty element to the flavor profile that complimented the cocoa well. I’ve never tried yerba maté before but this blend has me curious now. I would definitely recommend this tea.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Puritea Dan Cong

Photo: The Puritea
According to The Puritea this tea is from the the famous Dan Cong tea bushes of the Phoenix Mountain in Guangdong, China. It has been naturally infused with osmanthus flowers. The dry leaves were dark with a thin and twisted shape. I steeped this tea in a porcelain gaiwan using 180 degree water and three consecutive 40 second infusions. The liquor was a deep gold color.

This tea was fruity, floral and sweet but not in the way that I would like it to be. The issue that I have with this tea is that I think most of it came from the osmanthus. Dan Cong is my favorite kind of tea because its flavor can be so complex and multidimensional. I don’t see the need to scent a tea that is strong enough to stand on its own. I had a perfume-like aftertaste for some time. That being said, if you like floral teas you might enjoy this selection. I would probably recommend this tea.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Boston Tea Company Earl Grey Citrus

According to the Boston Tea Company this tea contains Indian Assam black tea, citrus peel, cornflowers and natural bergamot flavor. The aroma of the dry leaves was very strong, almost reminding me of incense. The cornflowers and citrus peel added a nice bit of color. I steeped this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 212 degree water for four minutes. The liquor was dark brown in color and had the same strong aroma as the leaves.

This tea was both tangy and tart. There was a bit of maltiness from the Assam but that disappeared when it was prepared as an iced tea. I’m not a big fan of citrus teas but it wasn’t bad. I liked it a lot better as a cold brewed iced tea. My problem with Earl Grays is that I just can’t shake that oily mouth feel and this one was no exception. It wasn’t really for me but if you are a fan of earl grey or citrus then I would probably recommend this tea.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Maiko Tea Happiness Tea (Shiawasencha)


Photo: Maiko Tea
According to Maiko Tea this blend is a combination of matcha, kukicha, genmai and kelp. Can you say green? This was probably one of the most visually interesting teas I have ever seen. There were so many different shapes and textures, all covered in the bright green matcha powder. I steeped this tea in a kyusu using 175 degree water and one minute infusions.

The first infusion was yellowish green and almost translucent because of the matcha. I was expecting a lot of vegetal flavor because of the green tea overload but that was not the case.  It was nutty and sweet in a very mild way. The second was much clearer but still very bright green in color. The taste did not change much between infusions. If you are a fan of Japanese greens then this is right up your alley. I would definitely recommend this tea.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Teapod Rose Petal Green


Teapod is a UK based company that was launched in 2008. This tea consists of green tea from the Yunnan Province in China and rose petals. The dry leaves were long, thin and twisted in appearance. Rose petals are one of my favorite tea ingredients simply because they are so pretty to look at. I steeped this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker using 175 degree water for three minutes.

This tea was floral without tasting like perfume or potpourri. Rose always surprises me with how subtle it can be. The green tea was just barely there in the background, adding a touch of vegetal sweetness. It was a very mellow cup of tea but sometimes that is just what the doctor ordered. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Canton Tea Co. Bai Lin Gong Fu


This is a Chinese black tea that was grown in the Fujian Province. The dry leaves were a mottled brown color and had a fine, curly appearance. They had a very pleasant earthy smell to them. I made this tea in a porcelain gaiwan using 212 degree water and three consecutive 40 second infusions. The liquor was a deep red color that was almost translucent.

The first infusion of this tea was sweet and nutty tasting with hardly any bitterness. The second took on a pleasant maltiness that reminded me of a good quality Assam. The third was just as enjoyable and had not lost any of its strength. Very few black teas lend themselves well to the gong fu style of brewing but this one suits it perfectly. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Element Tea Mandarin Silk Oolong

Organic Mandarin Silk
Element Tea lists the ingredients of this blend as consisting of oolong tea, organic lemon myrtle, marigold petals and natural flavors. The dry leaves were dark green and twisted in appearance. I doubt the marigold added much to the taste but they provided a very pretty splash of color. I steeped this tea using my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 195 degree water for 4 minutes.

This tea was not offensive by any means but simply put, it tasted exactly like creamy lemongrass. The oolong was not discernible in the flavor profile. This blend really just wasn't for me. I am not a fan of lemon to begin with so I cannot really hold that against them. I have enjoyed several of Element Teas other offerings. If you enjoy citrus teas then you might like this one but I probably would not recommend this tea.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Chicago Tea Garden Silver Needle White Tea


This tea was sourced by David Lee Hoffman in China’s Fujian province in the spring of 2010. The dry leaves were largely unbroken and covered in the downy hair that usually denotes as silver needle. I made this tea in a porcelain gaiwan using 160 degree water and one minute infusions. The liquor was so pale that it was practically colorless.

This tea was everything a silver needle should be and then some. The first infusion was very sweet and delicate but it was the second really knocked my socks off. It was a fuller, rounder version of the first which really brought out all of the layers of flavors. It was at once floral, vegetal and nutty. It was good to be reminded of just how wonderful a good silver needle really can be. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Element Tea Phoenix Tropical Peach Oolong

Phoenix Tropical Peach Oolong
Element Tea’s website states that this tea is grown in the Phoenix Mountains of the Guangdong Province of China. The ingredients are listed simply as oolong tea and tropical flavoring. The dry leaves smelled exactly like peach candy. I steeped this tea using my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 195 degree water for 4 minutes. The liquor was a deep amber color and darker than most oolongs.

This tea was much more delicate than I expected it to be. The peach flavor was present but in a subtle and natural way. The oolong base wasn’t very noticeable but it did add a bit of creaminess. The only complaint I have is the ambiguity about the ingredients. I like to know exactly what I am drinking. This tea was very nicely done and I’ve been impressed by Element Tea’s offerings so far. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Monday, September 13, 2010

TeaGschwendner Rockin’ Red Apple

Rockin' Red AppleI picked up this special New York themed blend at TeaGshwendner’s Manhattan location in Rockefeller Center. It consists of black tea, natural flavoring, apple pieces and vanilla pieces. The dry leaves smelled amazing. They reminded me of really fresh old fashioned apple cider. I steeped this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 212 degree water for four minutes.

This tea was really wonderful, sweet and spicy in just the right proportions. There was just the perfect amount of tartness from the apple but it wasn’t overly sweet the way some fruit blends can be. The vanilla added a bit of creaminess that put a nice finish on each sip. I am always impressed with TeaGshwendner’s teas and this one was no exception. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Rishi Vanilla Mint Chai

Vanilla Mint Chai, Organic Fair Trade ChaiAccording to Rishi this tea consists of pu-erh tea, organic vanilla, organic peppermint, organic cinnamon and organic licorice root. The dry leaves were a mix of blacks, greens and browns. There was a faint minty aroma to them. I prepared this tea by bringing 1.5 cups of water and 1 cup of milk to boil, adding the leaves and then let it simmer for 5 minutes. I never sweeten my tea but it would be easy to add a bit of agave or your sweetener of choice.

This tea is not a traditional chai so I tried not to judge it as such. It was very rich and creamy tasting with vanilla being the dominating flavor. However, I do think it could have used a bit more kick to it. Perhaps some cardamom to balance the sweetness of the licorice? It was still a very enjoyable cup of tea. The nights have been chilly here in New Jersey and it was the perfect warm-me-up drink. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

TeaGschwendner Darjeeling No.9 Himilaya

Darjeeling No. 9 Himalaya First FlushAccording to TeaGshwendner this tea is a blend of first flush estate teas. It is marked as TGFOP (Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe). The dry leaves were varied shades of green, black and brown. They smelled very fresh and green. I steeped this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 212 degree water for two minutes. The liquor was a deep amber color and had the same great aroma as the dry leaves.

This tea was sweet, floral and woodsy with a dry finish to each sip. The muscatel taste is up front and center and I found it to be a bit bolder than a lot of Darjeelings that I have had. Cold brewing to make iced tea was just as delicious. Luckily for me, TeaGschwendner has recently opened a retail store in Manhattan so I can easily stock up on this. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Green Tea Muffins

I’ve been on a major cooking and baking kick lately. I was a little bored a few weekends ago and got in the mood to make some muffins. After some google searching I found this simple recipe on Food.com. They came out pretty good if I do say so myself. I think next time I’ll use a bit more matcha though since I really love that strong flavor. They made the whole house smell like green tea. The one down side is that now I am craving the delicious green tea muffins I used to get every morning from Amai Tea before they closed. Theirs were much more moist and they used to stick a red bean in the middle of each one.

Ingredients:

Directions:


Prep Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 50 mins
  1. Preheat oven at 350°F.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and green tea powder and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the butter until light.
  4. Add the sugar and eggs and beat some more until light and fluffy.
  5. Add the dry mixture and the milk.
  6. Stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until the dry ingredients are just incorporated (don't overmix). The batter will be somewhat lumpy.
  7. Divide the batter among the muffin tins (If you don't have any liners, grease the tins), about 2/3 full.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
  9. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
  10. Bon appetit!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Rishi Coconut Oolong

Coconut Oolong

According to Rishi Tea this tea consists of Bao Zhong oolong and natural coconut flavor. I often wish companies explained exactly what is meant by that but I suppose that would give their secrets away. Bao Zhong is a lightly oxidized Taiwanese tea. The dry leaves were long and twisted with a dark and dusty appearance. I steeped this tea using my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 195 degree water for 4 minutes. The liquor was a brassy gold color.

The base tea for this blend is wonderful. It is pleasantly fruity and floral while allowing the coconut to peak through. Typically we think of coconut as a sweet, candy-like flavor. That is usually artificially created though. This tea reminded me more of the natural, low key flavor of coconut oil. It may not be everyone’s thing but I love it. On the second infusion it was more easily discernable and a bit of toastiness also appeared at the end of each sip. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Canton Tea Co. Tie Guan Yin

Iron Buddha Oolong Tea Dry Leaf (Anxi Tie Guan Yin Wu Long)
According to the Canton Tea Co. this tea is a lightly oxidized oolong that hails from the Fujian Province of China and was harvested in Autumn 2009. The leaves were dark green and very tightly rolled. I made this tea in a porcelain gaiwan using 195 degree water and three consecutive 40 second infusions. The liquor was a light greenish gold color and had an aroma that was reminiscent of caramel.
The first infusion of this tea had a wonderful buttery vanilla quality. The second was sweeter and slightly more vegetal than the previous one. The third was the strongest of the three. The flavor profile was complex so it is difficult to describe but it reminded me very much of honeydew melon. The aftertaste really lingered in my palate after each sip. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Boston Tea Company Jasmine


According to the Boston Tea Company, this is a Chinese Chun Mee green tea that has been scented with jasmine blossoms. The leaves were bright green with varied shapes and sizes. There were a lots of whole blossoms mixed in throughout. I steeped this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker using 175 degree water for four minutes. The liquor was a deep and brassy gold color.

I was surprised to find that this tea was decidedly more fruity than floral tasting. It almost reminded me of pineapple but without the tartness. I’ve never found this kind of flavor profile in a jasmine tea and I would be very interested to find out exactly what it is that made the difference. The second steeping was just as delicious. If you aren’t a fan of the heavily perfumed aspect of jasmine, this blend is perfect for you. I would definitely recommend this tea.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

New Look

I’ve been bored with the layout and logo of this blog for a while and finally got enough free time this weekend to do something about it. I have zero artistic ability but I did the best I could with the logo. I think that I finally have all of the bugs worked out and I’d love to hear what my readers think about the new look. I’ve also purchased the domain name teaformeplease.com. You may notice my email address is now listed as nicole@teaformeplease.com. I’ve always hated the .blogspot.com url and I think it has a nicer ring to it this way too. I also finally got around to creating a Facebook Fan Page. I need to reach 25 fans in order to make a username that gives me a shorter and easier url. Won’t you help me out? In other news, on Thursday I’ll be featured in World of Tea’s tea drinker profile! I’m really excited about it.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Canton Tea Co Silver Yin Zehn

Accord to Canton Tea Co. this tea is grown in the Fujian Province of China. The leaves were completely covered in the downy hairs that silver needle is famous for. However, my sample had more than a few broken leaves. I chalk that up to shipping damage as that is not the norm for silver needle. I steeped this tea in a porcelain gaiwan using 170 degree water and 2 minute infusions. Post steeping the leaves were especially plump and green. The liquor was very pale.

This tea was everything that I love about good quality white teas, delicate but with a wide range of experiences in single session. The first infusion had the typical melon-like quality that I would expect. As it cooled this flavor became more pronounced. The second infusion was more floral and had a honey aftertaste. The third brought out some nutty notes. There was a sweetness that lingered long after each sip. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Element Tea Chocolate Mint

Chocolate Mint

I was extremely excited to try this tea because it combines my two most favorite non-tea things in the world. According to Element Tea, this blend consists of Sri Lankan black tea, peppermint and natural chocolate flavors. The leaves were dark and twisted with a few green peppermint leaves mixed in. Their aroma was incredible. It was like I had just opened a fresh package of Andes chocolate mints. I steeped this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 212 degree water for four minutes.

Chocolate is a tricky flavor to recreate in tea form. I find that it often comes across as a general bitterness. This is by far the best chocolate blend that I have ever had. The mint is predominant but the chocolate is there as a warm and toasty background. It was smooth and refreshing with just a bit of astringency. What could be better than drinking your after-dinner mint? The second infusion wasn’t as minty but it was just as delicious. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Canton Tea Co. Pouchong

Canton Tea Co. is a London-based company that specializes in high grade, whole leaf Chinese teas. This particular type of tea is a very lightly oxidized oolong that was grown in Taiwan. The dry leaves of this tea had that gnarled and twisted look that I love in my dan cong oolongs. They were dark green in color and had a pleasant toasty aroma. I made this tea in a porcelain gaiwan using 195 degree water and 40 second steepings. The liquor was a pale yellow.

The first infusion of this tea was surprisingly light and clean. It was floral but in a very subtle way. The second infusion was noticeably less green tasting. There was some definite nuttiness coming through. The third infusion was smokier but still sweet. This tea just kept going and going on subsequent infusions. I found it to be very forgiving on steep time. I became distracted during one of my last infusions and it didn’t cause it to become bitter at all. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Chicago Tea Garden Zealong Pure

I’m always excited to try teas from unusual or new growing regions. Chicago Tea Garden is the first company in the United States to sell Zealong, the only tea that is produced in New Zealand. It is grown naturally without the use of chemical fertilizers. The dry leaves resembled a typical hand rolled oolong and had a strong, woodsy aroma. I made this tea in a porcelain gaiwan using 195 degree water and 40 second infusions. The liquor was bright and brassy in color.

The first infusion was sweet and somewhat floral with a thick mouth feel. Each subsequent infusion brought out subtle changes in the flavor profile that really made this tea a great experience. The second infusion became fruitier and some smokiness appeared in the third that had not been there before. I thought the smoky notes were interesting since this particular oolong is not roasted. This tea is a great example of why oolongs are my favorite type of tea. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Teatulia Organic Green Tea

sample

As is the case with the rest of Teatulia’s offerings, this tea is organically grown in the Northern Bangladesh region of India. The dry leaves had a unique appearance that was very different from other green teas that I have had. I steeped this tea using my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 180 degree water for four minutes. The liquor was a light gold color.

The flavor of this tea was mostly vegetal but in a clean way, almost reminding me of cucumber. It was full bodied without being overpowering. I loved that it had just the right amount of astringency and it lacked the grassiness often associated with green tea. It had a pleasantly sweet and nutty finish. This would make a good every day green. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Boston Tea Company Moroccan Mint

This tea consists of a gunpowder green tea blended with spearmint leaves. The tea leaves are rolled into tiny balls. The aroma was very strong, like sniffing a freshly opened pack of a chewing gum. I steeped this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker using 180 degree water for four minutes. The liquor was a deep gold color. When cold brewing I used two quarts of water to 1/4 cup of leaf and steeped for five hours.

Even though I tend to lean towards unflavored teas, Moroccan Mint has always been one of my favorites. The taste of this tea was mint, mint and more mint; just the way I like it. The green tea provided just a bit of smokiness in the background but the spearmint really takes the center stage here. It was even more refreshing when I used cold brewed some iced tea. The pure and clean taste of this tea has got me dreaming up ways to use it in the kitchen. Mint infused chocolate pudding anyone? I would definitely recommend this tea.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Green Tea Lovers Silverback White Tea

I was really interested to try this tea because I had never had anything but black and herbal teas from Africa and I have never had any tea from Kenya. According to Green Tea Lovers it is grown in an estate that is pesticide and herbicide free. This is always important to me when choosing what teas I drink. The leaves were a grayish green in color and covered in downy hairs. I steeped this tea in a porcelain gaiwan using 180 degree water for three minutes. The liquor was a light gold color and had a sweet aroma.

The taste of this tea was just sort of plainly vegetal, reminiscent of brussel sprouts. On their website this tea is described tea as having oolong-like flavor notes but I found it to be rather one dimensional. Normally silver needles have all of these tiny layers of flavors that I love discovering but there was none of that here. The flavor was definitely different from Chinese and Indian silver needles so it was fun to experiment with but I probably wouldn’t recommend this tea.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Chicago Tea Garden Lu Mu Dan Flowers

This tea features hand sewn rosettes of spring-picked Huangshan Maofang tea leaves. It almost had the appearance of a tiny bouquet of seaweed. I wasn’t sure where to go with the brewing parameters for this tea so I played it a bit safe. I steeped this tea in a glass tea pot with 180 degree water for three minutes. The liquor was a bright yellow color and had a sweet vegetal aroma. After steeping the tea leaves plumped up and turned to a brighter, more uniform shade of green.

I was pleasantly surprised at how good this tea tasted. It was sweet and vegetal with just a bit of smokiness at the end of each sip. It wasn’t as showy as a regular flowering tea but it more than makes up for that in the taste department. I left the rosette in the water after pouring my first cup and it didn’t make any of my subsequent cups bitter at all. I’d love to experiment to see if this tea would be able to tolerate higher water temperatures. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Naivetea Osmanthus Oolong


Naivetea has consistently impressed me with the quality of their flavored oolongs. This selection consists of Alishan oolong infused with natural osmanthus. Osmanthus is a flowering shrub that is native to Asia. The dry leaves were a deep green in color with a few bits of yellow flowers mixed in. I steeped this tea using my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 195 degree water for 3 minutes. The liquor was a deep golden color.

The only word that I can think of to describe this tea is remarkable. This tea is smooth, sweet and buttery. The osmanthus lent a delicate floral and slightly citrus flavor without being too much like perfume. There was no bitterness and my second infusion was just as delicious. For a long time I thought that I didn’t like osmanthus very much but this tea proved to me that the blends I’ve tried before just weren’t up to par. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Boston Tea Company Pineapple Paradise

According to the Boston Tea Company, this blend consists of sencha green tea, pineapple, blue malva flowers, lemon peel, rose petals and natural pineapple flavor. The dry leaves were a lot to take in because of  all of the varied colors and textures. I found myself digging through the tin just to catch them all. The aroma wasn’t as fruit-loopy as I was expecting but I could definitely smell the pineapple and lemon. I steeped this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 175 degree water for 2 minutes.

This tea was fruity (of course) and had a slightly floral aftertaste. The star of this show was definitely the pineapple but it was much more mellow than I thought it would be. I was actually surprised at how much I liked this selection because I am not one for fruit teas or blends with too many ingredients. Somehow all of the ingredients managed to come together into a really great tasting end product. It was just as delicious iced as it is hot.  I would definitely recommend this tea.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Teatulia Lemongrass Herbal Infusion

sampleI’ve had this tea for a while but I was hesitant to try it because I’ve never been a fan of lemongrass. All of the teas I have tried were either very weak or tasted like a combination of medicine and Pine-Sol. The dry leaves consisted of chopped up blades of grass in varying shades of yellow, green and brown. I brewed this tea with an infuser basket using 212 degree water for 3 minutes.

I have to say that this is probably the only lemongrass teasan that I have ever actually liked. It was surprisingly refreshing and the lemony fresh taste that I was expecting was rather sweet and mellow. I’m not so sure about drinking it but I think it would interesting to use it in some sort of recipe. I wouldn’t go out of my way to get some but I would probably recommend this tea.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Teatulia Breakfast Tea


Teatulia’s teas are all grown in their garden in Northern Bangladesh. I love that their teas are packaged in eco-friendly containers. I steeped this tea using an infuser basket with 212-degree water for two minutes. The leaves were a rich brown color and the shape of them was elegantly long and twisted. They were actually quite large for a breakfast-style black tea. Typically the leaves are prepared in the cut-tear-curl style so this was a refreshing change.
I’m a big fan of this type of tea (especially on Monday mornings) but sometimes they can be a bit too astringent. This tea was brisk enough for a wake-up call but did not have the bite that one would expect. It was smooth and slightly malty with a sweet finish to each sip. I tried this one iced and it was just as delicious. The package of this tea says “Let the Sun Shine” and I think that sums it up pretty nicely. I would definitely recommend this tea.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Teatulia Earl of Bengal

sample

Once again, I cannot say enough about Teatulia and their ethical growing practices. I love knowing that my tea is free of pesticides and helps the people who grew the tea. Their cooperative has established education, health and cattle-lending programs for the people working in the garden and surrounding areas. The dry leaves had a woodsy aroma, almost reminiscent of cedar. I steeped this tea in an infuser basket with 212 degree water for two minutes.

This tea had a very thick mouth feel. So much so that I felt as though my throat was coated with oil. Bergamot can be tricky and I feel that a lot companies overdo it. There is a fine line between a yummy hint of citrus zing and drinking orange scented Lysol. That is the case with this blend as well. I’m a big fan of Teatulia’s Black Tea but it was completely obscured by the flavoring. I would probably not recommend this tea unless you REALLY love bergamot.